Picture this scenario. It’s 2021 and you’re all drained out from work amidst a global pandemic. For an increasing number of workers this might be true. If you’re feeling trapped in this scene, we’re here to tell you that health doesn’t have to suffer. Life can be organised in a way it supports a comfortable working environment.
Open any news site, and things are clear. If anything breeds anxiety, it’s uncertainty. So except for the economic crisis, we could easily be witnessing a mental health crisis. People feel more socially isolated, life satisfaction has fallen, scientists even claim the pandemic affects our brain. However, you know all of this already.
But, here’s the thing. If anything has signalled that mental health shouldn’t be a taboo, especially in the workplace, it’s the pandemic. So, what can we learn from that? Talking about mental health is central to finding solutions, so here’s what you need to know.
Why burnout headlining the news could bring great changes
What made headlines in June was the fact that the dating app Bumble has announced a paid week-long holiday for all staff globally in a bid to combat collective burnout. They’ve shut down their offices around the world, with a staff of 700 employees.
Similarly, to prevent burnout, LinkedIn gave its entire company, almost 16,000 full time staff, the week off back in April. Google even asked its employees to take a day off to address work-from-home related burnout.
All of these examples normalize the conversation around mental health and invite companies to find their own best practices when dealing with the issue.
The right to disconnect
In this always-on culture we live in, and especially working from home, the barriers of a workday easily erode. But, the thing is, your work-life balance shouldn’t be jeopardised. Give your employees the right to log off anytime they need without the fear of being penalized.
While some may think that having employees respond to emails after work is a good way to increase productivity, research suggests that hurts their job performance. In an effort to prevent burnout, some companies have already acknowledged that problem and blocked access to email servers after work hours, such as Volkswagen did years ago.
Make the effort to help employees unplug, even if it’s just a gentle nudge from a manager. This right to disconnect may either way soon be legally binding Europe-wide.
Make Meetings shorter
Remember that saying – this meeting could have been an email? It’s not just meeting virtually or in person that causes fatigue and stress, there’s also the frustration of not having our time valued and used effectively.
According to Steven G. Rogelberg, PhD, the author of “The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance”, you can schedule meetings for 25 minutes instead of a half hour and leave the last five minutes to stretch or take a bathroom break. That way you proactively mitigate Zoom fatigue, and leave time for thinking, team work, and creativity. Or start the meeting at, let’s say, 9:08 am. According to the author, this little tweak means that tardiness drops and more high-quality discussions come up.
Going a step further, at coding school One Month they either avoid meetings or have them once a week. Working from home is nothing new, so the way to create closeness with your teams might not be to schedule in as many meetings as you can. Quality is more important than quantity.
Let them take that vacation
According to Marc Wittman, author of “Felt Time”, new experiences are more memorable and make your vacation feel longer. They give you a dopamine hit. Even if you’re with family and people you care about, that stimulates the release of oxytocin, the neurochemical responsible for feelings of trust, support, mediates stress and boosts overall wellbeing.
The US marketing company FullContact offered $7,500 bonuses for travel to more than 200 of their employees. The catch is they can’t look at work emails while on vacation. Revolut, on the other hand, is giving all employees two paid wellbeing days on top of regular annual leave days to reward their high-tempo performance amidst unusual circumstances.
Goldman Sachs has given all their employees an extra 10 days of family leave to handle, as they say, unique personal circumstances related to the profound impact of Covid-19. Let them take that vacation, guilt free.
Building community around mental health
There are many great examples appearing as a part of a company’s wellbeing strategy. The work management app Asana recently launched Thrive, their internal mental health community. They create space to speak about mental health, and provide employees with skills and resources to support their own wellbeing.
Spotify’s plan for mental health and emotional wellbeing is called “Heart & Soul”. The program has its ambassadors and a podcast aiming to reduce stigma around the topic. At software services firm Clearvision, HR team members took a mental health first aid course and made themselves available for employees to contact if they needed support.
The mental health initiative Microsoft Cares offers in-person, digital, and telephone counseling, while Virgin offers an interactive workshop called MindCoach that gives participants stress coping strategies.
These initiatives serve as a good example of how to put mental health on the agenda.
Make self care a priority and provide resources
Essentially, mental health should be treated like physical health. If, for example, your employees need some time off from stress, you can make them feel comfortable asking for it. Just as they would ask for some time off if they have a dentist appointment.
Software company Zendesk partnered with mental health benefits provider Modern Health offering easy-to-access resources, including therapy, coaching and videos. The global usage among employees within the first week was 25% and that engagement has held strong.
Healthy diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep are important for general health and concentration. It’s proven that exercise reduces anxiety and depression. A recent study also says scientists have discovered that the most effective way to build mental wellbeing is practicing mindfulness using techniques such as meditation and conscious breathing.
Make employees prioritize health. But most importantly, we are all different. So one of the best practices might be to give workers a personal benefit budget. You can offer a range of perks, and they can choose these to suit their own needs and wishes
Wellbeing is one of the hottest words in business today, certainly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. When it comes to wellbeing, good communication is the key, but it has to go two-ways. Forbes writes that by listening and showing your vulnerabilities, leaders can help secure workplace wellbeing.
Mental health is also a huge opportunity for HR teams and companies to make a difference. The bottom line is, a quality workforce is in demand, which is why wellbeing in the workplace is becoming more important to attract and keep good tech talent.
If you are looking to hire tech talent or you just need advice get in touch with us to see how we can help recruit the best developers for your company.