As the pace of change around the world and in our daily lives becomes more intense, Poly has been ramping up our resource offerings to support employee wellbeing and maintaining their mental health. In acknowledgment of Mental Health Day on October 10th, I thought I would share how Poly is tackling the important question – how do we ensure our employees are receiving the proper care they need to be mentally strong and healthy while at work and in their personal lives?
As a Human Resources professional, I think of mental wellbeing as a state of being that allows a person to cope with the normal stresses of life, be productive and effective at work, and can contribute to their community. It’s more than just a day of focus – it’s a sustained effort. This is why finding the right tools for your employee wellbeing program is essential. In this blog, I will share with you what approach Poly is taking to assist our employees with the hope that our actions can inform HR professionals and individuals alike while we navigate our new ways of living and working during these extraordinary times.
IDENTIFY WHAT RESOURCES YOUR WORKFORCE NEEDS
As soon as the pandemic hit, the HR team began proactively reaching out to managers and employees to understand their concerns, as well as gathered insights into how employees were truly feeling during these turbulent times. The two most common themes we identified were isolation and burnout.
Feelings of isolation were understandable given social distancing requirements, but also, many employees enjoyed conventional “office life” and the social interactions they had with their coworkers on a regular basis. Additionally, feelings of burnout resulted from the new challenges presented by the need to establish boundaries between personal and work life. Many of our employees have spouses, partners, or roommates who are also working from home full-time, which led to difficulties in separating responsibilities and social time. Additionally, many employees that we heard from were juggling the obligation of assisting their children with distance learning and caretaking while trying to remain productive at work.
Through a number of programs and initiatives, Poly aims to provide support to our employees’ mental and physical health during and after the pandemic. We hope that by providing tools that are free, available on-demand, and easy to use, we can help our employees develop repeatable skills to maintain their mental health in a variety of ways.
PROGRAMS FOR A HEALTHY WORKFORCE
Mental health isn’t something that will be tackled in a day, so it’s important to take the long view with a multi-pronged approach. With stressors coming in from all angles, it’s more important than ever to look after your employee’s wellbeing. Mental Health America claims that “stress from work can impact [employees] family life, mental health, and even increase risks for chronic illnesses and heart attacks.” Making it appropriate that many employers are increasing their investment in health and wellbeing programs. In the same survey, it was found that stress management ranked among the highest when it comes to how companies expect to increase investment in employee wellness programs.
If you’re thinking “stress management” sounds a bit broad, I would agree. This is because everyone manages their stress in different ways depending on their preferences or even how they are feeling that day. This is where the multi-pronged approach comes in. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to supporting the wellbeing of multiple (if not thousands of) individuals. At Poly, we offer wellness programs in areas such as digital training programs to help people improve mental wellbeing, physical activity, and telehealth services.
Tools for Employee Wellbeing & Mental Health
Platforms that offer digital training programs to help people improve their mental wellbeing, interpersonal relationships and sleep are a popular choice for many organizations. At Poly, we use a platform called WHIL which offers a set of activity-based, micro-learning sessions, and daily audio or video sessions in a variety of different areas designed to reduce stress and anxiety. The top three topics our employees are interested in have been, Learning to Meditate, Reduce Stress and Anxiety, and Sleep Better. Finding a platform that offers an array of wellbeing-centric personal development has the potential to go a long way for the health of your organization.
Remaining physically active during a time of isolation has proven to be a challenge for some. But when it comes to managing stress, any movement can make an enormous impact. According to the Mayo Clinic, “exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever.” In January, we will offer our employees a flexible fitness platform called Peerfit, which offers access to gyms and studios in the US (actively operating in person or virtually), live virtual classes, and digital streaming providers.
During a time when some might be feeling lonely and in need of personal space all at once, it can be extremely beneficial to speak with a professional who is external to our personal lives. For our employees based in the U.S., Poly is enhancing our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offering to include a clinically reviewed, evidence-based wellness platform through Aetna that provides messaging-based emotional health therapy and support. Additionally, we’ve expanded Poly’s virtual care solutions to include mobile cognitive behavioral therapy options.
SUPPORTING OUR EMPLOYEES YEAR ROUND
Our hope is that these programs benefit both our employees and their families during the pandemic and beyond. Aside from the above-mentioned programs, we recommend that if possible, our employees create a comfortable and private place in their home to work, try incorporating exercise or meditation breaks, and take time to ensure social interaction in their daily routines. We also recommend limiting emails before and after working hours and try to maintain a normal sleep schedule. Establishing parameters that help to balance work and home life will help maintain a feeling of normalcy.
Mental health Day is especially important this year as many struggle with anxiety and isolation directly correlated to the current event, the pandemic and the shift to working from home. Check-in on your colleagues. Invite them for a virtual water cooler break. At Poly, recognize the positive impact that employee wellbeing and mental health programs can have on our employees and we will continue to focus on implementing or increasing workplace wellness initiatives. Additionally, we encourage other companies to implement similar programs to start improving the mental health of employees today, for the long-term.
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