The importance of looking after our mental health and emotional well being while at work hit the headlines in July after the CEO of a software company was praised for his response to one of his employees taking two days off to focus on her mental health.
Ben Congleton, CEO of Olark Live Chat, was celebrated far and wide for how he dealt with a company-wide message from web developer and engineer, Madalyn Parker, who explained she was taking the time off as sick days with a view to returning to work refreshed and back to 100%.
In an essay he penned on Medium, Congleton said: “It is incredibly hard to be honest about mental health in the typical workplace. In situations like this, it is so easy to tell your teammates you are ‘not feeling well.’
“Even in the safest environment it is still uncommon to be direct with your coworkers about mental health issues. I wanted to call this out and express gratitude for Madalyn’s bravery in helping us normalise mental health as a normal health issue.”
At Quinyx, our aim is to help people enjoy work - normalising mental health and emotional well being is a vital process to go through in order to do this. Employers have a duty of care to their employees to ensure they are being looked after, while employees can also be proactive in looking after themselves.
The outcome is a win-win situation. Happy, healthy employees are the true mark of a successful company. And the good news is there’s a number of different ways we can work to improve mental health in the workplace both as employers and employees.
1. Display emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the capacity for empathy, gratitude and intuition. From self-awareness through to being able to listen to others, every office culture should encourage understanding between the people who work there. Employees at all levels of an organisation should feel they are in an environment where they can share their concerns or experiences with confidence and without judgement.
2. Talk to each other. It’s so easy to send an email, a WhatsApp or a Slack message that sometimes we forget the simple power of taking the time to actually talk with our colleagues. Encourage staff to talk freely, openly and honestly with each other. This tone is often set by an organisation’s leaders and senior management teams. They should set a strong example others can follow and feel empowered by.
3. Find time to breathe. We all breathe every second of the day yet very rarely do we take the time to think about our breathing and how it affects us. A deep breath can be a wonderful cure for many stressful situations. And practising breathing, whether through activities like yoga or meditation, can have a huge influence on how healthy our minds are. The app Headspace is a great place to start for an introduction into guided meditation.
4. Be active. A healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand together. Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. This doesn’t mean everyone should spend hours on end at the gym, simply that staying active promotes wellbeing. Like many other employers, at Quinyx we’ve taken the step to financially support our employees to stay active.
5. Take lunch. Or fika! Our head office is in Stockholm and anyone who has been to Sweden knows fika is much more than a coffee break. It’s the opportunity to take a break, slow down and appreciate what’s happening in your day. We just do it with great coffee and a pastry. The same goes for lunch. For too long there’s been the expectation in Western culture that dedicated employees don’t take lunch breaks. Thankfully this is becoming less and less common as bosses realise the importance of not driving their staff to breaking point.
We firmly believe all businesses should promote wellbeing for their staff, support their staff who may be experiencing mental health related problems and to tackle the underlying causes of what these issues may be.
One of our aims, as well as creating a culture where our staff can enjoy work, is to empower others to do it through the principles of innovation, simplicity, quality and passion which we bring to our software development.
We also put user experience first and by creating a user friendly solution we help take away the stress of software that doesn’t work and creates more headaches than those it solves. As a result, we hope we create workforce management software that improves the quality of life for the people who use it.
You can also read our guide on Employee Engagement here