Battery Levels & Mental Health in the Workplace
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.
- Headspace: Free meditations!
- Stop, Breathe & Think: Always free and also great for kids!
- Happify: Some free content!
- CBT-I-Coach: Free cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia
- FFTs: Navigating “Effing First Times”
- Day 2s and Messy Middles: Dealing with hitting a wall
- Grief and Finding Meaning In It: Need we say more?
Resources for Managers and Employees
- Managing Stress and Emotions When Working Remotely
- Stop Trying to Be Productive
- Remote Work: The Ultimate Guide for Managers & Employees
- Brilliantly Easy Ways to Engage Your Kids While You Try To Work