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Spotify gives workers wellness week off

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Thousands of employees across the world woke up this week to, well, hit snooze a few more times—that is, if you’re one of the over 6,000 Spotify workers. 

The digital streaming company announced their “wellness week,” where they shut down all offices, giving their employees a paid week off of work. 

“We strive to offer flexibility and we believe it’s not just important, but essential, to create a safe environment for our employees,” writes Spotify CHRO Katarina Berg in a blog. “…all Spotify offices will be closed 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.” 

Johanna Bolin Tingvall, the company’s global head of L&D, talent growth and community experience, shared in a post Monday that she woke up at 6 a.m. only to remember that her company had shut down. 

“Can you believe a company practically shutting down for a whole week to let their employees take care of their mental health, as they know not to see it as a cost but an investment in their people. I am so grateful!” her post reads.

Another employee wrote on Linked In: “If you need me next week, I’m unavailable because, at Spotify, we all have the week off to take care of ourselves!” 

Just last month, the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy gave official guidance on how “toxic workplaces,”—often perpetuated by a culture of stress and burnout—affect employee’s physical and mental health. Murthy notes in his report that chronic stress can disrupt sleep which can lead to a host of physical and mental health problems. Addressing these factors at the forefront is imperative for workplaces, along with making employees feel like they matter. 

“We have the power to make workplaces engines for mental health and well-being,” the report reads. “Doing so will require organizations to rethink how they protect workers from harm, foster a sense of connection among workers, show them that they matter, make space for their lives outside work, and support their long-term professional growth.”

The challenges amid the pandemic drew attention to what employees feel has been too frequently left off the list: a prioritization of mental health and wellness. A recent survey found over half of Gen Z says mental health benefits are a top priority only second to a 401K, and studies show that while employees desire mental health benefits in the workplace, they seldom feel they get them. Even employees who have unlimited PTO don’t feel incentivized or like they “deserve” to take time off. 

Spotify instituted their wellness week in 2021, largely due to the global challenges that affected employees’ home and work lives. Some used the week to travel while others simply slowed down. 

“It didn’t matter what our employees did with their week—the only stipulation we had in place was that everyone disconnected. We all took time away from the everyday flurry of emails, messages and video meetings,” Berg writes in the post. “Naturally, we heard feedback that not checking email for a week straight felt strange at first, but that the feeling of quiet calmness that soon won over was quite unlike anything else.”

Experts nod to the power of breaks to improve focus, promote productivity long-term, and increase retention, and Spotify is telling their employees to stay off the clock this week. 

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