The past few years – primarily post-quarantine – have really put a spotlight on mental health. People aren’t just talking about mental health in vague terms anymore; they’re stepping up and prioritizing it in their lives. And hell yeah to that!
Although individuals are putting in a lot of effort to maintain a healthy work-life balance, it sure helps a lot when workplaces are on board, too. A healthy work-life balance isn’t just a win for employees – it’s a win for companies, too. People who are in a good mindset are likely to be more focused, more productive, and less likely to bulk apply to new jobs on LinkedIn.
Happy employees, happy life
Everyone is going to have their own tactics to ensure that their mental health is in a good place, but what employers can do is encourage those tactics – and provide space and inspiration to create more healthy habits.
Maybe you’re an employer reading this and you’re like okay, great to hear, now how can I do that? Or perhaps you’re an employee that is reading this and wondering how you can ask for that space to ensure you’re protecting your health. While I’d prefer you don’t skip over any of the words I wrote, I’ll focus both on the POV and tips from an employer and an employee, so skip ahead to your relevant section if you must.
I’m an employer. How can I help?
Host check-ins/meetings that foster honest conversation
- Our Creative Team at Ample has an ongoing practice of hosting a “retro” every other week. Rather than delving into specific projects, clients, etc., we kick off the meeting with a health check-in. Attendees rate how they’re feeling on a scale of 1-10. This rather elementary start to the meeting provides a loose enough framework that people often end up sharing a lot more about their mental health and how work is affecting it. If you’re using this approach, ensure you’re paying attention to your employees’ scores week after week and understanding how you might be able to give them what they need (extra help, recommend a day off, pair them with a more senior employee, etc.).
Do what you say and say what you mean
- If you’re encouraging employees to disconnect during time off – or just to take time off in general – you need to ensure you’re doing the same. Encourage the behavior that you would like your employees to adopt, but also model it yourself. Are you taking a midday walk to clear your mind? Let your team know to remind them they can do the same.
- This is a huge strength of Ample, and it’s something that has become more important and relevant in recent years. Flexibility can mean different things for different people. For some, being able to work from home is a must for maintaining mental health (we definitely believe so here). Being able to take a meeting with their camera off can help others who may be struggling. Offering flexible hours – such as when someone isn’t feeling well or needs to hop offline to deal with something that’s going on in their lives – is another way to offer employees the space they need to handle everything that’s on their plate. They can rest or deal with what they need to and revisit their tasks when they hop back online.
Encourage open & fun communication
- Create spaces for employees to connect and have fun. This can be in the form of virtual social events or happy hours. It can also be Slack channels dedicated to fun topics like music recs, discussing articles, giving each other shoutouts, and more. Everyone wants a space to feel heard, recognized, and connected.
Remember that every employee is different
- Maintaining positive mental health at work doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s vital to the health and wellness of employees that leadership keeps that top of mind. Learn who your employees are, talk to them, and find out what can help them be the best version of themselves.
I’m an employee. What can I do?
As much as you want your leadership team to help set the tone for a healthy work life balance, you also need to put yourself in the driver’s seat. Being vocal about what you need can be challenging in a workplace, but will ultimately be crucial to your overall performance – and mental health, because duh, that’s why we’re here.
You Gotta Do You
Be honest, be communicative
- When you feel like you’re drowning or irritable or overworked or just need a minute, speak up. Let your manager know that you need that space and figure out a plan that works for both of you.
Walk it out
- Overwhelmed? Upset? Brain block? When your mood is less than optimal, take it outside and get fresh air. I feel very strongly that a 10-15 minute walk can immensely improve your mood and disposition.
- Do you have a resource (article, video, TikTok) you really like on mental health at work, or mental health in general? Share it with your team. You might be the person who starts an honest and open conversation – and in turn, you might help someone else.
- It may seem silly to remind grown adults of their right to use the word “no” but how often do you allow yourself that word in a work environment? If you’re not in the right headspace to handle a meeting or a full day of work, revisit bullet #1 and communicate with your team and tell them what you are not going to be doing that day.
Dozens of these types of blog posts exist, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of championing mental health – especially at work. The biggest takeaway, IMO, is to communicate often, honestly, and without judgment.
Take care of yourself, friends.