COMP NEWS – Jo Hunter, the CEO and founder of creative agency 64 Million Artists, decided to do something unusual – give her entire company the month of August off, fully paid. The result, she says, was an marked improvement in mental health, ambition, and productivity among workers.

I started 64 Million Artists in 2014. We’re a social enterprise that helps employees in companies, universities, schools, and other organizations rediscover their creativity.

When you treat people well and allow them to follow what’s important to them, they’ll do good work. From the beginning, I wanted to embed those values in my own company.

During the pandemic, we moved to working a four-day workweek and remote working to support our employees.

But as life started to return to normal, I realized my colleagues were burnt out. The company had grown from four to seven employees over the last few years and demand for our creativity workshops increased.

I’d read Brene Brown’s essay about her company giving everyone four weeks off in August and decided to follow suit. No emails on phones or computers. Staff would still get paid, but would not work for a whole month.

The result, according to Jo Hunter, was a surge in clarity and productivity during the busier, more work-intensive months that followed.

When we got back to the office last September we were better at making decisions. The break meant we returned with clarity and ambition, allowing us to come up with more innovative ideas.

The company has grown significantly since last August. We’ve hired four new people and have started some exciting programs. We are expecting to increase our turnover by about 50% this year

In the UK, we see being productive as sitting at our desks churning out emails, but what makes a lasting impact in businesses is innovation, inclusion, and ideas.

You can’t do those things if your staff are burnt out and taking a break helps to prevent that.

As a nation, we’re hardwired to think our validity comes from how hard we work. But when people have the space to pursue their own interests you get so much more out of them at work.

To read more about the business that gave its employees a paid month off, click here.

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