Though it’s always been important, after the pandemic, people really started putting an emphasis on good mental health, especially when it comes to the workplace. Need suggestions on how to best support your team’s mental health? The MHN Executive Council shares their best advice.
In our department, the famous unofficial motto is “we are not splitting the atom,” which means we do what we can do and there will be work tomorrow. It’s important, as a leader, that team members can vocalize they are “burning out” and to support them as they pull back on hours, go home at a reasonable hour, come in an hour or so late, etc. Especially for us, creativity in marketing is not robotic. Genius ideas come about at 2 a.m. or 6 p.m. Our schedules have to be fluid in order to allow great ideas to develop and flow.
As an organization, we are instilling more fun days including division activities to baseball games, entertainment venues, etc. We are focusing more on saying “thank you” to team members for choosing our company to work at by way of presents to employees, weeks of gratitude, etc. It’s important that we realize it’s not hard work all the time. We can, instead, work hard and play, too. We are also communicating that vacation time is there for a reason, and we actually increased our vacation benefit package. There are no awards for not taking time off. We want people to take time for themselves.
Life truly is a balance and I believe the pandemic made us too accessible—work is no longer 9 to 5 but worse. There is a saying that other countries work to live whereas we live to work. —Christine Gustafson, Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations, The Breeden Co.
Employee Assistance Programs—We offer and encourage team members and their families to utilize the EAP for help when dealing with various life challenges.
Mental Health Insurance Benefits—We include mental health coverage as part of our health care plan. We cover both mental health-related care and alternative care, such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractors.
Mental Well-being Policy—We have a policy in place for employees that include resources for both individuals to access but also managers to assist with leading people.
Healthy Self-Care—We are a predominantly remote company (even pre-pandemic). This allows for opportunities to take meetings on treadmills, use standing desks, exercise before or after work or during our lunch break. We also promote using PTO whenever possible.
Inclusivity—We pride ourselves on operating a workspace that is welcoming, safe and inclusive for all. Our internal DEI committee works to acknowledge all holidays, promotes information sharing on all cultures, has an open environment to share and listen, among many other things. We believe that when employees can be their authentic selves, everyone is happier and our productivity is higher.
Family First Mentality—Allowing flexibility in the workplace when things arise. Our leadership understands the importance of life outside of work and places a priority on family. —Stephanie Anderson, Senior Director, Grace Hill
Be Open and Honest
For team members to feel comfortable there must be open dialog about mental heath to remove any taboo that hold people back from talking about how they feel. Social media, company and customer events, brown bag meetings and emails or letters sent directly to your employee’s homes helps promote awareness and show that you care.
Leaders play an important role in reinforcing mental health and wellness. Something as simple as asking “How are you doing?” or “Is there anything that we can do for you?” Getting out of your office and being with your frontline team gives you an opportunity to take the pulse of your team members, ask questions and share ideas. —Maria Pietroforte, President, Maria Pietroforte Consulting
Communication is Key
We support team member’s mental health through communication. We are a flat organization and team members in every role not only have access to the leaders in our company, but are encouraged to share their ideas, suggestions and concerns. Our supervisors are empowered to be approachable and compassionate, and that has created the trust needed for our team members to be vulnerable about their needs. We also provide opportunities for team members to provide anonymous feedback. Through anonymous surveys we learned that our team members ‘strongly agree’ that their manager is checking in regularly enough with how they’re doing and not just work-related stress. We did have requests for more paid time off offerings, and responded by adding five additional personal days for our team members to use at their discretion to support their wellbeing. —Diana Norbury, Senior Vice President, Pillar Properties
Open and transparent communication is vital to boosting our team’s mental health, and we consistently keep our team members well-informed about our company’s goals, challenges, opportunities and progress. This approach not only empowers our associates with a clear sense of direction, but also fosters a cohesive and united workforce.
We also emphasize the importance of celebration. Our traditions include the symbolic act of “Ringing the Bell,” which celebrates achievements and milestones. We frequently host happy hours, with activities like ping-pong, and we a hold an annual event dedicated to fostering connections, recognizing exceptional contributions and providing opportunities for reward and enjoyment. Recently, we had our annual “Everopoly” event, which is our customized version of the game Monopoly.
Additionally, we actively promote health and well-being within our organization by publishing monthly tips aimed at enhancing overall wellness. We also engage our team in activities such as steps contests, which instill a sense of healthy competition and encourage physical activity.
To further support our team members’ mental well-being, we have established an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and prominently promote its availability on our intranet. This initiative serves as a valuable resource, providing professional assistance and guidance to our associates—all of which can be accessed confidentially whenever they may require it. —Mary Herrold, Vice President of Marketing, Evergreen Real Estate Group
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