The Washington Post:

America’s workers are exhausted and burned out — and some employers are taking notice


As the pandemic recedes, workers are still grappling with 15 months of stress. Some companies, including Smart Design, are responding by offering benefits that alleviate stress and boost morale.

Sarah Szeflinski, Smart Design’s people operations director, provided some insight into how the company transitioned to provide its employees with more support.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Smart Design, a strategic design firm based in New York City, tried to keep up a social atmosphere with weekly Zoom happy hours at 5 p.m. Then executives realized that people were still working or had been on video calls for eight hours straight and dreaded getting on yet another one. So the company shifted them to lunchtime.

“We’re rebranding them as midday mental breaks,” said Sarah Szeflinski, Smart Design’s people operations director. “The thinking was, give people this opportunity to say, ‘Okay, I need to walk away from whatever I’m doing, I need to socialize on something outside of my project. Maybe you went to the [office] kitchen to make a coffee and you have that chitchat, and you’re not getting that if you’re home alone.”

“It had a trickle-down effect. It kind of allowed us to say, ‘Look, it’s okay to take time to do nonwork stuff during work hours. It was in the middle of the day; the company is hosting this for you.”


Read the full article in The Washington Post.

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Jul 2021