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Learn how FMs can implement mental health and wellness programs in the workplace.


By Myrna Traylor


As a facilities manager, you play a pivotal role in creating a workplace environment conducive to employee well-being. One of the most pressing issues in today's fast-paced work environment is mental health. With rising stress levels and increasing demands, it's crucial to implement effective mental health and wellness programs. These programs not only improve employee well-being but also enhance productivity, reduce absenteeism and create a positive work culture.


Understanding the Need for Mental Health Programs


Workplace stress is a significant concern that can lead to various mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and burnout. As facilities managers, it's essential to recognize these challenges and take proactive steps to address them.

Sabrina St. John, Imperial Cleaning
Sabrina St. John, Imperial Cleaning

Sabrina St. John is the Training and Development Specialist for Imperial Cleaning. In addition to running workshops on stress management in the workplace, her role covers employee health and safety. “Health and wellness are core values included in our performance reviews,” she said. “I am always urging our management to support wellness initiatives. There are so many health-related issues that impact our employees, and having resources to help would be valuable.”

Sherry Darden, CIRSBY, LLC
Sherry Darden, CIRSBY, LLC

Sherry Darden, CEO Growth Strategist at CIRSBY, LLC, consults with businesses on human resource issues and serves on the DEI committee for ConnexFM. She drills down into some of the challenges that FMs and their teams face to highlight why mental health support should get more attention. “COVID had many FMs remaining on the front lines of their businesses, and they had to forge ahead through everything. They weren't on automatic pilot — they were in survival mode and didn’t have time to address the implications of how stressful that was,” Darden said. “There were natural disasters, there were shootings — it’s only reasonable to expect some mental health support after that.”


Both Darden and St. John agree that, as a society, we have made great strides to destigmatize everyone’s need for mental health support and, at the same time, see that workplaces can contribute to employees’ wellness efforts. Here is a distillation of the benefits of such programs and some initiatives that you and your company may want to enact.


Key Benefits of Workplace Wellness Programs


  1. Stress Management: Offering monthly sessions on stress management can help employees understand what triggers stress, how to manage it effectively and ways to resolve workplace stress.

  2. Insurance Benefits: Some companies offer reduced insurance rates for employees who enroll in wellness programs, providing a financial incentive for participation.

  3. Engagement: Organizing wellness days and engaging activities can keep employees motivated and invested in their well-being.

  4. Comprehensive Support: Including newsletter articles on exercise, healthy recipes and safety tips can provide holistic support that extends beyond the workplace.

  5. Accessibility: Utilizing local resources for wellness can be cost-effective and beneficial for both large and small companies.


Implementing an Effective Mental Health Program


Monthly Topics and Activities


Each month, focus on a different aspect of mental health and stress management. Topics can include:


  • Identifying stress triggers

  • Techniques for managing stress

  • Conflict resolution in the workplace

  • Maintaining work-life balance


On-Site Wellness Days


Consider having a facilitator come in for wellness days. These events can include activities such as:


  • Mindfulness and meditation sessions

  • Physical fitness classes

  • Nutritional workshops

  • Stress-relief exercises


St. John mentions that one company she worked with was able to reduce their health insurance premiums when employees participated in a stress-reduction workshop.


Leveraging Technology


Incorporate wellness apps that employees can use in their daily lives. Some effective apps include:


  • Calm: For meditation and mindfulness

  • Sanvello: For stress and anxiety management

  • Personal Zen: For relaxation and mental well-being


Utilizing Local Resources


Look for wellness resources at the state, county or local level that can be shared with employees. These resources might include:


  • Free counseling services

  • Community fitness programs

  • Health workshops and seminars

 

Offering Incentives

 

To encourage participation, offer wellness incentives such as:

 

  • Discounts on gym memberships

  • Healthier options in the company cafeteria

  • Extra breaks for physical activity

  • Flexible work schedules to attend wellness programs


Large Companies


Large companies often have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that offers one-on-one counseling and comprehensive support. However, many employees may not be fully utilizing these services. FMs can increase awareness and encourage usage by:


  • Regularly communicating the benefits of the EAP

  • Offering testimonials from employees who have benefited from the program

  • Providing easy access to EAP resources

  • Reinforcing that all communications with the EAP are confidential


Small Companies


For smaller firms, implementing cost-effective wellness programs is essential. One success story includes a small business that partnered with local wellness providers to offer free workshops and seminars to their employees, resulting in improved employee morale and reduced stress levels. Darden described a quiet room set aside in the corporate headquarters of a major airline. “It had a noise-canceling machine and was a place where employees could decompress for a few minutes,” Darden said. “That doesn't cost a lot of money. If you want something that costs no money, give people time to go sit in their car.” Even though this was done at a large corporation, it’s something smaller companies could easily set up.


Implementing mental health and wellness programs in the workplace is not just a “good-to-have” but a necessity for creating a thriving work environment. As FMs, you can influence and promote these initiatives. By focusing on stress management, leveraging local resources and offering engaging activities, you can significantly improve the mental well-being of your employees — and yourself.


Check out ConnexFM's recent Virtual Learning Experience discussing mental health in the workplace.

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