Anne Krog Iversen built, implemented and manages corporate mindfulness as Co-Founder, Chief DNA, People and Culture Officer at TimeXtender.
World Mental Health Day is October 10, 2020.
For too long, mental health has been a private issue that each person dealt with alone. However, over the years, progressive business organizations have instituted mental health programs at work, such as mindfulness, team exercise and break rooms to help their employees. While mental health programs at work are a growing trend, they’re even more important today with the pandemic upon us.
At our company, we’ve made it a priority to support our employees while being dispersed and remote. While working from home does have its privileges (no commute, dress down, just to name a few), it can also cause isolation and loneliness. Given this, it’s important to address staying mentally healthy.
As executive managers, we can develop socializing and communicative programs to align value and purpose for each employee to help them be productive, feel connected to colleagues and share in a common goal and purpose while working from home. With that, let’s take a look at a few initiatives that might inspire you in your efforts to help your remote workforce prosper.
1. Develop a supportive HR structure. Start by having a culture program in place to help employees thrive and find stability in the new workplace reality. Self-management skills are crucial to being successful when routines and structure change dramatically overnight. Our team operates in autonomous organizational purpose circles (OPCs) — a concept I’ve written about previously — which were created to enable flexibility and to work as one global team working from anywhere. We invite employees to join purpose talks to align personal purpose with organizational purpose. From here, employees can work on their values to try to meet personal and professional challenges. This HR platform provides us with a proactive way so that leadership can support employees to take action, meet challenges and achieve goals.
Other ways to instill culture programs might be as small as encouraging employees to take a deep breath during the day, which can help calm your mind and schedule time for silence. Everyone on our team has one-minute hourglasses that we turn at the beginning of meetings — at which time we practice a minute of silence. Practicing this has been quite helpful in recharging our minds during Covid-19. Even minor changes such as these can empower your employees to be mindful of themselves even when circumstances are overwhelming.
2. Encourage individual dialogue. Inviting employees to regular talks is essential and encouraging so they can reach out for assistance as needed. These talks can vary from status discussion to an individual’s purpose. With these discussions, we encourage all to listen to understand and then to be understood, as suggested by Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. These discussions become a space holder for creating a welcoming and inclusive place for sharing honest dialogue. All situations and talks are different and the best action we can take as leaders is to listen and be available.
Whether your employees are back in the office, working remotely or a combination, provide corporate mindfulness and recharge sessions. Have regular mindfulness sessions where HR can introduce various tools to employees so they can find their own way to balance and resilience. During Covid-19, these sessions help provide calmness, social connectedness and trust, which can be a pathway to open future dialogues between employees and managers.
3. Leverage technology. You don’t have to be a tech company to leverage technology for the benefit of your employees. Technology can be a great asset in supporting your HR mental health program, culture initiatives and innovation.
OPCs require the support of technology to save time and energy, enable collaboration and communication and provide centralized knowledge sharing. Technology helps us focus on sharing win-win stories on our corporate intranet, employee feedback and training tips. Here are two types of technology we’ve had great success with.
- A software program used for managing team projects. With the right project management software, you can organize, control and plan by storing and sharing files, documents and records. You can host group chats, leave messages, share updates, give boosts/kudos, publish schedules and check statuses. You can break down projects by professional tasks such as research and development or marketing and social media. Rather than having all this spread across various apps, it’s all organized in one software. This also means OPCs can be effectively managed and monitored. This gives a sense of order that’s necessary for being creative and for everyone’s mental health.
- An HR information system. A program like this should enable employees to feel safe as their personal data is kept in order. Using an HR information system is advantageous for a company as it helps deliver a welcoming onboarding experience by automating the new-hire process and ensuring that all people who take part in onboarding are notified timely so that the flow is professional and welcoming.
Since the pandemic hit and our team has become remote, we’ve conducted surveys about working from home. This research indicates that people feel that they can actually be more focused on working from home without the daily disturbances that occur in the workplace. However, they admit that they miss socializing and the creative energy they find from being around people.
We’re all adjusting to the new workplace given this challenging environment, and we’re all striving to keep energy high, make the right decisions and maintain an action-oriented workplace. Strong mental health can help you pull through and with a proactive mindset, your employees and company can advance. If you don’t have a culture program that helps employees feel grounded in a positive and effective fashion, now can be the time to build one. With World Mental Health Day on October 10, what better time to put these ideas into action?
Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?