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A company is only as good as its employees. It’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. But let’s take this a step further. A company is only as good as its employees – and its employees can only perform at their best when they’re mentally healthy and feeling valued.

Companies that acknowledge this will see significant benefits. Recently, iconic apparel and shoe company Nike took the extraordinary step of closing its corporate offices for a full week in order to gift some free time off to its employees.

If you’re running a business, it’s worth considering whether it’s possible to offer something similar as a reward to your staff for a job well done. It doesn’t have to be a free week for everyone at the same time ala Nike. One method some companies have adopted is to grant every employee a free week of extra leave each year at a time of their choosing, but with the catch that they have to use their four weeks of annual leave first. 

This kind of arrangement is a win/win situation – the employee gets an extra week off, but the business is effectively incentivising staff not to build up mountains of unused leave (resulting in a costly accrued pay out if and when the employee departs). 

Here are some of the benefits of rewarding your employees with the gift of some extra free time:

  1. It helps to keep staff fresh and motivated. This is the obvious one, but it’s important. Staff members that burnout will leave – it’s as simple as that. Staff that are acknowledged and rewarded will perform better, make less mistakes, contribute positively to work culture and are just generally more pleasant to be around.
  • You’ll actually get more productivity in return than you lose. Let’s say you decide that on Fridays, everyone can finish their day at 3pm if they’re up to date with their work. You might feel like you’ve just “given up” two hours of productivity, but what you’ll actually find is that your staff more than make up that two hours by working even harder for you the rest of the week. Plus they’ll love you for implementing the initiative. Another win/win.
  • It sends a message to your staff that you care about them. Signals like this are really important – and they’re what makes businesses sticky. This is an even more powerful factor for keeping people at a company that the level at which their remunerated. It’s really quite simple – people value companies that genuinely value them in return.
  • It’s a great PR move. The Nike story made headlines. As such, it enhanced the public’s perception of the company, not just the staffs. This even has a flow-on effect for how people perceive the product