Battery Levels & Mental Health in the Workplace

October 13, 2020

2020 has been a year of concurrent stressors. Pandemic. Racial injustice. Increased social isolation. Homeschooling. Uncertainty about the future. Companies are struggling with the logistics of continuing to be a remote workforce for the long term while making hard decisions about when and how to return to the office. 

Employees are struggling too. According to a SHRM study, 2 in 5 employees are struggling with work/life balance, almost a quarter report feeling depressed (with only 7% having reached out to a healthcare professional), and 41% of employees report being “burned out.”

According to Harvard Business Review though, nearly 40% of people admit that their company has not even asked them how they’re doing since the pandemic began. Pause. Let that sink in. Nearly 40% of people have never had a manager or leader check in to ask them how they’ve been doing, coping, struggling or managing their way through a period of a global pandemic, social unrest, isolation and general uncertainty. 

So how can we support the mental wellness of our employees? We can start by checking in. 

Taking a page from Brene Brown’s podcast on FFTs, our team has adopted a system of labeling how we’re doing by sharing our battery levels. For example, when you’re well-rested and handling all the things you’re 90-100% and when you’re stretched too thin and feeling overwhelmed you’re at 30%. 

It gives us an opportunity as a team to be open, honest and transparent about where we are while removing the potential for shame if we’re not feeling our best. It’s a great way to acknowledge the ups and downs we’re all facing right now and to work as a team to support one another. We even use icons in Slack to represent our battery level so at a glance, we can see if someone is in the red zone and needs some help.

Here are a few other ways to support mental wellness in the workplace: 

  • Normalize conversations about mental wellness by clearly communicating what benefits are available
  • Regularly check in with (for help digging in past the question of “Are you ok?”, check out this interactive website from “R U OK?”)
  • Create a work from home pledge at the company level to help set new expectations and standards that encourage balance (IBM is a great example!)
  • Provide a monthly mental wellness stipend for employees to use 
  • Encourage employees to actually take time off 
  • Regularly share resources such as mindfulness and meditation tools, tips for stress relief and practical tips for navigating the pandemic.

Speaking of resources, we’ve included some of our favorites below! Looking for more bite-sized brilliance? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

App-Based Resources
Resources for Managers and Employees
Resources for HR and IC Pros
Anna Downing

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