As I write this it has officially been 1 year since we entered the pandemic.  So much has changed, transformed, and required people, organizations, and communities to rethink the way we work and conduct day-to-day activities.  While protocols, processes, and practices have been put into place to protect us from Covid up to and including vaccines the lasting effects of this past year are yet to be seen.  What is clear is that there is a great need to support each other and our organizations in their journeys around mental and emotional wellbeing.  McKinsey is reporting that almost 41% of Americans struggle with mental health issues stemming from the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Harvard Business Review reports that in a Fall 2020 wellbeing survey 85% of respondents noted a decline in their overall wellbeing with 50% noting a decline in their own mental health. 

Here are three ways you can approach supporting wellbeing within your own organization.

  1. Upskill your leaders.
  2. Identify your partners.
  3. Create opportunities for wellbeing within your programming.

Upskill Your Leaders

  1. How to check in with staff members about wellbeing and what to look for and how to act on it.  

This could mean connecting people with resources but it could also mean needing to look at processes, prioritizing workload, or insisting people take some much needed time off.

2. Techniques and tools they can leverage to take care of themselves.

We placed a special emphasis on mindfulness tools.

3. What they can do to create an environment for people to practice their own wellbeing, and being open about it with them.

4. Listening!  This cannot be emphasized enough.  The podcast from Your Brain at Work does a nice job of describing what listening deeply means. 

We approached delivery of training this in a multitude of ways.  We incorporated this training into our organizational virtual management forums, optional Webex training sessions, created a Wellbeing & Resiliency toolkit on our intranet page, sent out short videos via our organizational newsletters, and had our HR team share resources and training in their local meetings.  

Identify Your Partners

Wellbeing probably isn’t a new topic within your organization and there are a multitude of resources for you to leverage. Some great places to start include:

  1. Your EAS or EAP team

They may have content you can pull from the shelf and utilize and may also be able to provide additional perspectives and resources.

2. Your Health Plan & Benefit Partners

There are probably resources within your health plan that are under utilized that individuals might not have an awareness of or know how to access.  As an example we launched a new program in our Health Plan this year that offered virtual visits with a Therapist/Psychiatrist for minimal cost.  We also found that our Life Insurance company we worked with offered numerous resources that had already been curated and organized that we could offer up to our team.  The key was ensuring that we clearly shared what the resources were and how to access them.

3. Places within your community that support wellbeing

We looked at wellbeing from numerous angles and as a result formed great local partnerships.  One being with a local yoga studio to create short videos and audio files specifically targeted towards stress, trauma, and grieving.  The other partnership was with a local art museum to obtain Art kits so our team members could use creativity as a mode for stress relief.   

Create Opportunities within Your Programming

  1. Orientation and Onboarding:

The orientation and onboarding process is a great place to introduce resources and share the organizational perspective on how wellbeing is supported – beyond what programming you have in your health plan. 

2. Leadership Development:

Utilize your upskill content into your leader onboarding and leader development programs.  We’ve built in targeted sessions on Wellbeing and Resiliency into our Executive Development programming as well as our New Leader Orientation and Core Leader Development programming to ensure that we were capturing new and emerging leaders.

3. Optional Opportunities:

Discussion Circles, optional virtual learning sessions, and a wellbeing toolkit on your intranet are all strategies that we employed. We took the concept of doing a book club and turned them into discussion circles targeted towards certain audiences to provide a platform for individuals to connect.  We started with a Women’s Discussion Circle on Stress & Burnout.

In many ways the pandemic and this last year have provided us all with a unique opportunity to support our organizations.  As practitioners in the field of learning and development we have a skillset that allows us to easily curate, make connections, and reach the masses by simply leveraging the processes we already know and have in place.

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