10 September, 2021
The physical and mental effects of the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be understated, and recognition by employers of this impact is incredibly important. We can all agree the last 18 months have left us (and continue to leave us) feeling a little jaded (to put it politely). It seems only sensible that that everyone should be given a little bit of extra slack.
Exactly how companies choose to address this employee ‘burnout’ has varied. Nike, like a handful of other companies, took the decision to close their corporate headquarters for a week in August, giving office workers a dedicated week to rest and re-coup. However, the announcement received a mixed response, with some commending the effort, and others criticising it – particularly the exclusion of vital retail and warehouse workers, who are likely to be put under considerable further stress as the holiday season fast approaches. In a similar vein, Citigroup, along with many others, launched ‘Zoom Free Fridays’, to alleviate video call fatigue. Again, a varied responses, with many questioning the efficacy, pointing out that in reality it might simply push workload to the other four days of the working week.
The ‘correct’ employer response is not always simple and will obviously vary according to business sector and operations. However, responses should universally be sustained and inclusive. Improving employee health and wellbeing following the pandemic cannot be solved by a ‘quick win’. An approach that reflects the reality of working conditions and feels human and responsive is the answer.
By Budd Nicholson