Workplace wellness in the new environment

Five techniques communicators recommend to cultivate mental and emotional resilience in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

5 wellness tips as workers return

Health—both physical and mental—has become the central concern of both employees and employers. To successfully reboard workforces and maintain larger numbers of work-from-home keyboard warriors, organizations must communicate their commitment to health as never before.

“Many employees are eager to return to work, but many are also worried about being able to do so safely,” McKinsey reports. “Companies will need to both reassure employees about safety and find ways to motivate them in a post-lockdown world.”

Deloitte’s chief well-being officer, Jen Fisher, communicates physical and mental health tips and practical advice through multiple company and offsite channels. She records a WorkWell podcast, with some COVID-19-related topics such as “Creating and practicing healthy habits” and “Maintaining human connection, from a distance.” Deloitte posts transcripts online for those who prefer the written word.

Fisher offers health tips such as exercise, eating nutritious snacks and scheduling breaks. “Once you’ve figured out some self-care practices that work for you, the next step is to make them part of your daily routine,” she says.

Deloitte has also created a series of health- and stress-related infographics for its workforce as it manages health issues that will extend into the return-to-work era. One such infographic, on managing stress, communicates tips such as the “Just one thing rule,” which goes, “The quality of work can suffer from mental fatigue and can take longer to complete when you are distracted from multitasking.” Another, noting the harmfulness of excessive screen time, urges, “It’s time to tame the tech beast.”

Fisher contributes and curates externally facing information on Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global, offering wisdom on topics such as preventing burnout and safeguarding your mental health in the time of COVID-19.

The communications on mental health are in keeping with recent research. A Mercer poll asked, “Specific to employee support, which of the following actions are companies taking during the COVID-19 outbreak?” The answer that far outstripped any other, with 85%, was “Communicating reminders about existing employee mental health programs.” Another 30% selected, “Introducing new programs specific to employee mental health.”

5 mental health tips to communicate to your workforce

In one article, Deloitte’s Fisher and coauthor Nate Klemp offer “5 Techniques to Protect Your Mind From the Coronavirus.” Fisher and Klemp, cofounder of the mindfulness-based employee engagement program LifeXT, offer this warning:

We’re living in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis. As a result, most of us have been focused on the unprecedented threat we currently face to our physical health: the risk of infection, sickness and even death.

But there’s a second, more long-term, risk we all face, a risk that may be harder to see but no less threatening to our well-being. It’s the threat to our mental health: the possibility that the mental and emotional scars from this global crisis might stay with us for months, years, or even decades.

How to avoid such lasting harm? Here are five techniques communicators can recommend to cultivate mental and emotional resilience in the midst of this crisis:

1. Reframe the value of self-care. Care for the self isn’t just what you do to feel amazing or look great. It’s a must have, an essential preventative measure to help with your long-term psychological health.

2. Build time for self-care into each day. With old routines shattered, create a new set of rituals to structure the flow of each day and leave time for self-care practices like exercise, meditation, healthy eating, and connecting with friends and family.

3. Get your sleep. Sleep plays a central role in cultivating resilience. Research shows that sleep is the time when the brain processes difficult emotions and clears away harmful toxins. Seven to nine hours a night are recommended.

4. Manage your digital consumption. Now that virtually all of our time consists of “screen time,” it’s even more important now to be intentional about our consumption of digital information.

5. Cultivate kindness. Turn kindness into a daily habit. See what happens when you perform one random act of kindness each day.

This is excerpted from Ragan’s Return to the Workplace Guide. Get your copy today.

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