A week off to de-stress: Should other companies follow Bumble's example?

·Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
·4 min read
A woman looking stressed at her laptop
It is essential to ensure workers are taking adequate breaks throughout the day and are starting and finishing at a reasonable hour. Photo: Getty

Employees at the dating app Bumble have been given a paid week off work to recover from “collective burnout” triggered by the pandemic.

Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of the dating app, sent a memo to all 700 of Bumble’s employees, telling them to switch off for a full week, for which they will be paid.

In a statement, Bumble said the “global team has had a very challenging time during the pandemic. As vaccination rates have increased and restrictions have begun to ease, we wanted to give our teams around the world an opportunity to shut off and focus on themselves for a week.”

In a tweet, which has now been deleted, Bumble’s head of editorial content Clare O’Connor said Herd had “correctly intuited our collective burnout”. Bumble announced the move back in April when a spokesperson said: “We recently announced that all Bumble employees will have a paid, fully offline one-week vacation in June.”

During the pandemic, there has been a rise in stress levels in relation to work. In March, a survey of 1,500 US workers of different age groups by Indeed found rates of employee burnout have soared over the last year. More than half (52%) of respondents are feeling burned out, and more than two-thirds (67%) believe the feeling has worsened over the course of the pandemic.

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It’s unsurprising, considering the longer hours many workers have been putting in. Last year, an analysis of the emails and meetings of 3.1 million people by Harvard Business School found that the average workday increased by 48.5 minutes during the early weeks of the pandemic.

So should all businesses follow Bumble’s lead and give people extra paid time off?

“Many employees will strive to go the extra mile, work an extra hour, and in doing so take on too many tasks. The only way to complete all of those tasks is to extend the working day, and it doesn’t take long for this to become an unhelpful routine habit,” says business psychologist Stuart Duff, partner at Pearn Kandola.

“As work hours extend without a sense of choice or control, employees are likely to feel higher levels of stress rather than healthy pressure,” he adds. “With this, they may become less engaged with their work, their sense of wellbeing will fall and ultimately they may begin to resent work.”

Read more: Should we work fewer hours over the summer?

Offering employees a week off to step away from their emails and responsibilities is a great way to help them recharge. However, not all businesses can afford to have all employees off at the same time, so it may be better to stagger people’s holidays. It’s also important to remember that a week-long holiday is a temporary solution and doesn’t necessarily counter an "always on" culture.

Alongside additional time off, it is essential to ensure workers are taking adequate breaks throughout the day and are starting and finishing at a reasonable hour. If people are working remotely, Duff recommends setting guidelines on the best practices for working from home, to ensure people are working in healthy, sustainable ways. Employers also need to create an open environment for people to share their concerns and worries. For example, if they’re struggling with their workload.

There are ways you can help yourself to lead a better work-life balance too. “As an employee, the main way to address the issue is to focus on what exactly your priorities are, as opposed to what others are doing,” says Duff.

“It's vital to be able to focus on your own role and responsibilities. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance starts with managing yourself and making sure you are maintaining the best mindset possible to tackle your own to-do list,” he adds.

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Your wellbeing and personal resilience should be a priority, as these will directly affect your energy levels, so it's important to switch off from work and allow yourself to recharge.

“For example, one way to achieve this is to establish a clear cut off – close the door to your home office, shut your laptop and put it away at the end of the day,” Duff advises.

“If it's not that easy, you should be able to speak to your line manager about any issues you're having, which will help you and them to manage expectations,” he adds. “The majority of managers will agree that you shouldn't be working long into the evening, and even if they send emails at night, they will not necessarily expect a response.”

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