We suppose, if you want to earn lots of praise and heart-pats, you can’t go wrong doing what Nike just did. They announced they are closing their corporate offices for an entire week, and telling employees not to work because Nike wants to “support their mental health.”
This is easily one of the most-loved news items on LinkedIn and elsewhere on the vaunted interwebs. What a great employer! How sensitive to people’s needs! We should all get to work for a company like that!
Should you? Are you sure?
We’re all about supporting people’s mental health here at North Star Marketing Content, but a few things about this Nike Mental Health Week business aren’t sitting quite right with us.
Start with the basic premise of the whole thing, which is that merely going to work every day is detrimental to your mental health. Since when is that the case? We don’t know what it’s like to work at Nike. Maybe it’s a nonstop grind of thankless work made worse by unreasonable bosses and surly coworkers. If that’s the case, then sure, we suppose you’d need a week off not to lose your mind.
But in a workplace that functions as it should, going to work is a good part of a person’s life. The chance to earn a living, be productive and make an impact is rewarding and satisfying. Run your company the right way and this is how people will feel about coming to work.
Now sure, everyone needs time off once in a while. Do Nike employees not get paid vacations? We offer them here. We’re all for the occasional break to do something different. We just don’t all do them at the same time.
And that brings up another problem with this idea: If you shut down the entire company for a week and tell everyone to do absolutely no work, what is it going to be like when they get back? How many projects are behind schedule? How many retailers or distributors are frustrated because they’ve been trying to reach someone at corporate and no one is answering?
It’s one thing when you get back from a week’s vacation and you’ve got some work to catch up on, but the company as a whole has been keeping on top of things. When no one has been keeping on top of anything for an entire week? What is that first week back going to be like, if you want to talk about stress . . .
This feels like a stunt to us.
Work is a good part of life. It’s a privilege to have a place to go to every day and get paid for it. Nike is undermining the value of work as a worthwhile and honorable endeavor by suggesting that people can’t be expected to show up and do it without compromising their mental health.
Work is great. At least for us, we enjoy it. But if shutting your company down for a week is the only way you can keep your employees mentally sound, there’s something wrong with your company.