What Employers Everywhere Can Learn From Google’s Kind Gesture

A simple gesture that can establish trust and help your people become the best version of themselves.

Photo by christian buehner on Unsplash

As countless Americans have suddenly had to balance working from home with everyday life, it’s natural that they begin to feel symptoms of burnout.

That’s exactly why Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai decided to give his people a gift:

A well-deserved day off.

Pichai elaborated in a recent email to staff (first reported by CNBC):

“I know many of us have been running hard non-stop for a [sic] weeks now and may be experiencing some burnout. So, I also used TGIF [a companywide meeting] as a chance to announce an official day off on May 22.

“Take the time to do whatever you need to do to prioritize your well-being.”


At first look, it’s a simple gesture. But this decision is actually a brilliant lesson in emotional intelligence, the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions.

Let’s break down three reasons why.

1. It’s a way to acknowledge your people.

Everyone craves recognition. In fact, research shows that praise is one of the greatest ways to inspire your employees.

But you know what feels even better than sincere praise from the boss? Giving them that acknowledgement along with a gift. And when it comes to people who have been working nonstop, there’s one gift that’s even more valuable than money:


Giving employees a surprise day off sends a powerful message of gratitude, and helps build a foundation of trust upon which you can build.

2. It gives your people permission to unplug.

In today’s hustle culture, people mistakenly measure their value solely in terms of productivity. Or they get so caught up in going from Zoom meeting to Zoom meeting, many forget to take time off just to catch their breath.

“Lots of leaders, lots of people, have been doing tons of emotional labor and that’s tiring,” says Joshua Freedman, CEO of Six Seconds, a nonprofit organization that specializes in helping people to build emotional intelligence. “If you’re exhausted, take a break. Resting isn’t quitting.”

Reminders like these help people see the big picture. When Pichai tells people expressly to take a day off and then to take that time to “do whatever they need to prioritize their well-being,” he is sending the message that not only is it okay to unplug, it’s necessary as well.

3. It can actually raise productivity.

There’s a ton of research out there that proves that once you work too many hours, your productivity goes way down. For example, in this study from Stanford University professor John Pencavel, research indicated that productivity per hour dropped sharply when a person worked more than 50 hours a week. 

So, by getting his people to actually stop working, Pichai can help them be more productive in the long run. That doesn’t just benefit employees. It benefits Google too.

Remember: It’s a sprint. Not a marathon. 

If you want to build goodwill, and actually help your people to become the best version of themselves, take a page from Google’s playbook and give your people some time off. 

It may be exactly what they need.

Enjoy this post? Check out my book, EQ Applied, which uses fascinating research and compelling stories to illustrate what emotional intelligence looks like in everyday life.

A version of this article originally appeared on

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


How To Progress Up The Career Ladder Without Killing Your Root, Language And Culture

by Shakir Akorede

What is JOMO? The New FOMO Is More Than Real—It’s Wonderful

by Justin Bariso
Isolated woman looking out window

Isolating Yourself Is One Of The Signs Of Burnout (Plus: 4 Tips For Dealing With Isolation)

by Whitney Gordon-Mead, MSc

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.