Nike is giving staff a whole week off work for a very important reason

Nike announced that its head office employees have been given a week off from work

Nike Headquarters in Oregon. A white sign outside the building reads, "Do the right thing".
(Image credit: Getty Image)

The word ‘burnout’ has been uttered a lot in the past year.  It comes as no surprise when many have been working longer hours and socialising less due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Now global sportswear brand Nike has taken action to counteract the pandemic’s negative impact on the mental health of workers at its Oregon headquarters.  The company -  famed for making some of the all-time best running shoes for men and best running shoes for women -  has shut the doors to the corporate office for a week, with staff. Staff have been told to take the week off and rest.  

The brand’s head of insights, Matt Marrazzo, announced the break on LinkedIn last week. He said Nike employees were told:  “Take the time to unwind, destress and spend time with your loved ones. Do not work.” 

Marrazzo added: “This past year has been rough - we're all human! and living through a traumatic event! - but I'm hopeful that the empathy and grace we continue to show our teammates will have a positive impact on the culture of work moving forward.” 

He also highlighted how Nike wants to show that the mental health of its employees is important towards the work of the company, writing: “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.”

The news was well received, with Marrazzo’s post having gained over 22,000 positive reactions at the time of writing. One LinkedIn user, a company CEO, commented: “So happy they [Nike] are prioritizing mental health. A mentally happy company is often overlooked but incomparable.”

Another user - a people strategist - posted: “Imagine if all companies valued mental health like this? Kudos to Nike for setting the example that prioritizing employees’ mental health & well being is an integral part of a positive & healthy culture.”

The move was also praised by Anna Freeman, CEO and founder of ZavFit, a health app for money stress.

Freeman told Fit&Well: "As a global icon, Nike is sending a clear message that 'being fit' isn't just about physical health, our mental health is just as important. 

A woman sat at a laptop suffering from burnout at work

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"We know that mental health is one of the top concerns of boardrooms, hopefully other companies will follow in Nike's footsteps and 'Do The Right Thing' for their people. Nike has understood that this is essential to their bottom line. By encouraging staff to take a break and avoid burnout, they are protecting their most important asset, helping employees to stay feeling healthy and productive."

Nike’s move follows in the footsteps of companies such as dating app Bumble and social media tool Hootsuite, which have also instructed staff to take time out in order to recuperate from pandemic-related burnout.

It comes in the wake of a recent study carried out by Visier, which looked into the mental health epidemic that has escalated alongside the spread of the physical virus.

It found that 89% of employees have experienced burnout over the past year, and that 70% would leave the organization they currently work at for another offering resources to lessen the feeling of burnout.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms of burnout include feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy. If any of those sound familiar, the following tips from Freeman on how to avoid burnout might prove useful.

6 tips for avoiding burnout at work

  1. Rest – "To do this, we have to do something, anything, that occupies our whole mind while we are doing it. This could be phoning a friend you haven’t spoken to in a long while. It could be playing a sport or musical instrument or cooking. Find something that requires your whole attention and focus on doing that for a part of your day. This will give your mind a chance to rest."
  2. Reflect – "When thinking about what to do with your time off, really try and home in on those things that you know will light you up. This can really help you to understand how best to spend your time and where best to direct your spending in order to boost your wellbeing. Rather than default to Netflix and chill, takeouts or online shopping, use the time to reflect on those activities that have made you really happy in the past."
  3. Try Meditation - "Meditation techniques can help to reduce stress. Focusing on the rise and fall of your breath can train your attention to rest on the present moment instead of panicking about past mistakes or future uncertainties. It’s important to enjoy experiences while you actually live them, because distracted thoughts frequently spiral into uncontrollable obsessions with “what if?”. By taking control of your attention, you can choose what is and isn’t worth your mental energy." See Fit&Well's guide on how to meditate for more tips and advice.
  4. Connect with nature - "Spending time in nature is great for mental health and cognitive performance. This becomes more difficult to achieve when living in a city or when in self-isolation at home, but there are still practical things we can do to get the benefits of nature. There are many free playlists that provide sounds of nature which can be an excellent calming background when studying. You can also bring nature inside by ordering indoor plants for your workspace."
  5. Learn - "We should never lose sight of the important advantages of stress and anxiety. We experience negative emotions for a reason, and they often keep us away from major dangers. But when they become excessive or unproductive, we can learn to stay on top of them. Carefully reflecting on painful feelings and focusing on their possible advantages can prove that they’re not so terrifying after all."
  6. Reset – "As we come into a new normal we will start to form new habits again. With the number one cause of mental health issues being money stress. Our top tip is to reset the way you think about your money. Are you using your spending with the intent to boost your wellbeing or are you spending simply to enjoy the act of spending. With your time to rest, focus on those areas of spending that could be the most meaningful to your wellbeing."
Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.