Why this tech giant is giving employees an extra day off

Google is giving employees an extra day off for the Labor Day holiday weekend, as employers nationwide struggle with employee burnout and soaring rates of depression. Workers get today off, as well as Monday for the traditional Labor Day holiday.

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The day is meant to improve employees’ collective wellbeing and is a one-time paid day off for full-time employees and interns, CNBC reports, citing internal employee documents.

“This extra holiday is specific to 2020 to support Googlers’ wellbeing in light of Covid-19,” the company said. “Please take the time to do whatever you need for yourselves.”

The company’s decision follows reports of soaring stress, depression and burnout as the pandemic enters its seventh month.

Compounding those issues, employees aren’t taking time off work. Two out of five employees have cut short or canceled time off work since March, and a quarter believe it’s hard to justify taking time off from work because they’re already working from home, according to data from software firm Zapier. Worse yet, 13% say they won’t take time off work until the pandemic is over.

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The uncertain environment has created a sense of urgency for employers to add or expand resources, as experts point out just how widespread mental health issues are and as employers begin to see the effects stress and anxiety have on their workforce. Adding extra paid holidays, as Google did, is one smart strategy to help, experts say.

Related: Is COVID-19 a turning point for workplace mental health?

Cisco similarly gave employees a collective mental health day in May in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It might feel like there are so many reasons not to take a day off,” Cisco EVP and Chief People Officer Fran Katsoudas wrote in an email announcing the mental health day in the spring. “There are few places to go, people need us, and we enjoy our work. Our weeks and weekends are blurring together. Yet there is one reason to unplug: ourselves.”

Related: What to do when workers won’t take their vacation

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.