Written By: Andrea Terrien, WELL Faculty, WELL AP, WELL Movement Concept Advisor, WELL Performance Testing Agent, LEED Green Associate
As the Director of Health and Wellness at Catalyst Partners, I am always looking for opportunities to encourage our employees to improve their wellbeing. I recently read a Forbes article stating that 69% of employees say their manager has more impact on their mental health than their doctor or therapist, and as much impact as their partner. I thought that was so powerful. In the same study, The Workforce Institute at UKG reported that 81% of employees worldwide would prioritize good mental health over a high-paying job, and 60% of employees worldwide say their job is the biggest factor influencing their mental health. These statistics capture the significant opportunity we have as employers to positively impact our employees’ mental health. The article was shared with me by Keith Winn, our Founder and President Emeritus. This type of constant conversation is a perfect example of the culture of support and holistic wellness that he has created at Catalyst Partners over the past 21 years, and the encouraging example he has set for our current and future leaders. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I would like to share some practices that I have found impactful & important:
- Provide a positive work environment. Set clear expectations, develop ways for everyone to hold each other accountable, give positive feedback and be open to feedback, recognize accomplishments, keep communication open and consistent, listen to understand and be empathetic, and build a culture of teamwork and support. This helps to create a work environment where everyone feels like they are on the same team. Brené Brown’s book “Dare to Lead” is a great resource for understanding and implementing this kind of communication.
- Reduce the stigma around mental health. Mental health is health. By treating it the same as other health concerns employers help to reduce the stigma around mental health, for example, providing the opportunity for medical leave and PTO to address mental health issues. In addition, educating employees about mental health and how to seek help is another great way to reduce the stigma.
- Offer mental health resources and education. Provide access to health insurance that offers mental health support; including counseling, an Employee Assistance Program, and educational resources on topics related to stress and mental health.
- Encourage work-life balance. Flexible work arrangements, including part-time, flexible hours, remote work opportunities, and clear expectations of time required to complete work tasks, allows employees the flexibility to manage their work and personal lives, which can lead to reduced stress. In addition, leaders who set a healthy example of work-life balance encourage other employees to follow suit.
- Promote a culture of health. An example of this is utilizing a wellness program to provide opportunities for employees to engage in activities or competitions that help them be healthier versions of themselves through challenges and incentives.
- Lead by example. Take time off. Take diligent care of your own mental health.
- Pursue a Healthy Building Certification. WELL Certification, the WELL Equity Rating, or the WELL Health Safety Rating developed by the International WELL Building Institute (IWB), include many features related to supporting the mental health of employees.
At Catalyst Partners, we are committed to supporting the mental health of our employees in many ways. Some of them include:
- Partner with Advantage Benefits Group to educate our employees on the resources we have available to support their mental health, including an Employee Assistance Program, mental health services through our health insurance program, and educational materials on stress, life challenges, and mental health.
- Provide monthly wellness challenges focused on holistic wellness topics, such as sleep, exercise, nutrition, meditation, humor, vaccination, and fresh air.
- Start various meetings and retreats with a “mindful minute.”
- Offer company retreats for team building, strategizing, and reflecting.
- Provide an annual wellness incentive to be used to cover wellness opportunities, such as a gym membership, a fitness app, the purchase or tune-up of a bicycle, or a meditation app subscription.
- Encourage work-life balance by offering flexible schedules, working remotely, and part-time options.
- Pursue the WELL Health Safety Rating, including features related to mental health.
These are some strategies employers can use to support their employees’ mental health. It is not just the employees that benefit from these strategies; investing in health is good for employers too. According to IWBI’s in-depth research review “Investing in Health Pays Back: The Growing Research Behind the Business Case for Healthy Buildings and Healthy Organizations”, investing in employee health and wellness has been proven to increase productivity and performance, reduce turnover, reduce health care costs, and increase employee satisfaction. Everyone wins.