Mental Health & Wellness in the Workplace. What Should Employers Do To Support Their Biggest Assets?
It’s no surprise that we all are feeling the stresses and anxieties of today’s world. According to a study done by Angus Reid in 2020, 50% of Canadians report a worsening of their mental health, and one in ten overall saying it has worsened “a lot”.
Now more than ever, we’re seeing open conversations take place about mental health and well-being in the news, in social media campaigns, and between family and friends. A new social norm is being created to open up about our feelings and struggles, which allows for healing and hopefully leads to more resources to seek help from.
So how does this fit into workplace culture? What role should employers have in their employees' mental health and well-being?
I had a conversation with Rhys Green and Jerry Gratton from Trailblaze Partners, a management consulting company, to discuss the benefits of creating a workplace that encourages a safe space for open dialogue and how to build an effective company culture that takes mental health and well-being into consideration.
How does a business go about ensuring employee’s mental health and well-being is being addressed or taken into consideration? What kind of resources or programs can a workplace implement?
Rhys: There are a lot of options in terms of programs, from health benefits to wellness challenges. However, I think ultimately it comes down to the role of their direct manager to stay in tune with the team members' stress levels and to build a strong trusting relationship that encourages their team to ask for help and speak up if the job pressures are contributing to an unhealthy mental health situation.
I think at minimum employers should have a designated counselor that they can refer employees to, should it become clear they need some support.
Jerry: It’s important to note that caring for our employees’ mental health and supporting or advising them are two very different things. Provide as much support as you can, listening being the most important, and leave the advising to the professionals.
If you notice an employee is acting out of character or is visibly not as happy as usual and it’s affecting their work, how should managers or team leaders approach the situation?
Rhys: There is a fine line between being supportive and prying. I think taking them for a coffee to a quiet place with some privacy and asking how they are is a good first step. The effectiveness will be dictated by how strong a relationship the manager has built previously though.
Jerry: Making a meaningful "check-in" as part of your one-to-one weekly meetings. Simply asking “how are you?” and actually caring and listening to their response. If you notice different behaviour, you can say "I noticed you were quiet...” or “if there is anything you want to talk about, I'm here to listen", to let the person know they have that opportunity to open up if they choose to.
After a year like 2020, do you think there should be an open dialogue with employees about mental health and common feelings of anxiety? Should a business provide resources and a safe space to talk openly?
Rhys: One hundred percent there should. 2020 was a tough year for everyone in one way or another, but every year is a tough year for someone. I think hosting a learning session about stress and workplace mental health is a great way to open up this conversation. It helps to normalise the challenges many of us face.
Jerry: I agree one hundred percent. The best companies make caring about mental health and providing support and resources part of the culture. You could include monthly ‘Wellness Wednesdays’ with different topics, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) availability, lunch and learns, etc. Don’t hold just one event but have repeated, periodic opportunities for your employees.
With a lot of us working from home and missing that human connection, what can be done to build a community online (other than the usual daily work calls)? Are there team and relationship building exercises that can be done online?
Rhys: There are a lot of team building exercises that carry over really well onto a video call and the breakout groups function can work really well in zoom. I like anything that gives people a chance to have some fun. Even a silly ice breaker like Two Truths and a Lie at the beginning of a team meeting can help to improve social bonds.
Jerry: It's really important to give employees permission to have non-work time with colleagues on work time. Employees are generally working longer hours in our WFH environment, and often all the time they spend interacting with colleagues is work-based. But we know that that’s not what work is all about. Some best practices are to encourage employees to book "no shop talk" times with colleagues or to implement virtual water cooler apps like Donut.
In my experience, most workplaces did not have much leniency towards taking time off for mental health. It can become a situation where the workplace keeps asking when you may return and that results in pressure to get back to work as soon as possible, even if you aren’t ready, leading to more anxiety.
Is it important to support your employees through the hard times and have contingency plans in place in case of these situations, to cover their workload? How can you make that employee feel comfortable when returning back to work?
Rhys: I would always lean toward the side of giving a team member the time they need. I think we, as people (not just business people and employees), have a responsibility to support each other through tough times as best we can.
Jerry: Treat mental health the same way as physical health. If an employee has a heart attack and is off work for a month, most employers are understanding and figure it out. Treat mental health (diagnosed and being treated) the same way. Also, in most jurisdictions, organizations have a "duty to accommodate" a return to work that may be phased or with a lighter work load after a leave.
Why should employers be so concerned with the mental health and wellness of their employees? How does it benefit and directly impact their business?
Rhys: I believe it's the right thing to do for a couple of reasons. First and foremost our work situation has a significant impact on the quality of our mental health. As employers we have a responsibility making the parts of this that are within our control healthy and positive. Secondly, investing in high-impact areas to better support employees can boost ROI. Deloitte makes a strong case for the ROI for workplace mental health programs in this report here.
