How are you doing out there, Spicey people?
It’s been quite the ride in the last 18 months. Although it may feel like we are over the worst of the loop-de-loops, there’s still a way to go yet. We need to stay buckled in for a bit longer.
But it’s important to acknowledge that some of us are exhausted. The constant uncertainty, disruption and worry of the last year has taken its toll.
On top of that, the gloomy winter months are upon us, which can impact your mind set. You may feel like it is harder to be motivated and the dreary weather can even worsen feelings of depression or anxiety.
As employers and managers, it’s vital to have a handle on how your people are coping. Supporting your employees’ mental wellbeing is not just good for business; it’s part of your responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
This month, we are coming together to discuss mental wellbeing at work. We want to help empower you to take care of yourself and your people. So, let’s talk mental wellness at work.
Let’s Talk Mental Wellness at Work
Be Mindful of Change
Change is hard to navigate for most of us, and there has been a ton of it over the last year – most of it out of our control.
Bear this in mind when planning ahead in your business. Remember that people are worn out from adapting and adjusting to change. If you want to make changes in your business, try to introduce them gradually, not all at the same time.
Involve your employees in decisions where possible, and ensure you have a solid plan of how to communicate the changes to your team. Which brings us to the next point…
Prioritise Effective Communication
Stress often occurs when people don’t know what’s going to happen, and there’s been a lot of that going on lately! To help your staff fret less about the future, keep them well-informed about the present.
Be as transparent as possible, do your best to let people know what’s coming up and what they will need to do.
Make mental health a common talking point within your organisation. Discuss emotional wellbeing often and ensure all your employees are aware of the support and resources available to them.
Encourage Empathy Among Your Leaders
Empathy is a vital component of effective communication, particularly with regards to mental health. Empower your managers to be genuinely empathetic when communicating with employees. That means being a caring and effective listener while providing any support that the team needs.
Create Opportunities to Connect
Having a supportive, positive workplace culture can make all the difference for your employees. Encourage initiatives that nurture connection – something that may require more effort if some or all of your team members work remotely.
Organise real or virtual social events, set up group message boards, or use apps to keep your people connected. Check in regularly with them one-on-one to find out how they’re doing, too.
Create A Safe, Supportive Work Environment
Make your workplace a safe place for people to be, and encourage open and honest discussions around mental health.
This means zero tolerance of bullying or discrimination, creating a sense of value and purpose for employees, and actively working to improve work relationships at all levels.
Ensure there are mental health resources available for those who need them, such as employee assistance programs.
Build Awareness and Understanding
The more you learn about mental wellbeing, the better equipped you are to develop practises and techniques to keep yourself healthy and support your team.
Thankfully, the topic of mental health is being discussed more openly, and there are plenty of ways to broaden your understanding.
Jacqui Maguire is one of New Zealand’s most well-known mental health thought leaders. She’s a fantastic person to follow on social media for insight and practical tips. She also hosts a thought-provoking podcast called Mind Brew. Focused on mental health and wellbeing, this series is well worth tuning into.
Actively Support Positive Mental Wellness at Work
Make sure you walk the walk when it comes to mental wellbeing. There are loads of initiatives that you could implement to support mental health, such as:
- Flexible work policies
- Bring a pet to work days
- Group exercise opportunities/classes
- Mindfulness programs
- Healthy food options at work or work functions
- Standing desks
- Workplace massage
- Stress management education
- Encourage staff to take mental health days when needed
Make Use of Your Resources
So many fantastic, experienced organisations have put a lot of work into mental wellness, producing tons of valuable resources to browse through online.
New Zealand’s own Mental Health Foundation has created one such resource. It outlines the Five Ways to Wellbeing – a collection of actions to support people in difficult times. Here’s a summary of their advice, which can be applied to individuals, families, communities, and organisations.
Relationships and positive social interactions are vital for building a sense of connection and security.
Research has proven that kindness – to ourselves and others – can boost feelings of contentment and happiness. Sharing skills, resources, and our time with those around us can promote mental wellbeing.
Anxiety, stress and depression are often closely tied to our thoughts and worries about the future. Paying attention to the present moment and observing our thoughts and feelings can help.
Having goals for the future, working towards something positive, and embracing new experiences are all essential for us to thrive.
Physical activity is scientifically proven to reduce stress, depression and anxiety. Movement is a vital part of mental wellbeing.
We highly recommend downloading this comprehensive COVID-19 Workplaces Resources PDF from the Mental Health Foundation that discusses how to manage the challenges of COVID-19 in the workplace with a strong focus on mental wellbeing.
All Right is a website packed full of useful information, insights and tips that apply to the workplace.
Worksafe NZ is another excellent hub with a comprehensive list of resources related to stress, wellbeing, work, and the coronavirus.
And of course, we Spice Gals are ready to step in to provide any HR support that your organisation might require. So, reach out to us today if you have any queries regarding the all important topic of mental wellness at work.