Wellness at Work

Focusing on your team’s mental health

Spa retailers are in the business of relaxation and well-being. As such, it’s easy to focus on customer wellness — but how often do you think about the mental well-being of your employees?

On Saturday nights after his store has closed for the day, Dave Wooldridge, president of Two Men and a Spa Dolly in Arnold, Missouri, invites his employees to unwind in the showroom model hot tubs.

Some work out in the swim spas; others sit and chat in hot tubs. It’s a way for them to relax after a long work week, Wooldridge says.

“They might learn something while they’re sitting in it,” Woodridge says. “It’s a good way for them to get into the hot tub and see what it’s like.”

It also lets employees blow off steam in a healthy way. After he spent 40 years in corporate America, Wooldridge learned how burnout, stress and other mental health issues weigh workers down. While his approach is casual, Wooldridge says he believes in the importance of employees taking time for themselves. A positive attitude, healthy mindset and relaxed work environment matter to him.

“I like to get them started on the right foot,” Wooldridge says. “Get them smiling and high fiving.” On Friday mornings, he gathers everyone for a team meeting and donuts. He passes out praises and connects with his crew.

“Everyone likes to stick around for the donuts on Friday mornings. You’d think we were giving them a million dollars or something,” he jokes.

Dr. Tasha Holland-Kornegay, a North Carolina–based clinical mental health counselor, says it’s important for companies to engage workers in mental health conversations.

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“We spend a lot of our lives working, so it’s important to create an open work environment where we can all be honest about how mental health plays into our work,” she says, noting that includes anxiety, stress and other mental health concerns. “One great way to do this is to implement mental health awareness into workplace policies.”

Easy Ways to Boost Employee Well-Being
Practice Mindfulness
“Being mindful is to be consciously present in what you're doing, while you're doing it, as well as managing your mental and emotional state. The workplace is a great environment to practice mindfulness. We are managing our workloads, the stress of deadlines, meetings, new remote offices, our personal lives and the world around us; that is not always easy to do. Being able to step back and breathe to reset is a powerful tool that takes practice.” Crystal Lengua, director of sales and marketing, SMP | Ultralift
Connect with Your Crew
“We have a staff meeting for 15 to 20 minutes every Friday morning. We buy donuts for the guys, share congratulatory things customers have said about the crew, and go over any hiccups. We try to give kudos as well as constructive criticism.” Dave Wooldridge, president, Two Men and A Spa Dolly
Encourage Team Building Opportunities
“There's a pretty active team-building activity trend going on in the corporate world [that] can give employees an excuse to talk and work together in ways that business-as-usual wouldn't normally encourage. Plenty of activities can be found online for businesses of any size or budget.” Dr. Tasha Holland- Kornegay, clinical mental health counselor and founder of Wellness in Real Life

For instance, when employees are encouraged to use their vacation time to maintain overall wellness, an employee who feels burned out may feel it’s acceptable to take time off.

“In this way, some top-down policies can make the peer environment more open to [mental health] discussions,” she says. “Even in modern workplaces, it’s rare employees feel comfortable disclosing information regarding their mental health. However, having honest and open discussions about these topics can greatly benefit the individual and business by creating a culture in which employees can be as comfortable, confident and productive as possible.”

She also notes there’s not a cookie-cutter approach for workplaces when it comes to discussing mental health and wellness. “More important than having wellness-boosting products and services is encouraging healthy usage of them,” Holland-Kornegay explains. “While any business with enough money to spare can give their employees impressive luxuries, if their work schedule doesn’t let employees use them, it doesn’t mean much.”

Instead, she says, integrate downtime into the workday: Coordinate coffee breaks and have informal group discussions about the latest streaming show, or host meditation or yoga classes. “The key is to get people together so they can relax or have some fun before working again,” Holland-Kornegay says.

SMP | Ultralift, a Canada-based metal products and cover lifter company, has a massage chair in its boardroom as well as a gym for employees, says Crystal Lengua, director of sales and marketing. The company also offers therapy visits and 24-hour virtual healthcare. Working from home is encouraged, as is taking vacation time. Pre-COVID-19, the team gathered at monthly summer BBQs where they’d play games, listen to music and chat. Once social distancing kicked in, they still connected for lunches and included remote team members on Friday morning calls.

Part of bringing awareness to employee mental health comes down to having conversations about it, Lengua says, who is studying for a mindfulness meditation certification. Throughout the pandemic, she shared meditations with colleagues to encourage mental well-being. Holland-Kornegay says companies should acknowledge that achieving a culture that encourages open conversations about mental health is a constant battle. “If everyone chips in to keep the workplace safe and nontoxic, and it isn’t just coming from the top-down, maintaining a healthy workplace culture will be more resilient to outside circumstances, such as the barrage of bad news that has so far marked 2020,” she says. “When workplaces normalize these conversations, employee wellness can be greatly improved.”