Hootsuite Inc. is giving employees an additional paid week off this summer to support improved mental health and work-life balance.
The company will shut down between Aug. 29 and Sept. 2 for its second annual wellness week, says Paul Dhillon, director of total rewards at Hootsuite, adding the technology company received plenty of positive and informative employee feedback following the introduction of the program in 2021.
“[We asked employees], ‘Do you feel rested and recharged during wellness week?’ The response was around 98 per cent. What we learned is this week is different from vacation, because with vacation, are you truly disconnected? Many people still check their email [on vacation], but there’s a different feeling and there’s power in numbers. When the entire organization shuts down for a week, it really let’s individuals disconnect.”
Based on employee responses, the week was pushed from early July to late August. “When asked if employees wanted the wellness week to return, the response was an overwhelming ‘Yes,’” he says. “We thought, ‘If we did it again, what would be different about it and is there anything that could be done in terms of scheduling that makes sense for our team and the business itself?’ [The timing] is great for North American employees because it leads into the Labour Day weekend. Many are already booking vacation for the week before or after.”
The wellness week is just one part of the Hootsuite’s mental-health strategy, says Dhillon, noting the company is introducing additional wellness resources, such as newsletters and employee events. In addition, the company’s Vancouver office space was renovated with employee wellness in mind, including rooms for nursing mothers or prayer and desks where employees can work from an exercise bike or treadmill.
“We want to have regular touch points with employees to make sure mental-health conversations aren’t a monthly or annual event.”
Dhillon says wellness offerings are also helping Hootsuite stand out in a competitive labour market. “We don’t feel offering a competitive salary is the way to differentiate ourselves from competitors. We’re looking at it from an employee experience perspective. . . . In the technology space, there’s been a lot of job cuts and for an organization to commit to one less week of productivity really shows we care for our employees.”