Taking a Wellness Week Can Actually Benefit the Workplace—Here’s Why

Meet the corporate initiative helping employees battle burnout and stress in the workplace.

A company-wide, paid week off of work sounds like an ideal vacation. It’s also unlikely for most workers.

Despite the prevalence of remote work and innovative changes to how we work—including a four-day work week or opportunities to travel while working remotely as a digital nomad—the majority of employees have to be online, hybrid, or in-person five days a week.

Unless you work at a company like Spotify.

For the second year in a row, Spotify implemented an annual “wellness week,” aka a company-wide paid week off of work for all employees. Here’s what it is, and why it’s important.

What is a wellness week?

In November of 2021, Spotify introduced a wellness week to encourage self-care amongst employees. Spotify offices shut down “so that each and every one of our employees had the opportunity to put some extra focus on their own wellness,” Spotify’s Chief Human Resources Officer Katarina Berg stated in a blog post.

The results from the week off of disconnecting? Employees used the opportunity to connect with loved ones, travel and unwind however they wanted. The week was such a success that the company decided to introduce the initiative again in early November of 2022:

Spotify’s Wellness Week. Along with the rest of the band across 🌎, we are taking a break to focus on ourselves our wellbeing. At the core of our mental health initiatives is the belief that it’s important to make time for both self professional care https://t.co/beXQFSnKrI

— Katarina Berg (@daigosweden) October 31, 2022

What is the purpose of a wellness week?

The purpose of wellness weeks is to combat burnout and promote self-care.

A study done by the World Health Organization found that overworking can cause health risks that contributed to an estimated 745,000 deaths in 2021.

Not only that, but in October of 2022, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy wrote that “toxic workplaces” can promote overworking and burnout. Both of which “are harmful to workers—to their mental health, and it turns out, to their physical health as well.”

Initiatives like wellness weeks, designed to combat overworking, can help to improve overall employee health.

For Spotify, Berg writes that the purpose of their wellness week is “so that all of our employees everywhere will be able to recharge, focus on themselves and do something that brings them joy. With this extra week of paid time off, it’s our hope that our employees around the world can take the time they need for themselves, and return to work revitalized, refreshed and energized.”

Is Spotify the only company to offer a wellness week?

Spotify isn’t the only company with workplace initiatives to promote prioritizing mental health. In fact, lots of companies have adopted wellness weeks or similar versions of the concept.

Companies like Bumble, LinkedIn and Hootsuite were among those who adopted a full-paid week off in 2021. Additionally, Fidelity Investments gave their employees five paid “relief days.”

We recently announced that all Bumble employees will have a paid, fully offline one-week vacation in June, so you could say we *feel this.* #APaidWeekOff https://t.co/MLitlvZDvz

— Bumble (@bumble) April 30, 2021

Are wellness weeks effective?

The question remains, does a week off help to improve stress management and health at work?

According to the American Psychological Association, “taking time off helps the majority of U.S. workers recover from stress and experience positive effects that improve their well-being and job performance.” Sounds like a win-win to us.

Plus, since many workers are reluctant to take personal daysa Glassdoor study found only 23% of employees take all of their allotted time off—wellness weeks may be the way to go.

Of course, “taking time out is not a magic potion that fixes underlying mental health issues,” Berg acknowledges. Nevertheless, she writes that a wellness week offers encouragement to “lead with compassion, empathy and take the opportunity to shape the future of work.”

Sources

  • HRBlog.Spotify.com: “Spotify Wellness Week Returns in 2022“
  • American Psychological Association: “Vacation Time Recharges U.S. Workers, but Positive Effects Vanish Within Days, New Survey Finds“
  • Fortune: “Spotify gives workers a paid week off to recharge“
  • Forbes: “Companies Are Giving Workers A Free Week Off to Improve Morale, Mental Health and Burnout“
  • NPR: “Overwork Killed More Than 745,000 People In A Year, WHO Study Finds“
  • CNBC: “US Workers could forfeit a record number of vacation days this year“