Brain Maintenance Day
Service based workplaces are becoming the norm and workers are being paid for their ability to create and think than to push and pull. Unlike a physical injury that occurs on the job site, mental injuries stemming from emotional stress and fatigue at the workplace and at home are not easily diagnosed. When they are, they are very difficult to pin a recovery time to.
I use my brain for a living. I don’t hammer a nail or cut down trees. I press keys on a keyboard and exert a lot of mental energy debugging logical issues and then come up with innovative solutions to them. The tool I use the most is my brain and that tool sometimes gets overused and it’s maintenance gets neglected.
Unfortunately, I can’t just leave my brain at the job site and hope to fix it up in the morning. My brain comes with me on the ride home only to be subjected to the stresses of modern home-life. When does my brain get a break? On the weekend? Our next vacation? Sleep? Not a chance! While the tool of my trade does take some reprieve during the weekend and on those spaced out vacation weeks, it’s only a marginal break and nowhere near enough. There really is no time for brain maintenance unless we purposely make time for it or our brains get so cluttered that it demands attention from us and we end up on leave.
This is where the oft stigmatized “mental health day” comes in. Recently I had one of those weeks where my brain was just too occupied with other thoughts outside of work that it just didn’t have the capacity to be at it’s best when I was sitting at my desk. I could have dragged my weary head into work for another day but unlike other tools for the job, it isn’t a quick swap in and out. I couldn’t ignore the reset and update function of my mental operating system any longer. My brain on this particular day desperately needed to breathe fresh air, walk among trees, and be totally alone with nature. So I called in a brain maintenance day and didn’t hide the fact that I was going out on a date with nature. Stigma be damned, I am born to be honest.
Unlike other jobs where I would simply call in sick and make up an excuse like a headache, belly problems or even a sick child. I didn’t have to do that here at Dovico. There is no stigma attached with calling in sick when your brain is just not tuned in for working. Had I made up an excuse or lied, I would have had to force myself to sit at home and watch TV all day. I wouldn’t dare to venture outside my house in fear I would get caught. But how does that fix me? Management at Dovico understands that sometimes brain maintenance days are essential to being a happy and productive employee. They know our brains are the most important tool for the job so if we need a day to maintain our head-space; we are welcome to do so. It is not seen as a sign of weakness or insubordination.
But what if someone calls in a mental health day all the time and abuses it? In those cases it gives management an ample opportunity to ask the teammate if there are any problems and be open to them to ensure that everything is alright. It could be suggested that they would be better served to use our employee assistance program and seek help from other sources. It really is no different than if a teammate calls in sick with a physical ailment on a consistent basis. Dovico management understands that it is better to manage by exception than it is to manage by rule. If an employee is abusing the personal day policy, it is better to help that one employee than it is to punish the entire team.
I appreciate this management approach as it takes the stress out of calling in sick and not having to worry about the stigma of admitting to mental sickness. Being able to call in a brain maintenance day gives me the power to take advantage of some time off to focus solely on my issues and not adding to them. Dovico doesn’t care if my brain maintenance day is spent fishing, walking, swimming or just laying in bed all day. Dovico understands that even one out of tune brain on the team can lead to a major loss of productivity and morale, so why not allow staff the time they need to help themselves? It only makes “cents”!
The stigma attached to mental health is diminishing in the workforce and the quicker companies like Dovico adapt to that change, the quicker these companies will be able to retain, create and attract top talent. A paycheck is not the only perk to a job as anyone can make money anywhere. It is the focus on each teammate’s individual needs that often results in the winning team and turn in a healthy bottom line. Protecting the most important tool of the trade of each teammate should be of the utmost priority for company and that is why we should all be allowed the occasional brain maintenance day.
Dovico gets it. Does your company?