Mental Wellness in the workplace
The pandemic showed all of us that true work-life balance is a myth because we can’t devote equal attention to every aspect of our lives.
But it did prove to employers that work-life integration and workplace wellness are non-negotiables. Cue the Great Resignation.
As much as 84% of people report at least one workplace factor has negatively impacted their mental health, according to a 2021 study examining Mental Health at Work.
So, how do we sustain this slowly growing commitment to mental wellness in the workplace?
Watch these bite-sized tips and words of encouragement from corporate wellness experts.
Well-being sustains high work performance
Working a 60-hour week doesn’t always equate to high productivity. In fact, advocates of shorter workweeks and employee wellness say it usually leads to decreased productivity and burnout.
Ensuring workers take care of themselves sustains high performance, and it starts with leadership caring about employee’s lives inside and outside of work, says Jen Fisher, Chief Well-being Officer at Deloitte and host of the WorkWell podcast.
“The idea that wellbeing and high performance are somehow mutually exclusive is ridiculous,” Fisher says. “You really need wellbeing to sustain high performance.
“If you really want your people to win and you want the firm to win then the important thing is to create champions in life,” adds Keren Ehrenfeld, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley.
Don’t wait for employers to prioritize your health
While workplace wellness programs are necessary and beneficial, wellness leaders say it’s equally important for workers to speak up if they need extra support, especially if they feel burnout looming. Don’t be ashamed to advocate for yourself.
“We all as individuals need to set boundaries and have our own ownership and agency over our wellbeing, no matter what the firm or the team does,” says Fisher. “We can’t force you to take care of yourself, so you have to have your own personal agency around your own wellbeing and defining what that looks like for you, finding out what you need and being very clear about that.”
Follow this 5-step process when telling your boss about an issue at work
It can be intimidating to let your manager know you’re unhappy with the environment or have a complaint about your work life. Ehrenfeld has some advice on how to effectively communicate your needs. She suggests structuring the meeting like this:
- Ask for feedback on how you’re doing at work.
- Focus on the positive or what’s going well at work.
- Define your stressor so they understand the problem.
- Present solutions. Come with ideas about how your manager can fix the problem.
- End the conversation by asking to put time on the calendar to follow up on what’s discussed. That way you hold the manager and yourself accountable to produce a better work experience.
Watch cautionary tales about burnout
Mental Wellness in the workplace – Jen Fisher’s story
In the video above, Fisher shares her burnout story, insight into the underlying cause, and why most people don’t seek help.
Mental Wellness in the workplace – Keren Ehrenfeld’s story
Ehrenfeld shares how imposter syndrome and the pressure we put on ourselves can actually hinder us from thriving at work.
Wellness doesn’t have to take long
A big misconception is that prioritizing workplace wellness means making major lifestyle changes. Fisher says even scheduling micro-minutes in your calendar or as you experience overwhelm throughout the day, can help improve your overall well-being. Whatever way you choose to approach your wellness, she says it’s crucial that you experiment with strategies until you find what works for you.
“Burnout should not be okay for any of us,” she says. “Arianna Huffington says burnout is not the price for success and it’s absolutely true. We should be able to have a really successful career as a part of a meaningful life. It shouldn’t be either or.”
Photo from Mateus Campos Felipe
About the author
Shernay is a mom, entrepreneur, and lifelong learner who's been fortunate to spend her entire professional career telling stories. She has more than a decade of experience as a TV, print, and radio journalist for local and national news outlets. In 2016, she launched a content firm to help nonprofits and businesses tell their stories more strategically. Her passions: mom empowerment, entrepreneurship, and self-development.
She lives outside of Baltimore with her two sons.