Put Your Employees’ Mental Health First With These 4 Creative Strategies
It’s no secret that the majority of young adults struggle with mental health. In fact, the millennial and gen z crowds are labeled as the most anxious generation of workers ever to exist! While we all show up to work with a bright smile on our faces, ready to tackle the day, we mask behind what we actually feel. We still face the daily challenges of anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses that affect our performance. Your employees’ mental health is what brings light to all that you do — so taking care of them always needs to be a priority. Even if your employees don’t outwardly appear to be struggling, that is often NOT the case. About 1 in 5 adults report suffering from any form of mental illness. Depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance by about 35% of the time.
If your organization has not yet implemented pro-mental health initiatives yet, it’s time to act. Start by providing your employees with wellness stipends or allowing them to take mental breaks throughout the workday. There is a never-ending list of things you can do to make your employees feel good AND boost their overall productivity and performance. I’ll hit four of my favorites that we use at the Branch.
1. LET YOUR EMPLOYEES TAKE A BREAK
Studies show that breaking for just five minutes per day boosts mental wellbeing and productivity. It’s SO easy to get carried away in the work that you’re producing and completely lose track of time. Suddenly, hours have passed, and you’ve somehow forgotten about how hungry you are, or the fact that you’ve had to use the restroom for hours. It goes to show that it’s time to step away from the computer screen for a minute and regain your energy.
From the day I was hired until now, I have been encouraged by the team to take advantage of the time allotted for taking breaks every single day. At RBM, we’re told to take one 20 minute break per day. That could mean taking a walk (if our Midwestern weather oh so pleases), playing an aggressive speed round of ping pong, or driving over to the local gas station for a quick pick-me-up snack. Not only does power-breaking allow you to clear your mind and recharge, but it also is linked to relieving stress and anxiety.
Quick breaks include little to no costs, boost employee productivity, and overall support their mental wellbeing.
2. STOCK UP ON BRAIN FOOD
Yes, millennials and Gen-Z peeps love free food. And, as much as your employees would love for you to provide them with unlimited charcuterie boards and white claws, that’s not what I mean. Instead, promote your employees’ health by offering HEALTHY snacks that get the juices flowing and keep them awake. Some of our team’s favorite re-charging snacks are granola bars, fruit, and, of course, coffee (can never have too much). While these are always on deck, we occasionally get sandwiches catered from our friends at Jimmy Johns. They know us pretty well.
Buying healthy, yet tasty snacks in bulk at your local Costco goes along way in your employees’ productivity, mental and physical health, and their overall morale.
3. PARTICIPATE IN MONTHLY / QUARTERLY MENTAL HEALTH WORKSHOPS
Whether it’s Mindfulness Monday or Wellness Wednesday, dedicate at least one day a month to focusing on the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees. While you probably only have an hour or two out of your busy workday to spare, consider implementing full-day workshops once per quarter. Here’s a list of engaging, educational activities to host in your office:
- Bring in a Pro: Allowing a psychology professor or clinical health professional to take the floor is a fantastic way to keep your employees informed about pro-mental health initiatives.
- Guided Meditation: Once you break through the giggles, this is an extremely effective method of clearing your head during a stressful time. Apps like Headspace are great to use!
- Workout Classes: Have an employee or fitness instructor lead a 30 minute to one hour class. This is a great way to blow off some steam and clear your head amidst a busy day!
- Outdoor Team Building: Take the time to breathe in the fresh air when you have the opportunity. If your office is located near a park, play a round or two of kickball or lead a scavenger hunt. These can be brought indoors as well so long as you have space!
4. HOST WELLNESS CHALLENGES
Not only do these bring a little bit of friendly competition to your office, but they also encourage healthy behaviors! Your employees will love these weekly or monthly contest ideas (especially if you incentivize them with some cool prizes):
- Step Challenge: Using the savvy tech of your choosing, have employees track their number of steps. The person with the most by the end of the week or month is the winner!
- Tastiest Healthy Meal: At the end of the month, have a healthy meal cookoff. Appoint a couple of judges, and let their tastebuds serve as the true test! Make sure employees bring the recipe to share with the rest of the team.
- The Seven Hours Challenge: Studies show that adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Use a smartphone app or smartwatch tracker to determine who gets the most rest on average.
- Gratitude Challenge: According to a Harvard Medical School study, practicing gratitude boosts happiness. For a month straight, have your employees write down why they’re grateful. While there’s no single winner for this activity, it’ll have all of your employees feeling like champs!
Implementing quick and exciting activities with little to no cost involved is easy. Taking care of your employees’ mental health is everything — and, you don’t need to be a professional to make a difference. If you want to go all out with your efforts, check out these other employer resources to take advantage of.
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This article was originally published on the Red Branch Media Blog by Jen Mohorek.