Research shows that Americans are facing a mental health crisis. At gThankYou, mental health wellness is close to our hearts. We hope to help organizations make strides in sustaining a safe, welcoming environment. It will be noticed and appreciated.
The Olympics has highlighted how pervasive mental health challenges are when even elite athletes are not immune. Michael Phelps reminds us in a recent article in support of Simone Biles that “…If we’re not taking care of both [physical and mental health], how are we ever expecting to be 100%?” True for all of us, not just the elite few.
As leaders of organizations, we need to understand the poor state of our country’s mental health at this time. Then we can offer ways to help. It’s that simple. Every employee experienced some level of uncertainty and fear that surrounded the pandemic. Current mental health struggles are often related to loss, isolation, or hopelessness. But we CAN collectively address these issues.
If workplace well-being isn’t on your priority list, now’s the time to put it on the top. Worksite wellness initiatives have been gathering steam for quite a while, but the pandemic wreaked havoc on health in a wide variety of ways. To truly appreciate your team members, be sure to provide a healthy environment where the whole being can thrive.
According to a recent report by Gallup,
“Organizations are responsible for the wellbeing of their employees — alleviating burnout is the right thing to do. And, it is essential for engaging and retaining top talent.”
Burnout is real. And it’s costly. Intelligent leaders are in-tune with the signs are offer ways to address the problem.
An article from SHRM states, “Unsurprisingly, employee burnout levels in 2020—the year of the pandemic—were high, with one major shift from previous years: Fully remote workers are now experiencing more burnout than onsite workers. Before the pandemic, the perks of working remotely—either part- or full-time—led to lower levels of burnout compared with employees who were onsite all the time.
“Burnout has effects on the micro and macro levels. If employees’ well-being suffers, they may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. They may also become less productive and unfocused.”
Workplace well-being is THE priority to keep — if you want to keep employees.
Want to keep your employees during what’s being called by NPR and others as “The Great Resignation”? Not only is workplace well-being a driver of employee happiness and productivity, it helps employees cope with the effects of burnout. In addition, bedrocks of workplace well-being like fitness, healthy eating and financial literacy actively repel the stressors that cause burnout.
As we emerge from the challenging pandemic to some sense of normalcy at both work and in our personal lives, it’s an ideal time to check in on how we are speaking to ourselves. Many of us had extra time alone with ourselves during the pandemic and while some people seemed to flourish, many of us struggled with added loneliness, stress, grief, and anxiety. Often our own internal voice during this time was our toughest critic and harshest judge. The transition back to an office or to a job can be rough right now.
There is no better time to show ourselves some compassion and grace.
The Language of Affirmation
Affirmations are based in a belief that the frequent use of positive words (affirmations) can motivate, build self-esteem and replace negative thought patterns.
If affirming self-talk doesn’t come naturally to you, we thought we’d share some quotes from Tess Hayes’ book “May You Shine: Love Letters to the Hurting, Healing, and Growing Heart.” In her intro Hayes describes the intent of her book, “May this book remind you of just how special you are, how wildly capable you are of letting your light shine.”
If you’re feeling like your light has been dimmed during the pandemic, you’re not alone. A CDC study found worsening anxiety and depression, especially for young adults, during the pandemic, so it’s no surprise that you could benefit from some positive affirmations.
Hayes shares this wisdom:
“Bathe yourself in self-compassion. Shower yourself in grace…Remind yourself that you are not alone in this journey, that you have never messed up too badly to begin anew.”
After or during a particularly challenging day at work this gentle message from Hayes might be helpful:
“It’s so easy to be hyper-aware of the annoying or difficult parts of your day. It’s even easier to gloss right over the incredible things happening all around you. But there is always a reason to celebrate — if you only look for it.”
Those celebrations can come in all sizes:
* Celebrate getting through the transition from remote work back to your office space
* Celebrate not procrastinating
* Celebrate knowing you lightened a coworker’s load
* Celebrate opting for a healthy snack during that afternoon energy lull
* Celebrate finally getting a good night’s sleep
* Celebrate speaking up in a meeting when you typically wouldn’t have
Want more? Listen to podcast interviews with Tess!
Self-Compassion is for Everyone
Speaking of self-compassion, if you’ve read our blog posts or referred to our 2022 Day-to-Day Employee Appreciation Calendar, you know we are fans of Dr. Kristen Neff, whose research and guidance on self-compassion, is both inspiring and practical. A good introduction to Dr. Neff is her website. Neff has a new book, “Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindess to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive,” out June 15th and we are always eager to learn more from her expertise.
McKinsey & Company’s Author Talks recently featured an interview with Neff in which she discusses how “women can balance tender self-acceptance with fierce action to claim their power—in the workplace and beyond.”
This quote from Neff sums things up perfectly,
“With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.” Try being a better friend to yourself!
We are also fans of Barb Schmidt. We first discovered her gentle yet thought provoking posts on her aptly named Instagram account @peaceful_barb. She is the co-founder of Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life (another good Instagram account to follow). Her frequent messages are an excellent reminder to be kind to ourselves – complete with strategies and quick tips that always seem reasonable and do-able. In fact, we’ve clicked play on their tips on ways to say no without actually saying no several times. Her book, “The Practice” is a fast read and is full of helpful insights to help you, as the book cover suggests, manage stress, find inner peace and uncover happiness.
Schmidt wrote this about affirmations in her book,
“With all the negative chatter going on in the mind, sometimes an affirmation is exactly what is needed to get the mind to change course. In order to calm down, the mind might want that added verbal assurance that everything really is fine.” She shared her affirmation for stressful situations: “Barb, you are strong and capable; all is well.”
