It is no secret that the pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health to some degree throughout the past year.
According to a survey by the CDC, 40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety and depression, and a marked increase in substance abuse.
As a corporate wellness company focused on holistic programming, we recognize that mental health and wellbeing are inextricably linked from the overall picture of employee wellness. So, what is the relationship between the two, and what can support look like in the workplace? Read on.
Mental Health vs. Mental Wellbeing
The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.
Mental well-being, on the other hand, is bolstered by the day-to-day activities that support mental health in the grand scheme of things. It’s one of the 8 Dimensions of Wellbeing and something that employees were saying they wanted their employers to care about even prior to the pandemic.
The reality is that we spend a significant portion of our lives at work, and the onus is shifting to companies and HR teams to provide support in these areas. Employees can boost their mental wellbeing by prioritizing the basics in a few key areas such as exercise, sleep, stress management and nutrition. So, how can HR/Benefits teams help?
1. Support employees with their lives.
For many decades, employees were expected to maintain a clear separation between work and personal life. But this almost unspoken rule glosses over the fact that how we show up at work is greatly impacted by what is going on in the broader context of our life.
A 2020 Gartner survey found that employers that provide holistic support to their employees saw a 20% increase in the number of employees reporting improved mental and physical health. It’s part of a bigger vision they’ve outlined termed “The New Employment Deal” (a fantastic resource for CEO’s, HR professionals, or anyone at the forefront of change within their company).
Actions like supporting hybrid, flexible working conditions and taking a genuine stand on social issues can help employees feel like their employer sees, hears, and cares about them as a unique individual living in a complex, and in many areas, inequitable society – a known stressor for many in the modern work force.
2. Implement (and talk up) programming that can positively impact mental well-being
Your company likely already has an employee assistance program – which are valuable but often underutilized. Don’t stop there!
Making holistic offerings to employees, like meditation & mindfulness, movement, etc. has been shown to positively impact employee wellbeing across the corporate landscape.
While these types of classes and webinars should not be viewed as a replacement for more tailored, therapeutic mental health interventions, they can be very effective in supporting employees’ overall sense of wellbeing and often come with less stigma than an EAP.
3. Advocate for a culture of self-care
Employee well-being programs are a non-negotiable requirement in the modern workforce –(okay, we may be a little biased!) A holistic corporate wellness program that centers the dimensions of well-being can make all the difference for employees.
If you have a program in place, but engagement has been a challenge, be sure to encourage a culture of self-care at work. For starters, provide employees with frequent reminders about what is available and encourage them to block out time on their calendar. Impress upon them the importance of scheduling self-care just as they would their meetings. You could even incentivize them through a fun challenge.
Whether it’s weekly yoga classes, a once-a-month nutrition talk or cooking demo, or a fun Zumba class as a treat — whatever inspires your unique group of employees, consistency is the key to success in building self-care habits. Such offerings can help build a sense of personal well-being, but also a sense that everyone is in it together.
4. Lead Compassionately
In the end, this is what it all comes down to – the ability of corporate leaders to feel into the experiences of their employees. Managers should use the power bestowed upon them to both advocate for and help create safe spaces for employees to be themselves at work, with whatever challenges they may be facing.
Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.
We offer many of these services online! Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.
Whether you have multiple physical locations, employees working remotely (or a hybrid of the two), or employees working across multiple shifts, our classes make a flexible, well-rounded addition to your wellness offerings. Together, we’ll help you devise a wellness strategy that is tailored to the needs of your unique employees – because self-care is now more important than ever. Contact us to get started.