Guest Column

Five ways to promote emotional well-being in the workplace during the holidays

December 21, 2018
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The hustle and bustle of the holidays are upon us! We find our calendars loaded with parties, potlucks, family events, holiday merriment — suddenly the “most wonderful time of the year” is wonderfully stressful and emotionally draining. Many employers focus on physical well-being during the holidays but, during the gift-giving season, don’t forget to give your employees ways to improve emotional well-being.

What is emotional well-being?

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, “mental and emotional well-being are essential to overall health.” Having stable mental health helps individuals manage stress, realize their potential and contribute to their communities in a positive way. Conversely, poor mental health — often demonstrated as anxiety or other mood disorders — is associated with increased risk of chronic health conditions and unhealthy behaviors, like obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, violence, alcohol use and smoking.

Why does it matter in the workplace?

A shift from focusing on physical well-being, which tends to be the primary focus as it’s far easier to measure over time with biometrics, and toward emotional well-being may not seem as fruitful of an endeavor. However, emotionally healthy employees are more resilient, able to cope with stress, can manage conflicts with less difficulty and have greater problem-solving abilities.

This translates to reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, increased ability to work effectively and better rapport with team members. Increased productivity coupled with happy, engaged and creative employees are essential to the success of an organization. It all boils down to one simple concept: those who feel good about themselves perform better.

We understand that employers today are recognizing the total value on investment of well-being in their employees. That’s why our well-being offering, PriorityWell, helps employers deliver a personalized well-being experience, helping each employee achieve their own personal goals while creating a healthier, more productive place to work.

Put emotional well-being into practice

Luckily, the holiday season brings ample opportunities to pursue employee health and well-being. Here are five simple ways to bring joy (and promote emotional well-being) in the workplace:

1. Promote an attitude of gratitude. Saying “thank you” to your employees doesn’t need to be costly. It doesn’t need to be a big holiday bonus or a jelly of the month club membership. Recognition for a job well done just needs to be genuine. This could include something as simple as encouraging shoutouts and recognition in meetings, dropping a thank you in a gratitude jar or even running an “attitude of gratitude” challenge. The best part? Saying thank you and building a culture of appreciation is valuable year-round.

2. Encourage giving the gift of time. The holidays are really all about one thing: making memories with those who matter most. Implement a “gift of time” challenge where participants must give at least 10 minutes of their undivided attention to a loved one each day. Those who complete the challenge successfully could be entered into a drawing for a prize. Remember, time is the one gift that cannot be bought, exchanged or returned.

3. Do good, feel good. Encourage and organize volunteer opportunities for your team. Volunteering is a great way to give to organizations and promote team building at the same time. Individuals who volunteer report increased mood and self-esteem. The reason why is interesting: doing good releases feel-good chemicals into your body.

4. Laugh, smile and be silly. Speaking of feel-good chemicals, laughter is a proven way to release endorphins and create a healthy buzz. Think of ways to have fun in the workplace this season. Things like an ugly sweater day, holiday desk decorating contest or a potluck showcasing your family’s traditional holiday dishes are all opportunities to build camaraderie and give us reasons to laugh, smile and enjoy the day.

5. Make sure your health plan covers mental health services. Encourage and promote the use of these resources year-round.

Above all, remember that when your team members are at their best, they are able to share their joy and unique talents with others — that’s the real gift.

Rebecca Mason, RD, is a registered dietitian, and health and wellness coordinator in the Wellness Department at Priority Health. She is certified in adult weight management and has a background in both clinical nutrition and wellness programming.

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