Managing Employee Mental Health and Well-Being as a Leader
05/28/20 by Motion Recruitment
Did you know? 1 in every 5 people will experience a mental health illness in their lifetime, according to Mental Health America’s 2019 Mind the Workplace Report. Now more than ever, teams are looking to their leaders to cultivate and embrace a workplace culture that prioritizes employee mental health – especially in a crisis like today’s. In a recent study conducted by SHRM, 26% of employees reported feeling depressed during COVID19.
However, there are easy ways to combat recent challenges if you are managing a team through the uncertain times. Research shows a high correlation between open communication and overall wellness of work environments. As a leader, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel or completely transform your current strategy.
We interviewed our Executive VP of HR, Amy Ackroyd, on what's most important to focus on during this time. Alongside your company’s employee mental health resources, here are five key strategies we're using at Motion Recruitment to help support our employees in maintaining their health and wellness, all of which you can implement right away.
Create Space to Talk
Less than 1 in 3 employees feel like their leaders communicate efficiently, and many employees simply need a safe outlet to communicate. Make a point to schedule one-on-one chats over the phone or video regularly with each member of your team. Group communication is also key. Start sharing tips, info and support via internal social channels around mental health for employees, or even informal weekly morning coffee chats. To strike a good balance between work and personal topics, host executive office hours that your employees can sign up for if they need more one-on-one time. Motion has started holding weekly executive office hours, where anyone can get time with our CEO, President, VPs and Head of HR.
Don't forget, this should be a two-way street. Encourage feedback, ask how employees are doing, and most importantly, always keep the lines of communication open and authentic.
There are many ways to replace pre-Covid-19 happy hours with virtual team bonding activities or games that are just as fun and engaging. Host a themed game night, virtual happy hour, trivia, cooking competition or even a costume contest! Stumped on where to start? Check out this list of 52 virtual team bonding activities aimed at boosting employee morale and mental health.
A few of our favorites at Motion? Virtual baby showers, a “Chopped” online contest and a real-life photo hunt competition.
Encourage Activity & Wellness
Did you know something as little as a 30-second break can increase productivity by 13%? Make sure your team takes the time you need - and most of us need more than half a minute - in order to focus on well-being daily as a tool to thrive. Share employee wellness resources for healthy habits, like free workout apps, meditation opportunities and meal suggestions to help support a balanced lifestyle. Lead the way by providing opportunities to take active breaks while keeping your team energized and productive, such as getting outdoors when possible. Have weekly team meetings that aren't on video? Schedule team “walking calls”. Have a fitness guru on your team? Offer them the opportunity to teach a virtual Yoga or Pilates class to the group. Most importantly, everyone takes a break differently; while some activities might be optional, be clear that however your team chooses to, it’s fine to take a break for well-being as an employee and individual.
At Motion, we did a company-wide campaign where we shared how we took a break from our day-to-day to emphasize self-care and healthy activities that lead to better overall wellness. How do you #takeyourbreak? Click here to see how our CEO Beth Gilfeather takes hers.
Focus on Family
While 80% of employees working from home say they enjoy being able to see their family during the day, the current remote lifestyle makes it easy for family life to blend into work projects. We can all relate to seeing kids in the background of conference calls, pets making a cameo appearance in stand-ups, schedules having to adjust for home-school programming and an overall new outlook on the concept of work life balance. Rather than fighting those realities, embrace them. Invite employees to bring their kids to meetings, meet the pets virtually and even send resources to fellow parents with young children to help them engage and understand projects their parents are currently working on. We’re all in this together, and families play a huge role in the health and well-being of every employee. Besides, as we've found at Motion recently, there's nothing like a Meet the Pets evening to raise your spirits or having your two-year old help you run the daily morning meeting to help you appreciate the family around you.
Last but certainly not least, give credit where credit is due. Highlighting exceptional performances and milestones in front of the entire team not only makes that individual employee feel appreciated but will ignite motivation and a healthy dose of competition throughout your team members. There are many different ways you can recognize an employee virtually. Choose the method you think would make the most sense for your team and business. Remember to be consistent and continue to recognize milestones virtually that you normally would in-person, like work anniversaries and birthdays! These small efforts will go a long way. 90% of workers say after receiving employee recognition, they’re motivated to work harder. At Motion, our President started hosting "Dinner for 5" every two weeks, honoring an exclusive set of individuals whose performance stood out, and our company-wide email chains of success stories have never been busier.
Whatever tactics you choose to implement, it’s important to be empathetic and cognizant of the challenges your team is facing. Even in a pandemic or other crisis, being a people-first culture for your employees will lead to more engaged employees. As Richard Branson said, “Take Care Of Your Employees And They'll Take Care Of Your Business.” We are all facing these unexpected and challenging times together. A positive workplace environment depends on the health and wellness of each individual employee, and that starts with every leader helping provide the necessary tools to thrive.