Supporting Your Employees

Jan 26 / Margaret Stockley

Workplace Well-Being is Evolving

We are all dealing with a new reality, and it is different for each one of us.

For some people, it is coping with working from home while home-schooling children.

For others it is experiencing feelings of insecurity and emotional isolation due to the lack of physical interactions with family members or friends or colleagues.

And many of us know of someone and/or are experiencing what it is like to have either a reduced income, increased stress and fear about ourselves or people close to us who are particularly vulnerable of contracting the virus, and even bereavement.

The Stress in America 2020 poll conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association found that nearly 8 in 10 adults (78%) said that the coronavirus pandemic “is a significant source of stress in their lives.”

While addressing mental health has been important for many organizations over the past year, anxiety and depression is now impacting businesses and the community at rates higher than have been seen previously.

The World Health Organization states that, “…Mental health is a state of balance, both within and with the environment. Physical, psychological, social, cultural, spiritual and other interrelated factors participate in producing this balance.”

With all the data that is now emerging about mental well-being, what can you do to support your employees?

From front-line workers to employees working from home, some options for companies to drive two-way communication regarding the challenges that employees are facing includes:

  • Connecting with teams through online workshops that educate employees and team leaders on stress management and mindfulness
  • Providing mentorship and a buddy network to support openness and minimize feelings associated with uncertainty or a lack of physical social interaction
  • Educating senior management and team leaders in empathy, internal and external stressors, and providing resources to identify and alleviate stress
  • Incorporating virtual social events and games within teams, celebrating (with permission) an individual or family’s special event such as a marriage or birth, or in the case of a large organization mentioning the number of celebratory life events in company newsletters
  • Conducting surveys to allow companies to gauge how employees are feeling and then identify specific ways to support them

Workplace wellness in 2021 is evolving, with an emphasis on mental health now shifting to the top spot of employee well-being programs. For example, a January 2021 Wellable study found that 88% of employers are investing most in mental health, followed by telemedicine (87%), stress management/resilience (81%), mindfulness and meditation (69%).

What’s also interesting is that programs such as gym membership that were high on the list in 2020 have now dropped to the low 30% as attendance remains challenging.

And, it’s worth noting that COVID-19 risk intake/wellness passport programs constituted 63%.

As you surmised, that’s definitely important to follow over the coming months.

At a time when many people are feeling overwhelmed by increased restrictions, combined with the winter season and shorter days it is natural to feel overwhelmed. However, what we are going through is helping us to focus even more on what we can all do to help each one of us find balance and recognize and what drives each one of us to stay engaged, productive, and healthy.

Margaret Stockley is the CEO of the online wellness training company www.POWCERT.com and can be reached at margaret.stockley@powcert.com

She is also the author of multiple books including Transforming Workplace Wellness, (also used as part of the MSc Sustainable Management degree, University of Wisconsin curriculum) and No More Stinkin’ Thinkin’
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