We’ve talked a lot about corporate wellness lately, from the rise of the chief wellness officer to incentivizing company health culture to attract talent. However, there is one area that we haven’t touched upon, one that can promote these new and important ideals within even small companies: the human resources department.
HR’s role often extends beyond managing recruitment and benchmarking performance evaluation, with many departments additionally acting as mediators and issuing company-wide policies. Companies now view employee wellness as a strategy, not simply a nice to have. How we work and where we work are continually evolving and what work looks like is different as a result of the Pandemic. Aside from the expected, there are numerous ways that HR can promote employee mental and physical health (beyond passing out OSHA guidelines to combat carpal tunnel).
Here is how we think HR can go from employees’ basic support to employees’ biggest supporters.
Incorporate wellness into existing initiatives.
Fostering a healthy environment doesn’t mean starting from square one. There are plenty of ways to incorporate wellness into existing initiatives. We love the idea of designating some vacation or sick time off as specific mental health days, which gives employees the assurance that their mental health is both recognized and valued. Adding wellness perks such as gym memberships or pedometers into existing benefits packages can also foster a healthier corporate culture. Companies across the country are actively looking for ways to bring mental, physical, and social well-being into their employees lives. Wellness benefits go beyond the traditional gym memberships and health snack options in the break room.
The business of gardening for wellness is a big opportunity and Gardenuity is the conduit bringing these two opportunities together. “We have been working with companies like Uber, Salesforce, and Cigna bringing gardening experiences to their teams.” Doug Platts COO Gardenuity. “It’s a fresh way to bring the mental, physical, and social benefits of gardening to employees. The conversations are engaging, the experiences are fun, and the gardens are lasting reminders of the importance the company places on employee well-being.” Gardenuity corporate gardening programs include; gifting gardens, Cut-to-Cocktail Garden Workshop, Patio-To-Plate (think Food as Medicine) Garden Workshops to Growing Greatness Celebrating the Growth Mindset Garden Workshop.
Create an environment of openness around mental health.
One of the biggest barriers to treating mental health issues is reticence to discuss personal struggles. HR can combat this by openly acknowledging that mental health exists and actively incorporating wellness into company daily life. Adding language about psychological wellbeing into employee onboarding packets is a start, but we recommend thinking outside the box. Scheduling morning meditations, promoting a certain amount of time outside each day, or hosting a speaker series with mental health professionals promote the idea HR knows about potential struggles and wants to be there for employees who may be going through them.
Provide health resources.
All HR departments should have a list of resources that includes local therapists that take company insurance, crisis hotlines, and information about local hospitals. This, ideally, would be readily available for employees to view without having to speak with a coworker so as to not compromise privacy.
Open the door.
Feeling alone or abandoned during health struggles can be debilitating. Letting employees know that there is someone on staff to help them if something should arise is maybe the most important item on this list. HR should have an open-door policy in case of an issue and should provide training on empathy and mental health screening to best serve those in need.
That said, HR should also be prepared in case an employee does show up in crisis. Having an established safety plan among the department is imperative. A good plan would include necessary internal company and outside phone numbers, a chain of command in case of emergency, and even sample scripts to help any member of the department to communicate effectively regardless of job title.
How is your HR department looking out for employee health?