It appears that Nike recently gave some employees an amazing perk: A full week off to spend time with friends and loved ones, and to prioritize their mental health.
The news was shared quietly in a LinkedIn post by a senior manager of global marketing at Nike, Matt Marrazzo, who wrote that Nike HQ would be taking the week off.
"Our senior leaders are all sending a clear message," wrote Marrazzo. "Take the time to unwind, de-stress and spend time with your loved ones. Do not work."
Marrazzo's post has since garnered over 20,000 likes and over 280 comments on LinkedIn.
Nike's move to prioritize employee well-being is a major lesson in emotional intelligence. Let's break down what makes it so smart, and what every company can learn from it.
The right way to do paid time off.
For several years now, companies have tried to lure top talent by dangling promises of unlimited time off.
Unlimited time off sounds great at first, and it can be a true perk for some. It provides employees with freedom and flexibility, and rewards results rather than hours.
The problem with unlimited time off, though, is it can easily turn into no time off.
If team members, and especially team leads, work during their time away, they're setting expectations--whether intentional or not. And everyone feels pressured to do the same.
But when a company gives everyone time off at the same time, they send a different type of message: "Do not work," as Marrazzo put it.
Not to mention, it's actually good business. Research consistently demonstrates a correlation between taking vacation time to lower stress and improved productivity. When one employee takes time off to refresh, they often come back energized--with fresh ideas and ready to tackle big problems.
Now, imagine a whole company of employees with that perspective--and what they could accomplish collectively.
The recent pandemic has only shone a spotlight on those benefits.
"In a year (or two) unlike any other, taking time for rest and recovery is key to performing well and staying sane," writes Marrazzo. "It's not just a 'week off' for the team... it's an acknowledgment that we can prioritize mental health and still get work done."
It was unclear if Nike would be extending this gift to all its workers in due time, including those hardworking employees on the retail front lines. (I reached out to Nike for comment, but received a message that media relations was currently unavailable. Guess they really are taking some time off.)
But hopefully this initial week off is a sign of more good things to come.
So if you want employees to care deeply about your company, take a page out of Nike's playbook.
And acknowledge there are some things your company should care about even more.