We really can’t sugarcoat it – we’ve all been through a lot, especially in recent years. That applies to both the workforce and just in general. We’ve seen illness like never before, constant human rights’ violations, and unspeakable violence. The old notion of separating our professional and personal lives is essentially slipping away, as working from home truly merges the two. With these events that affect us all on top of our individual stressors, it’s no wonder that mental health in the workplace is at an all-time low. Nearly 31% of surveyed employees reported a decline in their mental health. On the policy end, 86% of employers claim that mental health and burnout prevention is a top priority, while only 49% have an actionable plan to back the initiative. That being said, it’s clear that companies need some help finding ways to keep their teams mentally and emotionally healthy. Let’s get you on your way to crafting some strategies to improve mental health in your organization.
Before diving into solutions, we need to understand what it is that we are trying to remedy.
Burnout can show up with physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. You might feel exhausted, depressed, irritated, critical, and feel a disruption to your regular sleep. Headaches? Upset stomach? It could all be related to burnout!
A Gallup study showed 23% of employees feel burned out often, and an additional 44% feel burned out sometimes. Because of this, companies are realizing that it can lead to dips in productivity, retention, and it can eventually cost them more in high healthcare bills.
Most employers believe it’s caused by unmanageable workloads—and yes, high workloads are a contributing factor to employee burnout, but they’re not the only cause. Other reasons include:
Employers should focus their philosophy on prevention—and you can start during the onboarding process, when the employee is still learning about the company’s culture, alleviating the factors mentioned above can reduce the likelihood that burnout will occur.
Now let’s get to what you can do about this.
In an overwhelming moment sometimes the little things can make a bigger difference than you think. Take time every week to remind employees to:
It’s no secret that social distancing and remote work is going to take its toll on everyone in someway or another. And we don’t know what that is going to look like yet. It’s important to have a support system. Know what to look for according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It’s also important to stress that these programs are to encourage the small things, however, if you or someone you know is suffering, reach out to a professional. For GoCo employees and their dependents, MDLive and our health plans have mental health support. I try to remind our employees about these benefits on a regular basis, just to keep it top-of-mind.
We also recently partnered with Headspace to offer guided meditation subscriptions to our employees. Headspace is doing a lot of education on the benefits of meditation and we are thrilled to be able to provide this option. Rich Pierson, the CEO of Headspace, says they are “expand[ing] access to [their] meditation content to help folks manage anxious thoughts and build mental resilience and navigate through this uncertainty.”
Since we went remote, GoCo has used weekly surveys to gather feedback. We noticed at the beginning of quarantine that there was a sense of disconnect between direct reports and their managers. We also heard people needed to understand how we were connecting to the community at large. From this was born the Walk & Talk (& listen) challenge. Here’s the document. One of the challenge’s goals was to help us keep connected in the time of social distancing. As Jack Kwicien put it in Connecting with clients and prospects during a pandemic, “…together we will emerge from this a stronger and better society.”
A major component in better understanding employee stressors and better supporting them is to offer a platform to gather and track employee feedback. Modern HR software like GoCo offers team feedback features for employees and managers. GoCo’s Employee Timeline, available through the Performance Management feature, is designed to enable employees to write any notes, accomplishments, stressors, and progress alongside employment changes and performance documents so that managers can be kept in the loop and track patterns.
From 1:1 meeting notes to improvements and challenges, employees have the opportunity to write what’s weighing on their minds, and they are able to choose the visibility of their notes. Whether it’s a private note for their own benefit or a shared accomplishment or obstacle they would like managers and HR to see, they are given the flexibility in the HRIS to do so. Thus, an employee feedback feature serves a dual purpose by: creating a space for an employee to release any thoughts and creating a streamlined way for employees to provide feedback if something isn’t right so it can be addressed ASAP.
Meditation is an art that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Taking the time to tune out the noise and really check-in with yourself can be incredibly healing. However, we’re so used to being distracted by external forces and even our own busy minds. That’s why apps specializing in guided meditation can be truly invaluable for winding down after a busy day!
Check these ones out!
Check out their business plans and see which one would be a good fit for your team!
Healthy Minds @ Work is a great option for getting your whole team on the same page!
This idea is essentially the live and in-person version of a meditation application. We suggest putting a pin in this one until after COVID is a thing of the past, or taking the necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of your workforce.
A meditation class gives you two benefits for the price of one. Firstly, your team gets to connect with their inner-self and see if meditation is something that could help them cope with stress and anxiety. Secondly, it’s a bonding experience for the whole group! Let your team destress in the company of their coworkers so that it’s both relaxing and fun.
