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DEI Blog Series: Encouraging Inclusivity in the Workplace with Wellness Days

This is the final installation of Envol’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Series!

Our goal is to support organization leaders in taking real action to advance DEI within their teams, throughout their business, and in their communities.

We’re finishing off this series with a note on wellness days and their benefits to employees when implemented in the workplace.

What are “Wellness Days”?

Wellness days are for employees to use for any reason, but typically for reasons other than physical illness. It’s time off that is designated for employees to use at their discretion, whether it’s to recharge or just take some time for themselves. Wellness days are separate from annual leave or vacation days.

Recently, companies have started to reframe their sick days as wellness days to combat burnout (The Atlantic, 2022). This offers their employees the flexibility of taking a day off when they aren’t physically ill but may need some extra time to relax and recharge.

At Envol, we give our team “personal days,” which can be used for any purpose. This gives us the option to disconnect when we’re not feeling 100%, whether it’s physically or mentally.

While wellness or personal days are not a solution for the mental health challenges, they do offer some support. This extra time off allows people to step away from work – guilt-free – to do what needs to be done to feel like themselves again.

3 Top Benefits of Wellness Days in the Workplace

Wellness days directly impact your team’s overall health and wellbeing. Here are 3 of their top benefits:

  1. Guilt-free time to recharge. Mental health can slip under the radar since there are often no physical symptoms associated with the challenges your employees may face. As a result, employees may feel discouraged from taking a sick day for something that isn’t a physical illness. This inherently hinders inclusivity in the workplace because team members facing mental health challenges push through the hard days instead of taking time off. Wellness days offer that flexibility to disconnect without the guilt, no questions asked.
  2. They don’t HAVE to be used for health-related matters. The beauty about wellness days is that they can be used for anything. Got a sick kid you need to watch at home? Have a day full of appointments you need to cross off your list? Need a day to mindlessly binge Netflix or simply do nothing? Wellness days are there for your team to do what they need to do to put themselves in the right headspace when they’re ready to return to work.
  3. Increased productivity at work. After disconnecting, re-focusing their energy, and refreshing their mindsets, employees can show up to work ready to take on the day! Wellness days are a great way to ensure employees are taking time off in a way that’s beneficial for both their wellbeing and performance at work.
3 Tips for Implementing Wellness Days in Your Workplace
  1. Rebrand sick days as wellness days. This will help reduce the stigma around taking days off for health and wellness matters.
  2. Encourage the use of this time off. Set a good example to the rest of your team by using your own wellness days and encouraging them to do the same!
  3. Don’t ask about the reason for taking a wellness day. Unless the information is offered to you, don’t ask what employees are using their wellness days for. It’s up to them to use the days in whichever way is most beneficial to them and their wellbeing.

Not sure about your next steps? Reach out to our team of HR experts – we’re here to help!

Check out the other articles in our DEI Blog Series here!