Employees at Nike HQ, based in Oregon US, have been given one week off in order to prioritise mental health and wellbeing. 

The sportswear brand Nike have given staff at its headquarters in the US a one week break to de-stress and prioritise their mental wellbeing.

Writing on LinkedIn, Senior Manager Matt Marrazzo, stated that senior leaders at the company were sending a clear message to Nike employees:

Take the time to unwind, destress and spend time with your loved ones. Do not work.

Notably, Mr. Marrazzo expressed that the effects of the pandemic have taken a toll on the workforce and said “taking time for rest and recovery is key to performing well and staying sane”.

The Senior Manager also hoped that this move would have a wider, positive impact on Nike’s culture of work moving forward.

Despite this, it is unclear whether this move will be adopted by other Nike stores across the globe.

Nike has become the latest company to give staff time off to support their wellbeing – with Bumble initially giving employees worldwide a week off to spend time offline and de-stress. The dating app then followed this up by giving all staff unlimited paid leave, providing it is approved by their manager.

Other companies such as KPMG and LinkedIn have since followed suit, citing the importance of protecting staff wellbeing.

Kelly Metcalf, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing at Fujitsu, praised this initiative by Nike:

The natural consequence of the pandemic has increased the focus on mental health and wellbeing for employees. Nike’s ‘Power Down’ for employees is a brilliant example of how organisations can develop methods and techniques to better enable people to manage their balance of circumstances and their own wellbeing.

This is a positive trend that has helped individuals and managers spot behavioural patterns that might indicate a need for adjustment or support. When done well by organisations that understand there is complexity to be navigated, organisations can improve business resilience across the board.

However, Suzanne Staunton, Employment Partner at JMW Solicitors, argued that many UK businesses were unlikely to replicate this:

Mental health and wellbeing is at the top of most employers’ agenda. This is especially the case in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, where the populations’ mental health has been tested. It is worth remembering that in the US, employees have relatively short holiday entitlements, whereas, the UK’s holiday entitlement is relatively generous.

With that in mind, it is unlikely that (many) UK employers will provide their staff with a week’s mental health break. However, anecdotally, over the past 12 months, we saw a number of employers have given staff a day or two additional mental health days or an extra day holiday.

Those employers who implemented such schemes reported an increase in morale and productivity. Notwithstanding this specific mental health leave, all employees are entitled to take sick leave where they are feeling unwell due to mental health.