“People need a moment”: Who Gives a Crap gifts employees a week off for mental health and self-care

Who Gives a Crap

Who Gives a Crap co-founders Danny Alexander, Simon Griffiths and Jehan Ratnatunga. Source: supplied.

Aussie toilet paper startup Who Gives a Crap is gifting all employees an extra five days paid leave, to help them recoup after a wild six months and take care of their mental health.

A statement from the startup noted that “2020 has been really hard”.

“People everywhere are struggling with remote work, no work, lack of childcare, stress, fear grief and all other things that come with living in such extraordinary circumstances. Our team is no different,” the statement said.

“As a company, we take mental health seriously. We want to make sure that our team has time to take care of themselves and their families.”

For the next two weeks, the team will be running at 50% capacity. This week, half of the team have a “no week”, where they’re off the clock entirely, Who Gives a Crap co-founder and chief Simon Griffiths tells SmartCompany.

The other half is having a “slow week”, with all regular meetings cancelled, meaning they’re free to focus on whatever they feel is most pressing.

Next week, the two teams will swap around.

In a tweet last Friday, Griffiths said it has been “quite a year” for the startup.

Back in March, at the very beginning of the pandemic crisis in Australia, and at the peak of ‘toilet paper-gate’, the startup saw a 1000% sales boost.

In July, it announced a massive 750% increase in profits for the 2019-20 financial year, hitting almost $12 million, half of which was donated to charity.

When trying to gauge how employees felt about this past six months, Griffiths says the feedback has been fairly conclusive.

“It was really exhilarating and fun and exciting, but that can also take a mental toll,” he explains.

“We know that our team will work really hard, because we’re all rallying behind this shared goal,” he adds.

“That means our team will often dig really deep to help us get here.”

That also means, however, that so far this year, employees have not been taking any time off, for fear of leaving their colleagues in the lurch.

And this is all at a time when everyone is facing stress outside of the workplace, as well.

Who Gives a Crap offers employees access to a wellbeing platform, which provides coaching, therapy and mental health support.

Over the last few months, more and more people have been using that platform, Griffiths says. But they’re also often leaving activities or courses unfinished.

“That’s a big red flag,” the founder says.

“People are too flat out to actually make use of everything we’ve made available.”

If there was ever a time when people needed an extra break, it’s now, Griffiths says.

“We could do something to help and to say thank you.”

But, there’s also a potential benefit in terms of productivity, here. There are still things Griffiths hopes to achieve before the year is out, he says, and burnout will not be conducive to that.

Working at such a pace for such a prolonged period of time isn’t good for individuals, and it isn’t necessarily good for the business.

“We have been working at quite a pace and not taking a moment to stop and come up for air and think about what we’re working on and where we’re going, and making sure we’re on the absolute best way to get there,” he explains.

“We realised that people also need a moment to have that time to reflect and make sure they’re working on the highest-impact things and getting their priorities re-focused for the rest of the year.”

NOW READ: “This is what I need. I’m burnt out and I’m tired”: How these high-profile founders look after their mental health

NOW READ: Business owners “running on empty” as ongoing COVID-19 uncertainty takes a toll on mental health


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