Helping employees address their wellbeing in the workplace is a must-have not a nice-to-have. Broadly speaking, the traditional business model encouraged, even mandated, people to separate their personal and professional lives. But with technological advances, we have eliminated the physical boundaries between work and “real life.” The COVID era is showing us that productivity can still move forward in many industries with all-remote workforces. However, we haven’t addressed the chasm of bridging the individual’s two selves – personal and professional – in the workplace. The idea that we need to be two different people, put on different faces, is counterintuitive to every health and wellness teaching out there. We are who we are; and if we are not well at home, we will suffer in the workplace. If we suffer in the workplace, the business undoubtedly will suffer, too.
19 IDEAS’ wellness initiative is our way to bring people together during New York’s shelter-in-place order, and also provide an opportunity for individuals to evaluate and work towards greater mental and emotional health. We have a daily gratitude prompt that is intended for people to find the joy and positive aspects of their lives, even when there doesn’t seem to be much positive in our world. We deliver monthly food packages to every member of our staff to let them know that we care about their well-being and want them to eat well. One of our software developers is a certified mental health counselor and we’ve asked him to lead weekly meditations and visualizations to help people be able to go inside themselves for greater clarity and peace. We have virtual one-on-one hangouts where people regularly check in with each other. We have weekly creative prompts where the team can express themselves through fun and engaging art projects, and then guess whose artwork is who’s during our weekly virtual happy hour. We’ve implemented new Slack channels for people to engage with one another in more meaningful ways, both at work and after hours, on topics such as health & wellness, food, entertainment, sports, pets and other things that bring people happiness and relief. There’s an additional Slack “status” we’ve introduced whereby staff can set their status to “Mental Health Break” to signal to the team that they need time for themselves during the workday. We have a shared Spotify playlist that bonds the team over favorite or new music. We celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries and still recognize these major milestones while remote. And finally, we are encouraging people to take PTO to rest, sleep, recharge or just take care of themselves.
This wellness initiative has become a critical function of our business because we know that if our employees are not well, our business will not be well. It’s short-sighted to think that these things take away from productivity; quite the contrary. Instead of letting people struggle in silence, we provide an outlet that gives them space and opportunity to find solace and peace. This leads to happier, more productive people. Your employees are people. Acknowledging everyone’s humanity is not just good for business, it’s good for our world and our community.