In a 2022 survey, one in four Canadian employees described their mental health as “bad” or “very bad”.
The same report found a 22% decline in positive mental health in workers over the past two years. Many respondents also reported symptoms of burnout caused by their job, with 36% reporting sleeping problems, 29% reporting constantly worrying, and 25% saying they had difficulty concentrating.
Despite society overcoming the many challenges brought on by the pandemic, mental health in the workplace remains a huge issue in Canada. Many employers may think of improving employee wellness as the responsibility of workers, remedied by adopting healthier lifestyles or cutting back on work hours. But it is becoming increasingly apparent that to improve wellness in the workplace, employers are responsible for providing the right tools and resources to employees.
Despite the negative impacts of work-related stress and its growing prevalence in society, employers who build their workplace culture around certain practices can improve employee wellness.
What can managers do to improve employee wellness?
Whether supporting employees working remotely or at the office, there are many ways employers can promote wellness at work. Some of these are more practical offerings like providing ergonomic equipment, while others include encouraging healthy habits like sticking to a routine, eating well, and getting enough rest, stretching, or meditation.
Best practices for mental wellness in the workplace
Repetitive motions and sitting for long hours in the same position can increase the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. To mitigate the chance of employee injury, employers should encourage employees to take frequent breaks.
If working remotely, remind employees to get up and stretch, take a walk around the block every few hours, or set reminders on their phones to take short breaks throughout the day.
Remind about routine
Encouraging employees who are working from home to set a fixed routine is important for their physical and mental health, as well as their productivity. This can include waking up at a fixed time, making sure they have breakfast, and avoiding overworking by sticking to work hours only.
Recommend therapy dogs
Google, Amazon, and Ben & Jerry’s have all used therapy dogs to relieve stress in the workplace. Therapy dogs can not only help employees destress, but also energize, bring joy, and boost overall morale in the office. Employers should be mindful to check-in with staff beforehand to ensure take note of any allergies or phobias, and ensure that no one other than the handler take control of the leash.
Encourage goal setting
Goal setting is an important part of keeping employees motivated. Encourage employees to make a list of things to do every day, as well as meet their work deadlines and personal well-being targets—whether that’s getting to the office at a certain time each day or completing their daily meditation practice. Encourage them to reward themselves for their achievements, however small they may be.
Keep communication open
Set up a check-in schedule with employees, especially if they live and work alone. Make sure you are clear on deadlines and project briefs. Ask them about any issues they may be facing.
Connect employees with resources
And lastly, ensure that employees are aware of and have access to mental health resources, such as an Employee Assistance Program. This is an excellent way to help your employees who may be struggling with personal difficulties, such as stress, substance abuse, financial issues, poor mental health or family or marital problems.
Physical wellness tips for the workplace
Encourage ergonomic equipment
To promote employee wellness, it is important that work equipment is sturdy and durable. To prevent injury, employers are recommended to provide ergonomic equipment and ensure employees adopt the following ergonomic principles:
- Make sure workstations are properly adjusted, well-lit, and set up beside a source of light, if possible. The window or source of light should not be in front or behind them and them, and the screen should be at arm’s length.
- Ensure that the top of their screen is at eye level.
- Keyboards and mice should be used where possible, at 90 degrees, with wrists straight.
- Poor sitting practices can cause neck and back strain over time. Discourage employees from working from a bed or couch and recommend the use of cushions if their chair is not adjustable.
Promote healthy habits
- To promote physical wellness, encourage employees to go for a walk or get some sort of exercise before they start the day. Educate employees on the importance of healthy eating, not skipping meals or eating junk food, and getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
Educate about safety
- Whether at home or in the office, to ensure a safe working environment, ensure that employees are always working in a well-lit, clean, and clutter-free space. To reduce the risk of common injuries, make sure there aren’t any sharp or heavy objects, or loose electrical cords lying around.
Do you need help updating your HR policies?
If you have employees working from home, it is important that you create a remote work policy for your business. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it is the employer’s duty to take all reasonable precautions for the health and safety of employees.
Protect your business by having well-drafted wellness policies in place. Our HR advisors can help you create, update, and review company policies, as well as provide any advice you may need on HR, health and safety, or employee management.
To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 312-6720.