Next time you catch your internal voice and thoughts being especially critical, demeaning, unforgiving or sarcastic, take a deep breath and without scolding yourself for thinking that way, move on to a more gracious and kinder manner of self-talk. You wouldn’t talk to a colleague, friend or loved one that way so try to get out of the habit of speaking to yourself like that.
Affirm your worth, celebrate your resiliency and remind yourself of all of the amazing things you have to offer this world — in both your work and personal life.
Share Your Kindness with Peers
We are all in this transition together. As we ease back into the workplace, be intentional with your kindness and compassion with staff and peers. Don’t expect everything to be the same overnight. Fact is, it won’t ever be the same. Together, though, we can work to make it better. Download our Calendar Guide to celebrating employees year-round for inspiration on how to re-start.
Workplace Burnout Has Worsened During Pandemic
NPR’s Life Kit recently addressed the growing problem of workplace burnout. They shared results from a survey supported by Harvard Business Review from the fall of 2020 which indicated that burnout is a global problem (respondents were from 46 countries) that has gotten worse during the pandemic.
Here are some statistics:
- 89% of respondents said work life was getting worse.
- 85% said well-being had declined.
- 56% said demands had increased.
- 62% of those struggling to manage their workloads experienced burnout “often” or “extremely often” in previous three months.
- 57% of employees felt that pandemic had a “large effect on” or “completely dominated” their work.
First responders were always at the frontlines, heroically confronting risks to their own safety and well being. High stress and trauma were already part of their realities. But the COVID-19 pandemic has exponentially increased that risk, stress and trauma. Employers of first responders are thinking of ways to better support and appreciate first responders and how changes to the workplace might help.
Right now public outpourings showing appreciation of the tremendously important and brave work of first responders has become more commonplace, but it’s important not to let those expressions of thanks and gratitude waiver as our country cautiously begins to open back up again after being on lockdown.
Keep in mind that first responders will be grappling with the trauma of what they have been called on to cope with during this pandemic for a very long time. This impact on their mental health and feelings about their jobs will likely be profoundly felt and long lasting.
Looking back at the corporate wellness programs of our grandparents gives us an appreciation for how far we’ve come — and what the future holds.
The corporate wellness programs of yore were crude efforts that often chased the wrong goals, according to the Limeade ebook “The Evolution of Corporate Wellness.” Yet what we know now is only possible through these early experiments in corporate wellness.
As corporate wellness moves into the “Wellness 2.0” generation, it’s clear that the initiatives most companies undertake now are “just scratching the surface” of possibilities, as the Limeade ebook puts it.
So how did we get here? And what exactly is “Wellness 2.0”?
Read on for a brief history of corporate wellness, and the lessons we’ve learned along the way that have brought us to where we are today.
April 7 is World Health Day. It’s a great time to mobilize your employees around a cause and remind them of the importance of workplace wellness! We commemorate World Health Day on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) founding anniversary. Each year, WHO focuses on a specific health issue with worldwide implications.
In 2016, the theme was Beat Diabetes. Did you know?
- “About 350 million people worldwide have diabetes, a number likely to more than double in the next 20 years.”
- “In 2012, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths. More than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.”
- “Type 2 accounts for around 90% of all diabetes worldwide. Reports of type 2 diabetes in children have increased worldwide”
Diabetes is increasingly prevalent worldwide and harms families, businesses, and communities. Luckily, it’s preventable and treatable, and your company can help get the word out! WHO offers free materials such as free posters and useful fact sheets to help publicize the issue and even suggests ways to get involved with different audiences.
World Health Day is a perfect opportunity to re-focus supporting wellness in your workplace, partnering with local organizations and building community engagement against a common cause.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of celebrating World Health Day and how to celebrate it with your employees!
Workplace wellness programs lead to healthier, happier, more engaged and more productive employees. And that’s good for your business.
Summer is just the time to jumpstart your workplace wellness programs, since the season’s bounty provides plenty of opportunities to spark your employees’ enthusiasm. Companies nationwide are kicking off summer wellness programs, including Dean Health Plan, which last month launched its “Summer of Wellness” program.
During the program’s first week, Dean held activities including a healthy grilling demonstration, daily wellness walks, and an orientation for its Couch-to-5K training program. All were part of a community-wide Worksite Wellness Week in the Madison, Wis. region. Businesses and organizations across the region participated, led by the area’s Madison Region Economic Partnership.
There are plenty of ways you can foster workplace wellness this summer, and the Greatist health and fitness team lists examples in “The 44 Healthiest Companies to Work For in America”. Read on to see some of our favorites!
It’s cold, it’s cloudy and the sparkle of the holidays is long gone. How can you help your employees beat the winter workplace blahs?
Up to 20 percent of Americans suffer from mild symptoms associated with the winter blues, according to Duke Today writer April Dudash. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a more intense version of depression that occurs during the winter months. About 11 million Americans suffer from SAD.
Even a mild case of the “blahs” can wreck havoc in a workplace. Employees drag in late feeling glum, disengaged and low on energy.
Emotions are contagious (and can even be passed on via smell!), so one person’s winter blahs can quickly become everyone’s blahs. When that happens, productivity, customer relations and employee health suffer.
Self-care is especially important for company leaders during this time, since their behavior, mood and energy levels set the tone for the organization as a whole.
Escape is our natural impulse when the blahs hit — maybe to a daydream about a tropical beach! — but in fact, engaging with our emotions, our work and each other is the better way to keep the blahs at bay. Engaging keeps a workplace resilient!
Help your organization be resilient to the winter workplace blahs by incorporating the following ideas into your employee wellness program.
7 Ideas For Surviving The Winter Workplace Blahs