Wellness at Work

Supporting staff wellbeing in the workplace is the responsibility of every business owner. Priorities that come to mind include: paying competitive wages and offering comprehensive benefit plans, or encouraging career development opportunities through educational programming and training.

But what about mental health? Here are some mental-health focused activities, resources and strategies that can be incorporated in an employee’s wellness program:

Enlist the help of a corporate wellness provider

As increasing research supports a correlation between healthy workplaces and increased productivity, higher engagement levels, and cost savings relating to reduced absenteeism and job turnover, the number of companies offering expert programming — wellness retreats, seminars, and even private health and medical services — is on the rise .

For example, Well Street, a Toronto-based workplace health solutions provider, delivers onsite, customized wellness programs to companies nationwide. Services range from a flu prevention clinic to healthy eating seminars and keynote presentations on topics like stress and work-life balance. Flexible, customizable delivery options make it easy for businesses to provide quality wellness programming to their teams that is relevant and informative.

Organize a meditation workshop

In addition to helping achieve greater focus and mindfulness, which are helpful in today’s hectic, distraction-laden workplace, increasing research shows that there are many health benefits associated with the practice of meditation. From overall stress reduction to more successful management of physical and psychological disorders, there are a number of reasons why people are turning to meditation as a personal wellness solution.

Modern + Mindful , a mobile meditation company in Calgary, has helped companies like Lululemon, Uber, and The Forzani Group with customized meditation workshops. Some of the benefits their clients attest to include reduced stress, pain, or depression, as well as improved sleep quality, and a boost in immune response to illness.

Offer regular Mental Health First Aid training

For years now it has been fairly commonplace to have a designated fire warden, safety officer, or first aid responder in the workplace. Gaining momentum in recent years is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training, which provides team members with the skills they need to respond to someone who may be either developing a mental health problem, experiencing the worsening of an existing mental health problem, or currently undergoing a mental health crisis.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada offers Mental Health First Aid training courses nationwide where participants learn how to confidently interact with others about mental health issues. In addition to providing strategies used to successfully recognize, respond to, and guide someone who may be experiencing a mental health crisis, MHFA in the workplace helps break down mental health stigmas and increase awareness.

Encourage and support opportunities for physical fitness

Scientific evidence has long vouched for the positive health benefits of physical exercise on the body. From cancer prevention to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and nearly everything in between, there is really nothing that exercise can’t help. Not surprisingly, evidence is mounting for the mental benefits of exercise , with positive results relating to mood enhancement, alleviation of depression, and reduction in anxiety symptoms.

The demands of daily life have changed dramatically in the last hundred years or so, with much of our time spent on pursuits that are mentally challenging, but largely sedentary and desk-bound. It has become increasingly difficult for people to make exercise a priority in their day.

Many corporate wellness programs are looking to change this mindset by offering options like corporate fitness discounts or flexible work schedules to allow employees to attend gym classes or go for a run during the day. It can be as simple as installing a bike rack to encourage staff to ride to work or offering weekly lunch-hour fitness classes in the conference room. Supporting fitness in the workplace is an important step in supporting physical and mental wellness at work.

Pet therapy

Allergies permitting, doggos in the workplace are increasingly popular, with some good research backing up the benefits . There’s just something about being greeted by a wagging tail that can completely turn your day around.

Not only are pets in the workplace known to help reduce levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol, their presence also tends to trigger workplace interactions that would not normally take place, contributing to a boost in morale and relationship building.

Employers want their teams to do their best and be happy at work. Providing access to supportive tools and resources helps make this happen. In addition to implementing programs and initiatives, being a champion for mental health in the workplace is an important way to reduce stigma and encourage people to access help if they need it.

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