With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to disrupt work-life balance, South African telco MTN is offerings five extra paid leave days to all employees in an effort to stave off burnout as the company says it is concerned about the mental health of employees.
“As the tough conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve MTN has taken decisive action to ensure that its employees prioritise their rest and wellness by offering all employees an opportunity to apply for a fully-paid, fully-offline one-week holiday, over and above their annual leave allocations,” the company says.
The pandemic has seen the traditional workplace upended, blurring the boundaries between work and home, meaning employees no longer have the luxury of “punching out” on the workplace, nor do they “clock out” of their personal lives when they arrive in the workplace.
“COVID-19 continues to add pressure and I have also seen how much more strain is put on our people and the business overall. In addition to the severe health concerns resulting from infections, we are seeing a much wider impact on the overall mental health and wellbeing of our workforce,” explains MTN SA’s Chief of HR, Tebogo Maenetja.
“At MTN, we sought out insights into this growing trend and through various feedback channels we found that some of our people are experiencing strain, fatigue and in some instances burn-out.”
The pandemic has disrupted work-life separation and MTN says it found that employees were consistently working considerably longer days than deemed healthy.
“The lack of a commute had seen our people sitting down at their desks at 7 am and leaving at 7 pm and we have had to push back against this kind of behaviour as 16 months in – people are exhausted,” MTN says.
To respond significantly to the pressing need for its employees to take the time to rest, recharge and rejuvenate the company has introduced the MTN Spring Break initiative.
“The initiative will run between 1 August and 31 October 2021 and sees all employees, including contractors, as well as employees in the stores and call centres, receive one week of complete shutdown – no emails, no calls, and no meetings. It’s our thank-you to staff for helping MTN to make the “New Normal” work,” explains Maenetja.
Over this period MTN says it remains committed to ensuring that services to its customers remain accessible and without interruption.
“We believe that a healthy workforce will result in higher levels of efficiency and productivity and ultimately a better customer experience.”
Maenetja also pointed to other initiatives that MTN introduced in an effort to establish a better work-life balance, “We have onboarded a new employee wellness provider and introduced initiatives such as ‘No meeting day’ where MTN encourages all employees across its operations to not hold any internal meeting the whole day, this happens once a month.”
“Around the world and across industries, organisations, including ourselves have had to rethink what work looks like in fundamental ways. And it’s on all of us — from senior executives to individual contributors — to provide meaningful solutions to navigate the days, months, and even years ahead.”
“For MTN, we will continue to find ways to ensure we are a compassionate organisation that prioritises our employee’s wellbeing and wellness which we believe is vitally important especially during these tough times,” concludes Maenetja.