We Gave Employees One Day Off Per Month | Built In (2024)

In the last five years, America’s mental health crisis reached an all-time high. Roughly 615 million people live with a mental illness, and 60 percent of those people don’t get the help they need.

As a chief executive officer in today’s corporate America, I see a great opportunity to make real changes in this crisis, especially in the workplace, and hope to inspire others to join in the conversation. I have seen first-hand the effect that mental health has had on friends, family and coworkers.

As the leader of a company that touts whole-body healthcare as our core mission, this rising crisis inspired me to prioritize mental health as our north star. I’ve learned that real, measurable action can only happen if the company gets real about the issue at hand and works to actively dismantle decades of societal stigmatization.

Mental Health in Employees: Statistics

According to a recent study from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 52 percent of nationally polled employees in the U.S. reported experiencing burnout in the last year, while 36 percent said their mental health suffered because of demands at work.

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How Does More Time Off Impact Performance?

For OLLY, this work started several years ago, and includes just one of our efforts to prioritize mental health in our workplace by reducing the team’s overall work hours through our Mental Health Fridays.

We tackled this by first analyzing our internal ways of working and ultimately lessened our total monthly hours, giving the full company an extra day off every month, in addition to four weeks of annual paid time off and holidays.

This is nowhere near a solution to the workplace mental health problem in the U.S., but we’ve seen this tactic have a positive impact on our employees, creating more of a work-life balance while having zero impact on overall company performance. It shows our team that while we value our business, we also value taking time for yourself so you can show up to work as your best self.

In response to the work we are doing, I am sharing a few key strategies my team uses to reimagine the traditional work month structure and prioritize important conversations in favor of mental health.

I encourage every leader to take a hard look at their team’s mental health and ask themselves what it would take to cultivate an environment where mental health was not just acknowledged but prioritized.

Model the Behavior You Want to See

One of my biggest goals as CEO is to foster a culture of openness around mental health.

When we set out on this journey, I knew we could not ask our team to be open about their struggles without first demonstrating that behavior with our leadership team. We started by openly sharing mental health resources and our own experiences, creating a safe space for the team to provide feedback on the impact of workload on mental health, and honoring our monthly Mental Health Fridays as a true day off.

I’ve been genuinely surprised at the positive impact this guilt-free time has had on our team and my own mental well-being. Having the permission and privilege to unplug and turn inward has become a treasured benefit.

Positive actions must be modeled, not preached. If we want to see tangible mental health change, we as leaders must first prioritize our own mental health by accepting time off and encouraging our team to do the same.

Use Real Data to Make Cultural Change

In nearly every aspect of running a business, we use data to inform our decisions. We need to use similar data tools to inform office cultural decisions that impact mental health.

Just like you would develop a strategy for a new product launch, develop a comprehensive approach to mental health that includes time off, benefits and work norms.

In the last 12 months, we’ve executed two mental health discovery assessments around employees’ experiences with mental health, work and organizational culture. We’re asking tough questions about bandwidth, emotionally draining work, mental health symptoms and more. These results allow us to track year-over-year progress, both positively and where we can improve.

Our 2024 progress update revealed that 80 percent of employees felt that the additional time off with Mental Health Fridays was the biggest improvement OLLY had made towards mental health in the last year.

On the flip side, we also heard from the team that workloads could be better adjusted, which we were able to do because of these assessments. We also received feedback from our team that hosting Mental Health Friday at the end of the month was causing more stress for roles with end-of-month priorities and reporting.

We took this feedback seriously and adjusted our schedule to have a day off in the middle of the month, which better suits the needs of our whole team. We’re not afraid to make tough decisions when our team lets us know they need more support.

Collecting ongoing data and feedback about our progress is an important tool in continuing to show up for our team in the ways they need most. If this is a challenge you are similarly looking to take on, I encourage you to start real open conversations with your team, listen to feedback and track progress over time.

Ask for Support From Professionals

But what’s next? We cannot become stagnant in our work to destigmatize mental health, so we are constantly looking inward to see what we can tweak, big or small.

We just kicked off our first internal Mental Health Advisory Committee to bring even more voices into the conversation and regularly work with expert partners like NAMI, Mind Share Partners and SeekHer to give us guidance when we need it. I recommend finding experts in the field to support your company’s goals. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.

We also regularly incorporate mental health trainings for the entire staff to keep this top of mind in everything we do.

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A Healthy Workplace: the New Normal

At my company, reimagining the structure of a traditional work month is just one piece of our work transforming this issue and making small steps toward change.

My hope for fellow leaders is that this inspires you to reconsider what a healthy workplace looks like and whether you are fostering one. Work to create welcoming, supportive workplace environments free of mental health stigma.

