Nike gives head office staff a week off for mental health break

Nike gives head office staff a week off for mental health break

Sportswear and sneaker brand joins dating app Bumble in offering extra time off in Covid pandemic

A woman wearing a facemask walks past a Nike store in Beijing

Last modified on Tue 31 Aug 2021 03.46 EDT

Nike has given its head office employees in the US a week off to “destress” and recover from the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The sportswear and trainers brand said workers at its headquarters in Oregon would be “powering down” until Friday, with senior leaders encouraging staff to ignore all work responsibilities to aid their mental health.

“Take the time to unwind, destress and spend time with your loved ones. Do not work,” the Nike senior manager of global marketing science, Matt Marrazzo, said in an open message to staff posted on LinkedIn.

“In a year (or two) unlike any other, taking time for rest and recovery is key to performing well and staying sane.”

He acknowledged that “this past year has been rough”, adding that staff should recognise that “we’re all human” and living through a traumatic event.

It puts Nike among a growing number of businesses offering extra time off, or concessions around working responsibilities, to combat the burnout caused by home working and constant video calls that have blurred the line between personal and professional lives.

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Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder of the dating app Bumble, gave her 700 employees an extra week of paid leave to destress and switch off in June. It came shortly after the global investment bank Citigroup banned work video calls on Fridays to help employees break free from the “relentlessness of the pandemic workday” in March. The bank also designated 28 May as a company-wide holiday, which it called “Citi reset day”, and encouraged staff to book more time off.

Marrazzo said the perks and support for staff at Nike were “good business but it’s also the right thing to do”.

“It’s not just a “week off” for the team … it’s an acknowledgment that we can prioritise mental health and still get work done,” he added.

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