Paid week off | Was Bumble's approach the right way to manage wellbeing?

Was Bumble's approach the right way to manage wellbeing?

In mid-June, it was revealed that the dating app Bumble would be closed for one week to give its entire workforce time off to destress and recharge.

In a now-deleted tweet, the employer’s Head of Content praised the Chief Executive’s decision to give staff this paid time off.

Writing on Twitter, Clare O’Connor said that the firm’s bosses had “correctly intuited our collective burnout”.

Bumble Spokeswoman, Rosanna Sacks, later confirmed this week off to Sky News, explaining: "Like everyone, our global team has had a very challenging time during the pandemic.

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"As vaccination rates have increased and restrictions have begun to ease, we wanted to give our teams around the world an opportunity to shut off and focus on themselves for a week.”

News of this week-long holiday for Bumble staff – which is sought to prevent burnout and give staff time to recuperate – has seen industry experts weigh in about whether this was the right approach, with some stating that it would likely have huge impacts on work productivity.

‘No easy choice’

One expert to weigh into the conversation was Zoë Morris, President, Frank Recruitment Group, who explained that giving staff a week off in a single month is “no easy choice to make”, adding that it would likely have huge impacts on productivity levels.

She added: “The fact that Bumble was willing to take this step for the wellbeing of its employees is admirable and will no doubt be appreciated by its staff. 

“Bumble is well-known for having a progressive culture when it comes to wellbeing and employee engagement, and this move is likely a part of a more comprehensive set of initiatives to tackle burnout.”

Despite this, Frank Recruitment Group’s President said it's crucial that employers don’t take this as a “sign that giving staff some extra vacation time can be used to plaster over cracks in their approach to employee wellbeing”.

Morris added that steps should be taken to ensure that the issue of staff burnout doesn’t come to a head.

“Making small changes and addressing wellbeing little and often will help businesses avoid such drastic action," Morris added.

‘Prioritise preventative strategies’

This notion was also supported by Alexia Cambon, Research Director at Gartner HR, who told HR Grapevine that, although Bumble’s approach was effective in acknowledging pandemic-fuelled burnout, “businesses should also prioritise preventative strategies”.

Cambon added: “One approach is to diagnose which work practices are outdated or were created for the office and thus, when applied in the hybrid environment, are creating fatigue. One example is the real phenomenon of virtual overload stemming from the outdated assumption that meetings are the best way to work.

“Another is to empower employees to limit digital distractions and improve ability to focus. This could include encouraging meeting or email free workdays to scale back on digital exposure or championing regular walking meetings or meditation breaks.”

Burnout & the workforce

Particularly in the pandemic year, burnout has dramatically impacted many workforces.

In May 2020, data from LinkedIn’s Glint found that burnout had doubled from March (2.7%) to April (5.4%), while research from the RSA’s Matthew Taylor and Vitality found that multiple lockdowns have worsened employee physical and mental health.

Marcus Beaver, UKI Country Leader at Alight Solutions, said: “Burnout is real, and businesses which take care of employees will reap the rewards in the long-run. Our recent research shows that one-third (31%) are working an average of nearly one extra day per week. 

“Rapacious organisations will end up losing the best talent and will inevitably tank. But those who show they care about their employees will flourish in the long-run,” Beaver concluded.

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