Culture   //   September 10, 2021

‘One of our biggest risks is burning out the team’: Why e-commerce startup Bolt added wellness days this past August

Employees at e-commerce startup Bolt were off on “wellness days” for most of the Mondays ahead of Labor Day this past August. Doing so was a way for the company to combat potential burnout — a rising managerial issue for companies to mitigate amid the pandemic — for its nearly 300 employees, according to Tom Berger, vp of marketing at Bolt. 

“As a startup in the tech space, we realize that one of our biggest risks is burning out the team,” said Berger. “Things like wellness days are put in place to help alleviate burnout and ensure that our employees are taking time off.” 

Bolt is one of a number of companies adding new perks or time off in the hopes of making sure employees don’t become exhausted and demoralized. And given the stress of the Covid-19 variants and uncertainty due to the on-going pandemic, as well as usual Q4 stresses, marketing execs who say they are adding perks and time off to stay on top of employees’ well being. 

Offering three consecutive Mondays ahead of Labor Day was new this year for Bolt and Berger expects that the company will continue to add additional wellness days throughout the year to help support employees as the initiative was well-received. 

Rather than giving employees an extra PTO day to take, Bolt gave the entire office specific days off to make sure the team could actually enjoy the day. “When everyone is off, everyone can recharge,” said Berger. “If everyone’s not off you’re still getting the Slack messages, emails and things like that. It’s just a way for everyone to take time off.” 

Ian Leslie, senior director of retail advocacy at Bolt, took advantage of the wellness days, explaining that being able to take time away allowed people to help de-stress and “take time to step away” and that for the team “these wellness days are really important.” 

Finding ways to add time off or other perks to help employees manage symptoms of burnout will likely help companies with retention in the long run, according to ad recruiter Christie Cordes. 

“It most definitely helps with retention. By acknowledging and meeting employees where they are versus requiring them to ask [for time off] is kindness that people are looking for from employers,” said Cordes. “Most everyone is experiencing some form of grief in this pandemic. Grief can not be truly met, unless it’s acknowledged. [It’s] a very good move to create an environment of caring that many are seeking now.” 

Aside from the wellness days in August, Bolt offers meditation and yoga classes as well as classes on compassion, leadership and anxiety, noted Berger. “We put those in place to give employees a break from day-to-day meetings,” said Berger, adding that the classes and wellness days help the company by having employees come back to work recharged.