From work to money to politics, nearly two-thirds of Americans are stressed. And unmanaged, stress can lead to more severe issues like depression or burnout. For both executives and employees alike, knowing how to build positive workplace environments can make a measurable difference. In today’s world where employee retention is the name of the game, enter HR.
More than rule enforcers, today’s HR professionals are increasingly taking responsibility for nurturing positive workplace cultures at every level, and managing stress and mental health can be a big part of that. For more insight on how to focus on mental wellness while maintaining productivity, we talked to CallRail’s Director of Talent and Culture, Whitney Hoffman-Bennett.
“The fact that my title is Talent and Culture and not just HR Director lends itself to the trend that is happening in companies now: they are taking a more holistic approach and being more considerate of the employee experience and wellness rather than just having a job.”
Bennett says the issues she primarily sees bubble up in the workplace are stress, work/life balance, and depression (which can often stem from financial worry and stress).
“Stress would be the top one,” Bennett said. “With technology, people no longer leave work at the office. It’s with them 24/7 and if it’s part of the company culture to always be available and on, it can lead to burnout.”
With a career rooted primarily in startups, Bennett said she has also witnessed the stress and work/life balance issues associated with founders, as well as employees going through life changes and having to change the way they work.
“[At startups], typically you have people that have grown up with the company,” Bennet said. “At the beginning people haven’t really gone through big life changes like marriage, babies, etc.”
Whether your stress stems from workload, finances, an evolving personal life or all of the above, managing mental health and work doesn’t have to be expensive or especially time-consuming. In fact, taking the time to work at your best rather than work the most hours could even improve your productivity. Here are three easy ways to get started.
Be cognizant of how much your people are working
For many entrepreneurs and perfectionists, it can feel like there is never a good stopping point in the work day and the mountain of work will never get done. If you’re having trouble leaving to eat or sleep, consider enforcing stopping points (like never working after 8 p.m.) Bennett advises focusing on what’s going well to reframe your perspective.
“A good way to change the way you think about things and not take your work home with you is to before you go home close your laptop and write down one to three good things that were accomplished that day,” Bennett said. “It can be really small but if you pick up that habit, it will move into other areas of your life (writing down something daily you are thankful for). I know it sounds cheesy but it can really have a positive effect on your mood and stress levels.”
Stop and meditate
Many of the top CEOs in the world do, and it’s no coincidence. Bennett says, while she can’t take credit for the practice, CallRail employees often start meetings using Headspace, a meditation app that “helps people kind of clear their minds and let their stresses go before jumping into the next thing.”
And there are plenty of these apps, including Atlanta-based Welzen, readily and affordably available on your phone.
Create a culture of compliments
Bennett says HR can be a stressful line of work, and something she has implemented in the past is a “snap cup.”
“Throughout the month people on my team recognize accomplishments of other team members,” Bennett said. “Then in our monthly staff meetings we read out all the accomplishments and celebrate our wins no matter how small.”
Bennett emphasizes the importance of making people feel valued and appreciated in their work so they are more likely to feel comfortable coming to you with concerns/problems before they’re out of hand.
Additionally, she says bringing positive attributes to the forefront helps relieve and even outweigh negative stress.