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Todd Whitthorne of Naturally Slim: 5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote the Mental Wellness Of Their Employees

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Todd Whitthorne of Naturally Slim: 5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote the Mental Wellness Of Their Employees

Apr 05, 2021
Authority Magazine « Back to The Skinny

  1. Quantify the problem. The best way to identify the scope of the issue within your organization is to ask via a confidential employee survey. Even though everyone has been impacted, at least to some degree, by the pandemic, not everyone has had the same experience or reaction. For instance, we know that some people now really enjoy working from home while others are extremely eager to return to the office. Feelings, whether positive or negative, are real, and we need to understand that not everyone has the same feelings that you do and it’s okay not to feel okay. We all have been in the same storm, but it’s very important to recognize each and every one of us are in different boats.
  2. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Long before anyone had even heard of COVID or Corona, loneliness was a significant issue. In 2017, over 40% of Americans reported feeling lonely, although research indicates that number may be much higher. According to The Harvard Business Review, “Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.” Well, guess what? Quarantine has obviously increased loneliness because of forced isolation. While for many, working from home has been a plus, for others, it has been unbearable. As Dr. Brene Brown points out, humans are hardwired to connect, and the past 12 months have certainly limited our ability to do that. Employers need to recognize that Zoom meetings are not a replacement for traditional office interaction which includes short conversations in the break room or “micro-meetings” that take place in the hallway. Managers should dedicate time to reach out to employees individually and ask, “How are you doing?”, and then really listen to the answer. Most of your employees will appreciate the effort, and I promise you’ll be surprised by what you learn.
  3. Be intentional about “signaling.” Ignoring the impact of the past 12–18 months is not a good idea. Organizations need to let their employees know “they get it” and then signal their desire to help by making available a variety of solutions for those who might need it…i.e. employee assistance programs (EAPs), wellbeing offerings, recognition programs, etc. Studies indicate that even those employees who don’t need or take advantage of the programs feel better about their organization when those types of solutions are offered. We’re all human and appreciate when we know that our employer cares.
  4. Understand that emotional health and physical health are absolutely intertwined. Don’t focus on just one while ignoring the other. In my role at Naturally Slim, I see on an almost a daily basis how helping individuals move in a positive direction with their weight, sleep, physical activity and resilience leads directly to more joy, confidence, energy and gratitude!
What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?
Employees can’t pour from an empty cup and they need to realize that no one has more influence on their own health than themselves. But, it’s important for employers to play a role in supporting them by regularly keeping up with industry data and understanding how employees’ evolving concerns and feelings could impact their wellbeing as well as the business’ bottom line. By looking at the latest data, knowing how the current environment may be impacting employees and distilling that data down for the average employee/American to help improve their quality of life, employers can raise awareness internally about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees. Better yet, employers can distribute their own internal surveys on a regular basis to get personalized data and insight from their own employees about how they’re feeling, and from there, gauge whether they need more mental wellness support. Checking in with employees 1:1, seeing how they are doing and making sure they feel supported is also critical.
From your experience or research, what are different steps that each of us as individuals, as a community and as a society, can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling stressed, depressed, anxious and having other mental health issues? Can you explain?

We now have published data which supports what we’ve long suspected… The COVID pandemic has significantly impacted both physical and emotional health. A recent study by the American Psychological Association shows in the past year, 42% of Americans have gained weight (average 29 lbs), 23% are drinking more alcohol to cope, 48% of parents are feeling more stressed, and overall mental health has worsened (9% for older adults (75 years+) up to 46% for Gen Z (18–24 years old)).

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