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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.”

Wow. 

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:

Time.

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 Inc.com.

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