Let’s face it, we’ve all been affected by stress at least once in our lifetimes. Last month, companies around the globe acknowledged Stress Awareness Month in the workplace, since it’s the ideal time to hit the pause button and help your employees recharge their batteries.
It’s key to let your employees know you’re dedicated to improving the employee experience and you care about their overall wellbeing.
And coming up, we'll celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week. But we should always strive to make the workplace a comfortable and inviting environment throughout the entire year (and beyond!). It’s been a big initiative for myself and the other Experience Managers in our offices to improve mental wellbeing at work to foster more productive, engaging and profitable organisations.
Last year myself and five colleagues discovered we shared a keen interest in proactive mental health management. Having experienced a variety of mental health experiences between us, we wanted to use our journeys to help others and so the UK Level Up team was born.
The first challenge for us was to open up conversations about mental health, and we had some amazing stories come out of my fellow colleagues about their own struggles and triumphs over managing grief, depression and more.
Through our employee engagement platform, employees shared brave stories with the entire organisation to raise awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace – helping to build a community of empathy and empowerment. We’ve also created a Slack channel for this initiative to keep the conversation going throughout the entire year.
Being a part of the Level Up team has increased my empathy and understanding for the wider business. But we’re not done yet. Here are a few other ways to improve wellbeing at work, with a special focus on mental health:
Create an engaging environment
Stress doesn’t only affect your employees, it also affects your business as a whole. On any given workday, an estimated 1 million workers are absent due to stress, according to a report by the CDC.
Stressed employees are more likely to burn out, which means they’re not engaged, motivated or productive.
So, how can we create an engaging environment where employees feel less-stressed and less-overwhelmed? Here at Reward Gateway, we fully embrace flexible working arrangements – this could mean working from home, working different hours or shifts, or working part-time – giving your employees that extra hour of sleep they need to be productive.
We work with our employees to find a solution that meets the needs of both their job and their personal life.
These are tailored individually to help relieve their stress and help them be more productive. Our policy on flexible working is simple: Just ask your manager for what you think you need, and agree upon it.
When you trust your employees to get their work done in a way that works for them and create opportunities for work-life balance, they’ll come to work the next day feeling more motivated, refreshed and productive.
Provide the right resources
Do you talk about stress at work? Do your employees feel like they can openly and honestly communicate about stress? It’s crucial that we provide the right resources to our employees to help them feel supported, especially during times of uncertainty or stress. To help, we started a “stress shelf” in the London library, filled with adult colouring books, affirmation cards, and books on stress management and mindfulness practices.
We also encourage our employees to visit our wellbeing hub on boom!, our engagement platform, where we’ve introduced the “Level Up lounge,” where we offer “Level Up” buddies to offer a supportive ear, helpful videos, a recommended list of books around personal wellbeing and more.
Each of these elements play a role in helping employees feel less-stressed at work. Our clients who use our Wellbeing Centre product have the opportunity to deliver engaging content for all pillars of wellbeing — mental, physical and financial.
If you’re unable to create a stress shelf, establish a reading or video nook or an area where employees can go and take a few minutes out of their day to hit the recharge button. Sometimes a sunny window seat is all we need.
Another employee benefit we offer globally to our employees is a wellbeing allowance. Each quarter, employees choose to spend their allowance on a wellbeing initiative of their choice – whether it’s a gym membership or meditation classes.
This focus on physical, financial, mental and emotional wellbeing helps employees stress less and focus on their own health and happiness.
Respect individual preferences
Everyone has different preferences and handles situations differently, which is especially true in the work environment. Here at RG, we want our employees to feel like their individual preferences matter – especially when it comes to our office design.
Our offices around the globe are open, collaborative and agile in design – meaning employees have the freedom and choice to move around each day and pick the spot that’s ideal for them.
To combat stress in the workplace and build a culture of collaboration, it’s important to first understand people’s communication and workstyle preferences.
It’s key that our offices have spaces for every individual’s needs – with quiet spaces for being heads down, open areas for collaboration and plenty of meeting rooms. We encourage our people to work the way they want to.
Knowing that you can come into the office each day and have a space designated for the type of work you need to do is one less thing for employees to worry about and helps our people be more productive.
Build a community of empathy
Each day is different and you never know what another person in your office is going through outside of work. As Experience Managers, it’s our job to bring our people together and create a positive experience for RG employees.
Sometimes we need to put ourselves in others’ shoes to understand how we can best help and practice empathy for others.
Not sure if you’re prepared to do that just yet? Take the initiative to attend a training course to gain the skills you may be lacking. Last year I attended a mental health awareness training to help me better understand the signs and signals to pay attention to in the office.
I want people to know that they can talk to me whenever they need to.
Coming up next, we have a workshop to help interested staff manage anxiety and depression, and build resilience, an important topic we discovered through our employee wellbeing survey.
Mental health isn’t something to shy away from at work – instead talk about and embrace it. Being flexible and practicing empathy are the keys to a profitable organisation because your employees and your business will benefit from higher productivity and engagement.
What next step will you take towards helping your employees recharge their batteries?