Mental Health is Real.
Mental health is not something to be taken lightly in the workplace.
In fact, did you know that your employees’ sense of well-being directly affects your bottom line?
I recently had a discussion with another broker who told me that mental health was “hooey” and wanted to know who made up these numbers about the cost of mental health.
I suggested that he survey his clients. Talk to the administrative staff – not the owners. He changed his opinion once he learned from his research that it is indeed expensive when employers are not proactive in dealing with mental health issues.
Employees struggling with mental health are generally less productive, use more sick days, and can be a distraction to other employees. People carry their moods into the workplace which impacts relationships and the culture of any organization.
Fighting the Winter Blues
It’s no secret that winter can be a hard time for people.
Sometimes it’s harder to stay upbeat and motivated. The rainy gray weather outside only makes people feel more sluggish and craving the sofa.
For some, it can be challenging on a deeper level with depression.
It’s important to realize that our mood is not just about having a bad day or a good day at the office. Our stress level does have a direct impact on our health, and sickness is more rampant this time of year. Sickness drives up your company’s healthcare costs. To be proactive in providing mental health awareness has a financial price tag employers can help control.
What can you do to help your team stay positive and focused during the winter months?
Take a Lunch Break
It feels counter intuitive – But taking a break from work actually makes you more productive.
If possible, allow some flexibility for your staff to get a break from work during the day. This can be a time to decompress with co-workers, or enjoy a moment of solitude, or run a quick errand. Employees who eat a good meal find it energizes their body and fuels the brain to concentrate better.
Enjoy the Sun When You Can
During the winter, it’s important to take advantage of good weather days when the sun is out. Getting adequate sunlight improves sleep quality, boosts the immune system, and releases more endorphins in the brain to improve mood levels.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is when people struggle with depression and low energy levels during the winter due to the lack of sunlight. For work environments with few windows and natural light, you could suggest light box therapy. There are many reasonably priced light box devices on the market.
Also, did you know that sunlight can help with eye-fatigue from the computer screen? If your staff gets headaches and eye strain from looking at the computer all day, suggest a quick walk outside or even just looking out the window is beneficial. You could also suggest looking away from the computer screen for 30 seconds.
Move Your Body
If your employees are sitting at a desk all day, one of the best things they can do is to get up and move their body. Even a quick 10-minute walk during a lunch break can really make a difference. Why? Because movement in the body increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain which helps concentration.
My staff has a dance break. Yes, you read that right. An employee will say, “Let’s dance” and calls everyone together. We play a song on a phone. It’s quick and simple. In an intense work environment, a little movement and humor goes a long way.
All mental health professionals recommend walking or other light exercise because it alters our brain chemistry, allowing our body to decompress from stress, and releases those happy hormones.
Try it. It works.
Utilize TeleMental Health Resources
Remind your employees about the resources offered to them if they need professional help.
Many of the major insurance companies now offer mental telehealth imbedded in their health insurance policy.
Ask your health insurance broker what mental health options are included in your company’s policy and ask for flyers to distribute to your employees to educate them on how to access these services. TeleMental health is available 24/7. It is completely confidential. We suggest that you remind your employees of these services several times a year.
I hope this has helped you think creatively about how you can improve your employees’ mental health.
We tend to think that all we can do in the winter is to muddle through, hunker down, and endure the cold. But there are practical things you can do to help improve the overall well-being of your employees during this time.
Take advantage of this opportunity to incorporate healthy habits within your company.
You will be glad you did.