Awareness of mental health & wellness in the workforce has increased greatly in recent years.
A recent study done by the Boston University School of Medicine revealed that “27.8% of U.S. adults had depression symptoms as of mid-April 2020, compared to 8.5% before the COVID-19 pandemic”. These numbers are alarming, and the effects of this have certainly trickled their way into the workforce, affecting workplace performance for organizations.
More than ever, employers are recognizing the importance of keeping employees happy and healthy, and acknowledging how much of a role it plays in employee performance. Employers are also recognizing that Mental Health & Wellness goes beyond just talking about it. If you’re unsure of how you can support your employees, here are a few tangible initiatives you can take – keep reading!
Promote Well Being
Promoting mental health and wellness goes beyond just talking about it. As an employer, you have the power to take tangible action, creating an environment where wellness is prioritized.
Personal Time Off
Allowing your employees a certain amount of personal time off is an effective initiative you can launch to promote mental health and wellness. Note, that personal time off is different from vacation days. Personal time off is meant for employees to use when they aren’t feeling well – physically, mentally, or if someone just needs a day off to rest.
Allowing a set amount of personal time off and encouraging your team to take advantage of it shows employees that you care and that their health is a priority to you. It also fosters a safe space for your employees to talk about mental health & wellness. Most importantly, it reminds everyone that it’s completely normal and okay to have off days.
When you’re implementing personal time off into your business, it’s important to make it easy for your employees to take these days off. At Envol, we have a no-questions-asked policy. We recognize there may be many reasons why someone needs a day off. Too many times, we see organizations making it hard for their employees to do so.
While protocols are important to keep track of your employees, you want to make it as simple as possible to take personal days. You also want to train your people leaders not to ask too many questions that discourage or unconsciously guilt your employees when they ask to take a day off.
And if you already have personal time off implemented in your business – ask yourself – are your employees aware of this? Are you taking the time to promote this initiative?
Encouraging balance is important to sustaining the productivity and mental energy of your employees. Here are some tips:
No Meeting Days
With the transition to remote work, so much of our team’s time has been spent on Zoom, meeting with clients and with each other. Zoom fatigue is real, and over time, many of us started feeling fatigued, mentally, and emotionally drained. In response, our leader Brianna implemented “no meeting days”. She encouraged us to not book any meetings at all one day per week. We chose Thursdays as it made sense for our business. No meeting days allow us solo time to catch up on work. It also allows us to relax and refresh, and to slow down, taking a break from endless calls. While it’s not always possible to stick to our no meeting days (especially in our line of work, where being responsive to clients is our priority), we still try our best to keep those days free of unnecessary meetings.
Get out and walk!
Walking, whether just for 5 to 20 minutes is shown to benefit our health and improve focus. Instead of hosting all your meetings via Zoom or Teams, are there any meetings you can replace for a walking meeting? If so, we highly encourage it! Additionally, encourage your employees to take short breaks throughout the day to walk.
Encourage Vacation Days
As we’re living through a pandemic, travelling somewhere relaxing to recharge and refresh is no longer an option for most of us. It’s important to remind your employees of their allotted vacation days and to encourage them to still use them. Burnout gets the best of us, and it’s imperative that we all take a break and use our vacation days – whether there’s somewhere to travel to or not.
Implement Playful, Fun Initiatives.
Not all mental health & wellness initiatives have to be complicated – there are a lot of small, simple, and fun ways to connect virtually!
Snacks & Gifts
I don’t know about you – but a fun perk of working from the office is the snacks and free food that comes with it! If your team has also transitioned into remote work like us and has been missing this delightful perk – we are here to spread some good news. Platforms like Guusto allow you to send your team money and gift cards to purchase snacks or gifts while working from home! If there’s a will, there’s always a way!
Get creative and plan some fun virtual things for your team occasionally! Whether that’s a yoga or mindfulness training session once a month, or a book club. Whatever you plan, it’s nice to build a relationship with your team doing something different.
At Envol, we assign a team member to be our “weekly ambassador” each week. The responsibility of the weekly ambassador is to plan something fun or educational for the team during that week. These “meetings” are set up by our weekly ambassador and usually lasts 15-30 minutes. It allows us an opportunity to connect with each other on something other than work. Examples of things our ambassadors planned for us in the past include a team mid-day stretching session, virtual escape room, skincare 101, and even playing Pictionary via Zoom!
Bonding over something unrelated to our work gives everyone something to look forward to each week. It also allows us to get a mental break from our tasks and focus on something fun and brand new.
We hope you’ve gained insight from this article and found ideas on how you can promote mental health awareness and wellness in your workplace! We firmly believe these are all great and actionable initiatives that will benefit your employees.
However, we want to end by reminding everyone that our world is also changing rapidly. Even with the best mental health & wellness initiatives, your team members can still experience mental funks. They can still go through periods where they aren’t able to perform at their best. If you notice your employee or a colleague struggling – be patient, offer help, and check in on them. As an employer and leader, remember to check in on yourself too. We all matter.
For more resources related to health and productivity, check out these posts:
Need help implementing workplace initiatives? Contact us at [email protected] and let us know how we can help you!