By Kelly Fisher
To say that it’s been a mentally and emotionally draining time would be an understatement. From the stress that a pandemic brings, to the worry around job security, to the pressures of working from home and being hands-on parents, mental health is deteriorating. And while some companies may feel that it’s not up to them to take care of their employees’ mental well-being, many good bosses know that a happy employee is a productive one.
Here are five ways a company can improve employee mental health.
Give teams a break
This is the most obvious one of all. People need a break. Research has shown that people who work from home are spending more time at their desks than ever before. Employees are working harder than ever and they are putting in more hours. This is caused by a number of factors that we don’t need to get into here. Just know that your employees need a break.
Reward them with some time off that doesn’t come from their leave allocation. Irvine Partners, a full-service public relations and integrated marketing agency, recently gave its entire staff complement a Friday off to relax and rest.
“Our team is one of the hardest working in the business and they have been giving it their all over the last few months,” says Hayley van der Woude, MD of the company. “We are aware, however, that they are not superhuman and it’s only natural that they’d be taking straing. So, we decided to close the company for a day and give everyone a mental health day that doesn’t come off their leave allocation. Sure, people could take time off at any time, but when you are given a licence to stop and recharge, it makes all the difference.. What was heartening is how incredibly supportive and understanding our clients were about it. It goes to show that everyone is going through this”.
Host a wellness day
Company wellness days used to focus almost entirely on physical health. There would be stations for cholesterol checks, stations for advice on food to eat, and stations for fitness checks, for example. But, with mental health taking a knock, it’s a good time for companies to look at adding more mental health checks on these days.
A focus like this could mean including free assessments or sessions with therapists on the day, a fun activity that boosts moods and morale, or resources to help employees take better care of their wellbeing.
Do fun team-building
We understand that not everyone is keen on team-building. In fact, you can probably hear people audibly groan when you suggest this. But, more often than not, team-building sessions do wonders for morale and overall mental wellbeing.
When these sessions are fun and held on company time instead of after hours, employees are more likely to get involved and be excited about them. If it needs to be virtual to remain safe, you could try a group Airbnb Online Experience. You could opt to do a live virtual safari together, a group mediation session with a monk or even a funny historial “true vs false” game. There are many experiences to choose from and all allow guests to step away from work for a bit and just relax and have some fun.
Subsidise therapy sessions where possible
We understand that this is not something that all companies can offer. But if you can offer one or two sessions per employee every now and then, it would go a long way towards showing how much you value your team.
These sessions don’t even have to be in-person. They could be through services such as Better Help that allow for virtual consultations via video call, email or even text.
Lead from the front
Employees take their cue from managers. If they see you working until late into the night and starting early in the morning, they will believe that this is expected of them too. They won’t switch off if you don’t.
If you show that you have tools to spend time with your family or to do something that brings you joy, they will do the same. If you message your team at all hours of the day and night, they will feel inclined to do the same. Don’t put this pressure on them. Set a good example and take better care of your mental health in order for them to do the same.
*Interested in more career tips and tricks? Check out the 16th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here.