We know that every year, one in five people are affected by a mental illness, but many don’t speak up or share their challenges because of the social stigma. World Mental Health Day is about opening up the conversation around mental health, removing the stigma, and shifting the focus to wellness rather than illness.  

At Xero, we care about each and every one of our 2,000+ employees. We want to create a positive environment where everyone feels they belong and that they can do the best work of their lives – which is why encouraging and supporting the mental wellness of our people is a really important to us. We cannot afford to ignore the effect that poor mental health has on many of our staff and their families.

With this in mind, I’m really pleased to announce that ‘sick leave’ at Xero will now be called ‘wellbeing leave’.  The change is being made to highlight to our staff and make them comfortable to not only take leave for physical illness or to cover medical procedures, when a partner or dependent requires care, but also to take time off for their own personal wellbeing.

This change to ‘wellbeing leave’ is us making it explicit to our staff that we value their mental health as equally as their physical health and that they can take a leave day for either of these reasons. It’s long been assumed that being sick is physical, but our version is that it could be physical, or mental, or spiritual or emotional.

More and more people worldwide are disclosing the fact that they have mental health conditions or are feeling stressed or under pressure. Though there may be a number of reasons for the rise, the positive aspect I’m seeing is that there is a change in people becoming more comfortable talking about mental wellbeing.

Whether it’s just been a full-on week, or if our staff is struggling with anxiety or depression and can’t face the day, we want to empower them to take the time to recharge and recover. To put it simply, we don’t want people to feel like they have to come to work when they aren’t in the right state to be here.

We’re a global tech company dealing with people across multiple time zones in a fast-paced environment. We need to support our staff with their resilience – we need to make sure that they are taking time out when they need it to look after their wellbeing.

This is just a another small step that we are taking to support our people and I think this is something all organisations should embrace.

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