Let’s let that be the new normal.

We Gave Employees One Day Off Per Month | Built In (2024)


How much notice do I need to give for one day off? ›

The general notice period for taking leave is at least twice as long as the amount of leave you want to take (unless there is a more informal arrangement with your employer or your contract of employment says otherwise).

How do you tell an employee to take a day off? ›

  1. Determine the need. A manager may request an employee take leave for many reasons. ...
  2. Consult with Human Resources. ...
  3. Arrange a meeting with the employee to determine his reasons for not taking leave. ...
  4. Explain the need for leave. ...
  5. Include a mandated leave policy in your employee handbook.

Is 2 weeks notice enough for a day off? ›

Employees may submit paid time off (PTO) requests after they've given two weeks' notice, but employers can legally deny those requests. You're entitled to a PTO payout (in conjunction with your final paycheck) if you're among the 24 states stipulating this in their labor laws.

Can my boss refuse to give me a day off? ›

Paid vacation time or sick time is not legally required in most areas of the United States, so even if you request time away, your employer usually does not have to give it to you. Your employer can generally deny your request for time off if you are using vacation time, paid time off (PTO), or sick time.

How much notice for day off? ›

Two weeks' notice might be all that's needed for a couple days off, while a longer vacation may require advance notice of a few months. However you decide to do it, make sure you communicate your requirements clearly.

What is your notice period answer? ›

Interviewer: What is your notice period? Candidate: As per my contract, I have a 90-day notice period. This reflects the importance of a smooth transition for my current employer and any potential new role. I'm committed to fulfilling my duties during this time.

How do you say day off professionally? ›

I am writing to request a personal day off on [date/dates]. This time will allow me to attend to important personal matters. I will make sure all my work is up to date before my day off, and I am happy to work extra hours if necessary, before or after my requested date, to ensure all my responsibilities are managed.

What do you say when you need a day off from work? ›

I want to request time off for [dates] because of [reason]. My team doesn't have any pressing deadlines or work during [dates you're requesting off]. Would it be acceptable if I use my vacation time then? I'm happy to discuss further details with you if you'd like.

How to tell an employee they are taking too much time off? ›

In this case, it's crucial to have documentation of the absences and a clear attendance policy that defines what is considered excessive. During your discussion with the employee, explain your policy, provide evidence of their absences, and explain why their absences are impacting the team or company.

Is 2 days notice enough? ›

It's common courtesy to give at least one week's notice to your employer if you've been with your company for more than one month but less than two years. Consider giving two weeks' notice even if you've only been with your company for a few months.

Do you need to give notice for a personal day? ›

Give your coworkers notice ahead of time

Even if you need to take a personal day for something sudden and unplanned, sending your coworkers an email or talking to them in-person shows that you respect their time and workload.

How to write a day off request letter? ›

How to Write a Day Off Request Email
  1. A straightforward subject line (e.g., "Day Off Request: [Your Name] - [Date]")
  2. A professional yet friendly tone.
  3. The specific date and reason for your one-day rendezvous with freedom.
  4. A plan for dealing with any work that may come up during your absence.
  5. A cheery sign-off.

Can I ignore my boss on my day off? ›

So to summarize, yes, your boss can fire you for not answering your phone on your day off. Some employers are respectful of employees' time off. Others may abuse at-will employment laws and harass you consistently on your days off.

Can you get fired for taking too many days off? ›

The State of California's Paid Sick Leave Laws

It is illegal for a California employer to terminate your employment if you use sick leave that you have accrued and are entitled to use. If you are fired for using your sick leave, you might be able to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination.

Can I get fired for not coming in on my off day? ›

Your Job is Not Protected When You are Off

Employers typically give you this time to incur good will. Some states do, however, require it. But your employer is still free to fire you for any non-discriminatory reason.

How many weeks notice do I need to give to leave work? ›

How Much Notice is Required?
Employee's period of continuous service with the employerPeriod of notice
Not more than one yearOne week
More than one year but not more than three yearsTwo weeks
More than three years but not more than five yearsThree weeks
More than five yearsFour weeks
May 22, 2024

How much notice should you give a job before you leave? ›

Generally, you should give your employer a two-week notice before quitting. While no federal or state laws require you to do so, a notice period allows sufficient time to tie up loose ends and say your goodbyes without throwing the company's operations into disarray.

Can I quit with one day notice? ›

No state or federal law requires you to notify your boss two weeks before leaving your job. If you're an at-will employee, you can leave at any time, and provide as much or as little notice as you'd like. That said, there are still good reasons to provide at least two weeks' notice if you can.

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