GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (FOX 9) - The Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, Minnesota is doing something unusual for its employees over election week after management saw levels of stress rise related to everything from the pandemic to politics.
There aren’t many quiet moments for staff at the AHS, with business becoming even more hectic during the pandemic.
“Now, we’re even more short-staffed, so we’re feeling the hit right now,” said Dr. Angelica Dimock, the managing shelter veterinarian at the Animal Humane Society.
Staff out sick, more demand at their medical centers, and operational changes at AHS are all taking their toll on the nonprofit’s workforce.
“That stress starts to exhibit itself in a variety of ways more people calling in more people needing time to just take a mental break away,” said Janelle Dixon, the president and CEO of Animal Humane Society.
That got the leadership team thinking how they can best take care of their people.
“We started looking at a day off and ultimately decided, let’s do a week of time where people can take a step back and take time to do what they need,” said Dixon.
AHS staff will have a full paid week off from Nov. 2 to 9. Shelters and vet centers will be closed for employees to vote, rest, and recover – a move health experts say is a step ahead.
“It’s the first I’ve heard of it and it’s such a wonderful show of support for their employees, it just really shows that they care,” said Pat Frazier, a University of Minnesota psychology professor.
While many other companies are giving employees Election Day off, AHS leaders say a full week off was important to do and sets a good example.
“I really think other businesses for profit, not-for-profit should really be thinking hard about what are the ways we are supporting our employees who are our number one resource in our companies,” said Dixon.
It’s a reminder of how important good mental health can be for our physical health, too.
“When you’re more stressed your more susceptible to getting viruses like getting colds and susceptible to viruses like COVID,” said Frazier.
Ahead of the week off, AHS is hoping to adopt as many animals as they can up to Nov. 1. During the week off, the remaining pets will be housed with fosters. AHS in Golden Valley will reopen on Nov. 10.