Jerry: Our people are our greatest asset, so it’s not much of a leap to believe that we must care for that asset for the company to be healthy, productive and profitable. Investing in the wellness (mental and physical) of our employees is like investing in the maintenance of company equipment, vehicles or technology. It's funny how some companies have no issue spending on the latter but fail to see the need to spend on the former. –
It is well known that having a happy and healthy culture leads to better employee performance, a good public image for your company, happier customers and higher revenue. Yet, in my experience, I haven’t been a part of many work environments where mental health has been discussed openly with employees. Isn’t it time we make this common place across all industries?
Do you think more can be done in your workplace? What can you do on your own level to create that supportive space for those you work with?
Follow Office Break News on LinkedIn
Become a part of our community!
To advertise your brand on Office Break News, contact us at email@example.com
Business Survey Results Are In! Building Customer Trust and Experience is Key to Profitability in 2021
February 17, 2021, Halifax, N.S. - Success Through Trust, a business on a mission to help business owners and leaders build trust with their customers, is announcing key findings from its ‘Blueprint for 2021: Business Outlook’ a report that identifies key business priorities that will help privately held and family run businesses succeed in 2021.
The survey revealed a number of strategies likely to be adopted to achieve profitability in 2021. They include reducing costs (61%), investing in the customer experience (60%), identifying new business opportunities (57%), launching new sales and distribution strategies (51%) and investing in training to strengthen relationships of trust with customers (47%).
Survey sponsor, and President, Success Through Trust, Natalie Doyle Oldfield, said, “Ninety four percent of all survey respondents said customer trust is extremely important in this business environment. Yet, 58 per cent do not have a clear idea of what steps to take to achieve this.” “In 2021, businesses need to operationalize trust in the customer experience. It is not the time to wait, retrench or cut back. Companies that balance online interaction with personal interaction will win in 2021,” said Doyle Oldfield.
There are a number of companies that stand out as customer focused trust leaders. Kohltech Windows and Entrance Systems (Kohltech), one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies is one them.
Kohltech works with Success Through Trust to build and measure customer trust and improve customer experiences. CEO Kevin Pelley, said, “It is important to us that everyone at Kohltech be focused on providing extraordinary customer experiences and have strong customer relationships. Natalie Doyle Oldfield has helped us to understand our customers better and build our business. We worked with her to develop a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and to train our team to consistently build trust and deliver extraordinary experiences. This training was invaluable when COVID-19 hit. We immediately reached out to customers to listen to their challenges and as a result we gained an understanding of their needs and were able to pivot and create a new tempered safety glass barrier for them called, Kohltech Shield.
This allowed them to have safe interactions with their customers. In 2021, finding ways to build trust when you can’t always meet in person continues to be a priority for us.”
Success Through Trust has designed an evidence-based framework including the Trust Building Model to help companies operationalize trust across their business. To download the Blueprint for 2021: Business Outlook visit: Success Through Trust.
This survey was conducted online between January 3 and January 22, 2021 with 172 business owners and leaders across North America. Seventy one percent of the respondents were business owners and leaders, the other respondents included managers, front line and customer facing people. Seventy-three per cent of the respondents were Canadian and include responses from every single province; 19% from 15 states in the USA and 8% were from Europe, Africa and Asia.
About Success Through Trust Inc.
Success Through Trust works with business owners and leaders to build relationships of trust to improve customer experiences and grow revenue through a proprietary framework. It’s President, Natalie Doyle Oldfield, is the author of The Power of Trust: How Top Companies Build, Manage and Protect It. After being named one of the world's Top Thought Leaders in Trust for 5 years in a row, in 2021 Natalie has been recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Trust Across America—Trust Around the World. Established in 2013, Success Through Trust is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Follow Office Break News on LinkedIn
Become a part of our community!
Read More Articles
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is widely acknowledged as more important than IQ in achieving success. Fortunately, EQ skills can be developed, honed and practiced over time.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is one of today’s hottest buzzwords. Now recognized by many as more important than intelligence (IQ) in achieving success in work and in life, EQ shows up in many corporate dialogues as something to focus on.
“Business leaders are no longer being defined by their IQs or even their technical skills. It is their emotional intelligence that makes the difference. It is rarely for the lack of smarts or vision. Most unsuccessful leaders stumble because of one simple, fatal shortcoming. The failure is one of emotional strength.” - Forbes Magazine.
While many people talk about EQ, it remains a somewhat intangible concept for most. There are also many self-proclaimed EQ “experts” who aren’t certified as EQ coaches or assessors, further muddying the waters. So let’s set the record straight on EQ – what it is, why it’s important, and how to develop EQ skills for success.
What is EQ?
EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is a set of emotional and social skills that collectively establish how well we:
· Perceive and express ourselves
· Express our thoughts
· Develop and maintain social relationships
· Cope with challenges
· Use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way
I like to look at it as “how you show up” to others – in the workplace and in life.
Why is EQ so important?
With a strong EQ, individuals tend to make better life choices, have better interpersonal relationships, are more successful at work, and make exceptional business owners and leaders. What’s more, businesses that make EQ skill development a part of their organizational culture see greater productivity, improved morale, better results and reduced turnover.
Why? To answer this question, we can look at the four basic principles of EQ.
1) Self-Awareness. When individuals are self-aware, they know what creates an emotional response and can manage situations accordingly.
2) Self-management. Knowing what to do in order to control emotions, and how to use emotions in a productive way, can ensure emotions are used in a positive, constructive way.
3) Empathy. The ability to put oneself in other people’s shoes is a vital skill, particularly for those in a leadership capacity.
4) Ability to build relationships. Understanding how to help others manage emotions – and how to use emotional awareness to navigate, build and maintain positive relationships – is an EQ skill that can transform good leaders into great ones.
Knowing and understanding one's own emotions and recognizing how to use them for positive impact allows individuals to make good choices and create a collaborative, supportive work environment. By developing skills in empathy and emotional awareness, they are equipped to lead with compassion and purpose, and can build teams based on mutual respect and cooperation.
Developing EQ skills for success
Like with most things in life, knowing where you stand helps you determine how to move forward. The same applies to EQ – and this is where the EQ-i 2.0 assessment comes in.
The Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i 2.0) is the world’s leading assessment tool used for assessing emotional and social intelligence. A self-rating tool, it offers an excellent way to understand current emotional competencies. It also provides a picture of how an individual operates emotionally and outlines areas of strength and development based on responses to 133 questions. Scientifically validated, the assessment provides a reliable measure of self-perceived emotional intelligence.
Unlike IQ – which tends to remain relatively static throughout ones life – EQ can always be developed and refined. Through the consistent practice of EQ skills, anyone can develop the ability to use, understand and manage emotions in a positive, constructive way.
As a certified EQ coach, I debrief and coach EQ assessments to help individuals understand their EQ potential and opportunities. Trained by Multi-Health Systems (MHS), I use their tools to identify and assess strengths and opportunities. Plus, as a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, I also provide coaching to cultivate the EQ skills that need development and offer insights to practice the skills that are already strong. Through the assessment and coaching, I can help your leaders learn, polish and use the EQ skills that will take them to the next level of competence and accountability.
Follow Office Break News on LinkedIn!
Become a part of our community!
More To Read
How often do you hear “happy employees mean better productivity”? I am betting we have all heard it
at one time in our working lives. And if asked, I am sure we all believe that to be true. I mean, there is
nothing more important to a business than its employees………right?
Then why are so many managers left scratching their heads wondering how to truly make their
employees happy? And why are there still some skeptics around insisting it is not up to them to make
their folks happy?
Simply put – somewhere over the last many, many years we have been led to believe that foosball, ping
pong and on-site yoga instructors were are only option. You do not need grand (and often empty)
gestures to engage employees. Implementing smaller (and more impactful) changes can drastically
increase the employee experience creating much happier – and more productive – people.
Here are a small, but impactful tips to get you started:
Efficiency. One thing I hear often is that many employers want their folks to work efficiently, tasking
them to find ways to change how they work to make things better. Remember though, as leaders we
must be open to looking at how WE work and how our employees interact within our systems and
Why not ask:
Is there a better way of doing things? Do our systems enhance how our employees’ function? Do our
people have proper functioning tools and equipment? Do they have enough of what they need to get
the job done? By automating a task have we decreased or increased the amount of effort required to
get it done?
Clear Direction. A common problem facing managers, supervisors and employees alike is not always
understanding what is expected from them. Or worse yet – not knowing at all. By offering clear
direction, complimented by realistic goals and well-defined job expectations, organizations can
eliminate poor communication leading to poor performance. Employees have clear focus and managers
can easily identify performance issues before they become a problem. You would be surprised how
often this is an underlying problem in many cases of dissatisfied employees.
Appreciation. Inspire employees to work toward success and cultivate a sense of fulfilment by simply
acknowledging and appreciating them and all they do. Tell employees when they have done a good job
or when they have gone above and beyond to solve a problem. Recognize their efforts and provide
feedback (constructively) so they can grow and learn. Sure, you can offer tangible rewards, but never
underestimate the power of a single “Thank you” or “We appreciate you”. Letting employees know how
much they are appreciated, valued, and respected goes a long way. The gift card is nice but showing
someone, you really see them is much more valuable.
And last but certainly not least - if you want to know what would make your people happy……..just ask
them! Start a dialogue and see what small ……but impactful…….changes you can make today.
Follow Office Break News on LinkedIn!