Mental Health Awareness: Being ‘Mindful’ at Work

Sign saying Self Care Isn't Selfish - Mental Health Awareness at Work

This is a Mental Health Awareness Week with a difference.  With the unprecedented levels of change and anxiety about the impact of Coronavirus on our loved ones, on the economy and country as a whole, Lucie, Octopus Personnel Recruitment Consultant, describes 4 ways to promote good mental health during this time and to use mindfulness to support your team.

You and your team have probably faced significant adjustments to your working environment, whether you are now working from home or following social distancing rules in the workplace.  Although there are emotional and practical challenges to handle with both of these scenarios, your whole team can benefit from a mindful approach to work and this week is a great time to reconnect with your team members to make sure everyone is connected and managing the ‘new normal’.

1. Be mindful of your time

Without the normal signals of the day, such as face-to-face meetings, lunch outings, making a cup of tea for everyone in the office, the day can seem to blur into one long slog.  It is very tempting to start answering your work emails on your phone from the moment you wake up, and hard to ‘finish’ at the end of the day, meaning many are working longer, but not necessarily more productive hours.

Without these rhythmic breaks to the day, many of us can feel fatigued and burnt-out.  So how can we bring mental health awareness to the forefront and use mindfulness to help us adjust to this ‘new normal’?

In its simplest form, mindfulness means awareness. Practising mindfulness offers a way to pay attention to the present moment. This awareness of ourselves and the world around us can improve our mental wellbeing. Slowing down can feel against common sense, but in some ways, it’s the kind of recharging you need most to get even more done. Mindful employees are well employees!  Taking breaks throughout the day is key to being productive, and you can help shape your team’s day to embed these habits.

Image showing an alarm clock - Be mindful of time - Mental Health Awareness at Work

If you want your employees to be mindful and take breaks, you can use your schedule to show it’s a priority. Allocate slots for ‘taking lunch’, making sure people are stepping away from their work.  Book zoom lunches were your team can socialise.  Encourage them to take a walk or go into the garden to have a little quiet time to regroup.  Be firm about start and finish times and thank your team for their hard work and make sure they sign off.  Open up a discussion about what works to help them switch off.

Lead by example and help normalise taking breaks from work or getting outside for short strolls: during lunch breaks, in the morning before checking emails, or even while on calls.  Productivity will increase.  When getting outside isn’t feasible for all of your team, share some movement and exercise videos to get short bursts of movement throughout the day.  Get them moving with Joe Wicks in the morning – hilarious if you do it as a team over Zoom.   Ask everyone to track how far the walk/run in a week and add it all together to see where in the world the team could have reached this week.

Wherever possible, offer flexible working.  Use Project Management tools, such Microsoft Teams or Basecamp, to provide real-time solutions for team members working remotely. Allowing team members to adapt their hours, making employees feel valued and, in turn, produce even better work. As a parent during this pandemic, your childcare duties don’t stop when you sit down at your desk for work in the morning. A family-friendly work approach is vital to get the best from your employees.  Listen carefully to their needs, understand the challenges faced by working parents, be open to their solutions which balance business needs and their childcare demands.

2.  Stay connected: being together whilst apart

Whether social distancing in the workplace, or working from home, one of the biggest challenges facing us in the ‘new normal’ is the feeling of isolation, a definite focus for mental health awareness.  There has never been a more important time to work on team bonding, despite the social distance.  “No work talk” social hangouts, Friday team drinks, quizzes and find me a picture of you (when you were six, of you walking outside, of your favourite hobby…) can promote easy discussion, help your team bond and help them connect to times and activities which brought them pleasure before.  Get to know everyone properly and you’ll get the best from them.

Image of a man outside on a conference call on a laptop - Stay connected - Mental Health Awareness at Work

Be curious and open up discussions about how this new situation is working for everyone.  Review the approach you have taken so far and listen carefully to comments and suggestions from your team.  Listening to your employees is vital. Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.  Listening to your employees is at the forefront of ensuring equality and inclusiveness in the workplace – and getting the best from everyone!

We do our best work when our mind and body are at ease.  When it’s your turn to share, show your mental health awareness  and keep the mindful focus with educational resources such as mindfulness apps to download, share your tips on creating the right environment for the right work mode and use little prompt cards/notes you can share remotely on quick mindful exercises. Empower your employees with my 5 Simple Ways to improve your Well-being, reduce Work Stress and increase Productivity blog here.  Encourage your team to find a couple of places that provide comfortable working space if they are working from home.  Changing where you are working during the day is a simple way of resetting your mind.

3. Recognition matters: get creative

Perhaps even more vital than before, recognition for hard work and effort is vital in these times.  Feedback and recognition should always tie back to a company’s core values and mission. Employees want to be reminded that their work has purpose and meaning – making a difference makes you happy!

You are already probably excellent at recognising your team’s effort, but make sure your praise is specific and public. Praise them, nominate them for awards and publicly say that you’re grateful for their work. It motivates them to do more great work and will pay off in the company’s success.  This is no less true now.  Use the praise function on teams.  Make it specific, genuine and talk about impact.  Share larger gains on your company’s social media.  Recognise those individuals with foresight who are driving the company forward.

Image of a smiling face icon in a frame - Recognition matters - Mental Health Awareness at Work

4. Be a role model: engage and lead

Finally, model the right thing! If you want your team to keep their focus on mental health awareness, you need to make sure you are making those healthy choices too! It’s really important to encourage employees to be self-aware about their own personalities and tendencies, as some people are more prone to imbalances and stress than others. Through your words, actions, and example, emphasise the need to continually assess one’s goals to determine what brings satisfaction, inner peace, and balance. Empowering your employees to take control over their work and home lives can have a profound impact on their job satisfaction and performance, enabling you to do what’s best and most effective for your company.

Image of Dorset Coastline - Be a role model - Mental Health Awareness at Work

Show how much you value your team and re-energise and engage them through CPD. Investing in the team in this way during this time gives you a more dynamic and cohesive team for the challenges ahead, ensures they remain invested in the business and provides a change in pace which often helps employees see their work, and find their motivation, in new ways.  Be their coach.  Develop their strengths and help them improve with weaknesses.

Have I convinced you? What have you got to lose?

Infographic showing 4 Business Benefits of Recruiting through Octopus Personnel

At Octopus Personnel, we take the well-being of our staff and candidates seriously. Years of industry expertise, a healthy dose of mindfulness and outstanding relationships with our clients, and grasp of the needs of their business, means we are perfectly positioned within the market to the right employee who will drive your business forward. Explore our services here or call the office on 01747 825568 to find out how we can support your staffing needs, be they temporary or permanent.

Erin Belmont

About the author

I look after the marketing for Octopus – from the social media and website you see online to the events we put on throughout the year.

I love being in the middle of things, soaking up the lively dynamic atmosphere. The team at Octopus really care about our job searchers and clients and do everything they can to understand everyone’s needs and make intelligent and productive job matches. Their drive and fun loving spirit inspire me every day!