Here are some resources to check out if you’re considering doing this:
They offer anything from a brief introductory class all the way up to an hour-long Mindfulness Session! As of now, they are working on Zoom, so this is a great virtual option!
They also offer yoga and pilates classes in addition to meditation!
With a variety of meditation focuses to choose from, you’re sure to find a class that works for your organization.
For accurate pricing, request quotes based on your organization’s size and specific needs!
Unless you have a phobia of dogs, there is absolutely no way that a room full of puppies wouldn’t make your day infinitely better. Puppy play time is a strategy utilized by several universities, such as McGill University, Bucknell University, and the University of Ohio, to help their students keep stress levels under control during the most hectic part of the semester – finals. Puppy love isn’t something we age out of, so your team is sure to love a day full of furry friends!
Smiles and Fur Friends Houston is a non-profit pet therapy group that offers monthly or one-time visits with trained and certified personal pets! The organization is composed of volunteers who enlist their own furry friends to help other people. There is no cost for this service, but donations are greatly appreciated.
If you want to go for a more in-house route, encourage your team to bring their pets into the office for a day! We miss our four-legged friends when we’re at work. Why not let them tag along?
Nothing helps you decompress like a solid, deep tissue massage. Anyone who has ever gotten one can confirm that it makes you feel like an entirely new person!
For a more COVID-friendly route, let GoCo be your inspiration. Our office has a relaxation room lined with massage chairs so that our team can go decompress when they feel the need to! By eliminating the need for another person, we eliminate some of the risk of COVID transmission while still allowing our employees to get a good massage in!
Here are some options to look into:
After a tough day in the office, something that helps us unwind is aromatherapy from an essential oil diffuser. Relaxing while the soothing scent of lavender, eucalyptus, or whatever your scent of choice is, is sure to aid in your night-time de-stressing process! Consider sending this gift to your team – it’ll make a fantastic addition to any home! However, do note that some essential oils may be toxic to pets, so do your research before proceeding with this idea!
Here are some great options:
Here’s an easy step you can take to help your team avoid burning out during the day. Making sure that your employees pace themselves and allowing them time throughout the day to step away from their desks will yield benefits for both them and the organization as a whole. Time to rest ensures better focus during time spent working and increased productivity! We all know that sometimes we work for about half of the day and then just pretend to work for the other half. You might as well allow for some downtime in order to optimize the workday!
The sooner we realize that employees have needs outside of the workplace, the better. This includes making sure that your team gets an adequate amount of physical activity and that their desk chair is not the only place they spend their day! Providing gym memberships for your employees takes the hassle of finding a fitness center off of your teams’ plates, and it also shows that you care for their well-being. It’s a win-win!
Some gyms that offer corporate memberships include:
For accurate pricing, request quotes based on your organization’s specific needs!
Carrying on the theme of your employees’ physical well-being, consider treating your team to some delicious and nutritious snacks! Instead of the usual go-to bag of chips, give your team some quality snacks that will actually act as fuel for them throughout the day.
Check out these options from NatureBox! Their snack boxes are highly customizable and they do a great job of catering to a variety of dietary needs. One of their boxes is even titled the “Less Stress Box,” which perfectly coincides with this article!
Their prices on these boxes ranges from $33.99 to $60.99, but you can get discounted rates if you become a NatureBox member!
When we think of ways to wind down, we think of music, dim lights, a peaceful atmosphere, and we can’t forget tea! A good cup of freshly brewed tea can be just what your employees need either after a stressful day at work or even during the day while they’re in the office! Offer a brief, cozy escape from the hectic hustle and bustle of day-to-day life.
Check out this assortment from DavidsTea! ($32.50) With a variety of 12 cozy blends, your team will definitely find some that they love and that help them get through the day!
One of the best things you can do for your employees is to ensure that you are there to support them, both professionally and personally. By keeping counseling services on deck and by providing mental health benefits, you would be removing those initial hurdles of finding someone to talk to and being able to pay for it, which are often why people choose not to seek therapy. In HR, we sometimes can’t see exactly how much what we do impacts and helps our team. This is something we can do that can for sure help your team immensely.
Here are some great resources to consider enlisting:
For accurate pricing, request quotes based on your organization’s specific needs!
Understanding that the people in your company are the first priority, no matter what, is absolutely crucial to ensuring your success as an organization. At the end of the day, meeting company goals and hitting certain numbers means nothing if you aren’t doing your part to prioritize mental health and make sure that the people who are making all of that happen are content. We hope you implement some of these ideas into your company and that your team can benefit from them!