Hootsuite Inc. is supporting employee mental health by giving workers more time off this summer.

The social media marketing and management company held its inaugural wellness week from July 5 to 12, allowing employees to recharge and make time for personal goals and activities. Claire Adams, director of learning and development at Hootsuite, says the idea came about in a discussion between Tara Ataya, chief people and diversity officer, and Tom Keiser, chief executive officer, regarding the impact on mental health from the coronavirus pandemic and the deaths of Black civilians during police encounters in the U.S.

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“They were discussing what more could be done to support our team around the world, during and after what’s clearly been a difficult time in our society. Different times require different measures and previous employee surveys told us that mental health is top of mind, so it was felt we really needed to lean in and find a creative way to support mental health.”

Employees made use of the extra time off in a variety of ways, from packing up apartments to exploring their neighbourhoods, says Adams, noting she spent her own week off enjoying a family staycation. “My daughter is graduating high school and heading to university, so any extra time with the family is a real gift. . . . The common theme I saw was that our employees were grateful for the gift of time. [Employees are] coming back energized. There really was something unique in logging off together and not feeling that pressure of having to catch up when you return. I’ve never experienced that in my life before.”

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Other technology companies, such as Bumble Inc. and Twitter Inc., have also given employees bonus time off in a bid to support mental health amid the pandemic. Additionally, Hootsuite is supporting mental health by giving employees Friday afternoons off during the summer, as well as an enhanced benefits offering, says Adams.

The new benefits include 100 per cent coverage on mental-health treatments in North America and culturally-appropriate trauma counselling services.

And based on positive employee feedback, Adams says it’s likely that the wellness week program will be revisited in the future. “It’s going to be something we continue to look at. We’ll keep asking ourselves, ‘How can we innovate?’”