One week after taking time off for their mental health — a week away from work with pay — Señor Froggy owner Rob Stodola said his employees are reporting feeling happy to be back at work and appreciative for the break.
From Sept. 13 to Sept. 20, the downtown and North Shore locations of the local Mexican restaurant shut down operations to give all staff a paid break after reported burnout amidst the effects of this summer’s heat wave, a month-and-a-half of smoke, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and findings of probable graves on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
“I think it was a very worthwhile thing to do,” Stodola told KTW. “It seemed to rejuvenate everybody.”
Stodola said he has noticed more smiles, laughter and joking around in his two restaurants since the reopening on Sept. 21, adding he would do it again if need be.
“Everybody was happy with that [time off]. Half of them wanted more,” Stodola said with a laugh.
He noted it was clear how overstressed staff members were by the fact most of them reported doing “virtually nothing” and just relaxing during their time away from work.
“It was surprising, a little bit worrisome, how many of them had several days where they just couldn’t move,” he said. “They needed that time and, obviously, their bodies were going on adrenaline.”
As for Stodola, the small-business owner took that week off and avoided work-related emails and voicemails.
“I had to be very disciplined in that,” he said.
Instead, Stodola spent time with his kids, went for drives around town with his wife and completed some household projects.
While there is a financial hit to weather, and it will be about three or four months until that’s fully realized, Stodola said it was worth it.
“Everything in business costs. Yes it’s a financial hit, but we had decided that to begin with. We went into it with eyes wide open,” Stodola said.
He said the restaurants were busy before the week and off and continue to be upon reopening.
The restaurants opened amid the new public health order requiring proof of vaccination to attend certain non-essential businesses and events.
With Señor Froggy being a fast food, counter-service restaurant, checking customers’ vaccine status is not something employees will have to do, though Stodola is encouraging staff and customers get vaccinated.
Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week