Prioritizing Mental Wellbeing in 2023 – Closing the Gap

Remote work offers many benefits, including the ability to choose a preferred workspace with a faster commute or no commute at all. Remote work has also empowered employees to prioritize their overall wellbeing.  For example, while employees are eager to minimize their commute, it is not solely to avoid traffic; rather, they would be able to increase their time with family, hours of sleep, flexibility to focus on mental health, and ability to incorporate physical activity and healthy dining.

While most remote workers find the extra time advantageous, many company executives continue to be concerned that remote work results in a loss of productivity. Companies will need to develop a balance between a culture that emphasizes employee wellbeing while ensuring a productive environment, a task that Poll Everywhere can help with.

According to a recent study, organizations operate at their best when employees feel that their happiness and wellbeing are valued by their leaders. In short, a happy workplace is a healthy workplace. Despite employers’ awareness of employees’ desire to feel supported and safe at work, there is a disconnect between how the two view mental health and wellness: employees tend to value wellbeing initiatives a bit more than employers. Faced with the frustration of not having their needs met, employees have made it clear that they will no longer tolerate inadequacies when it comes to their workplaces’ wellness models. By demanding better from companies, employees have forced employers to take responsibility for changing the narrative around mental wellbeing in the workplace, in spite of lingering hesitation around potential loss in productivity and decline in results.

In my reflection of Poll Everywhere’s 4DWW experiment, I noted that the negative impacts of an unsupported workforce on productivity, retention, creativity, engagement, performance and absenteeism can be far more costly than an investment in employee mental health. It is time to close the gap between employee expectations and employer actions by leveraging technology that can scale to be an integral part of the employee experience.

Now that we have discussed why companies need to prioritize mental health, we will dive into how. Rome was not built in a day nor should your new processes.

Step 1: Listen to your employees and provide reciprocal feedback. Not only do employees want to know that they are being heard, but they also want to receive detailed assessments of their performance. While giving feedback can be challenging, even when your company promotes radical candor, it is vital for employee engagement. One method of securing feedback is holding an all-hands retrospective meeting. If anonymity is desired, create live activities with anonymous submissions enabled or send out an employee survey to encourage individuals to freely speak their minds. Additionally, Poll Everywhere provides an easy pinned Q&A option.

Step 2: Coordinate with executive leadership. Once you have gathered ample employee input, discuss the findings and determine next steps. The feedback you have received from employees is data, and data is only valuable once it is put to use.

Step 3. Send a company-wide email explaining the approach. Outline the key pain points and next steps to address them. From there, a steady cadence of communication with your teams will improve engagement and ensure they are included in the process of improving the company’s outlook and policies around mental health.

Step 4. Evaluate and set goals. Goals make a program digestible and measurable. Individuals need to know what they are working towards and be able to eventually evaluate the program’s progress. Creating an area where employees can consistently update feedback allows for continuous insight into the program’s impact.

Focusing on mental health will lead to productivity naturally; however, it is important to note that while productivity garners results, it should not be the main focus. To further enhance your teams’ productivity, alongside improving the company’s mental health and wellness culture, teams can meet asynchronously to empower employees to spend more time on value-adding tasks. Additionally, amplifying your teams’ project management skills and processes will provide increased visibility; therefore enabling improved timelines and time management.

Ultimately, the best investment your company can make is in your employees. By placing new emphasis on rebranding your workplace culture and focusing your efforts on understanding the needs of individual employees, you can start closing the gap in workplace wellness. It is time for employers to consider the growth and success of their employees as they develop innovative, employee-centric business models.