As the world continues to navigate through COVID-19 and what may lie ahead, businesses across industries, large and small, are going through a crisis of their own. In addition to surviving this economic downturn, strategizing a new way of business, and reinventing themselves, businesses of all sorts have their work cut out for them. During this time, it is important that all employers and top executives remember the critical importance of having healthy and happy employees so that their company is productive, efficient, and able to thrive. As such, with a dramatic increase in mental health and substance abuse related issues around the world, it is perhaps more important than ever to support employees with regards to their mental health and general well-being. Below is a list of ways to support members of your organization, and methods that can also be applied to yourself as well.
- Replace Meetings with Self-Care
Most businesses require team meetings, but oftentimes they are inefficient and wasteful, and may have an adverse unintended effect of draining the productivity and energy of employees. Half hour meetings might only have ten minutes of real substance. The bottom line is that company meetings often end up costing the company a huge expense of wasted hours. On the flip side, when individuals engage in self-care they are more likely to be productive, energetic, and efficient. During a time where self-care is needed more than ever, management should work to reduce meeting times and encourage employees to use that time to engage in some kind of self-care routines such as going for a walk, practicing gratitude, or eating a healthy snack. Companies may also want to replace business meetings with self-care meetings, meaning that employees are practicing some sort of self-care routine as a group, which can then have a simultaneous benefit of human connection (see Team Building and Bonding below).
- Late Starts or Reduced Hours
Most people think of sleep in terms of energy, but sleep also has a significant impact on our mental health. Yes, it is true that a restful sleep will result in an individual having more energy, as well as in being more productive and efficient, but it will also help reduce stress, result in improved cognitive functioning and decision making, and also help to alleviate mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. As such, ensuring that your employees get adequate sleep will significantly improve the overall capability of your company as a whole. Starting the work-day even an hour later than usual can have a significant impact on one’s sleep, or reducing work hours – even if this is only done once or twice per week to allow individuals for a couple more weekly hours of rest.
- Connect and Practice Kindness
Human connection is a fundamental part of our mental health. Connecting with your employees not only improves areas of the working relationship, but can actually help improve your employees mental health as well. Check in with them. Have a dialogue. Ask them how they are feeling (really). Show them that you care about their well-being. It is also important that you are aware of signs and symptoms of various mental health issues and substance abuse related issues so that if you suspect issues among your employees you can take proper actions such as speaking with them about it, investigating as to what might help them, and perhaps most importantly referring them to an appropriate mental health professional.
- Team Building and Bonding
Team building and bonding can result in more cohesion among employees, and it can also result in improved mental health. Research has shown that increased social interactions result in increased happiness and reduced mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and stress. Conversely, loneliness is correlated with increased mental health issues, increased substance abuse, and higher rates of suicide and suicidality. It is important that team building and bonding exercises be done in a sober environment and not at the bar or restaurant so that employees can be present and truly connect on a more intimate level.
- Incorporate Wellness
Wellness and self-care are essential parts of good mental health, and can be associated with reduced anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Either on-site or off-site, expose your employees to wellness-based practices through a professional such as a therapist, meditation practitioner, life coach, nutritionist, fitness coach, wellness coach, or other such professional. Through educational speakers, seminars or workshops, employees can learn wellness-based activities and self-are routines that they can practice on their own and incorporate into their private lives. These may include things such as meditation, mindfulness, gratitude, breath work, stretching/yoga, positive affirmations, nutrition, fitness, sleep-hygiene, and other such wellness-based self-care activities.
- Have a Confidential Mental Health Professional
If an employee is struggling with a mental health or addiction related issue, one of the most important things they can do is talk to a mental health professional such as a psychotherapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, sober coach, or other such professional. Having such a service on-site in a private and discreet manner can help reduce the stigma around talking to such a professional. You may want to consider mandatory therapy sessions for your employees so that they are not shamed or singled out for talking to a therapist, and this would also help individuals see a therapist who might otherwise be too afraid to do so. If having one on-site is not possible, having one off-site is just as beneficial, especially if near the office. Having a list of approved mental health professionals that specialize in various issues and therapeutic approaches is also helpful, and allowing your employees to choose among them or to seek out their own professional.
Although focusing on your employees mental health may seem costly and a waste of time at its surface, the reality is that having a healthy and happy staff will make your firm more efficient, effective and productive, ultimately saving you time and money in the long run. Investing in your and your teams mental health will have a high return on investment. If you, your employees, or a loved one is currently experiencing a mental health or substance abuse related issue please seek out a mental health professional in your area. Search for a therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist in your area. For more information on therapy and mental health, or to inquire about our private concierge therapy services and/or our teletherapy services (online therapy/virtual therapy) in New York City please contact our undisclosed therapy office location in the Upper East Side of NYC today at (929) 220-2912.