Mental Health Awareness Month: Programs, culture shifts and gentle reminders

May 26th, 2022
Marci Haabestad, Interim CHRO

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which serves as a great reminder for everyone to pause and take an inventory of our physical, mental, and emotional health. This year at HireVue, we wanted to remind employees about the programs available to them, as well as a few cultural reminders that will contribute to better health.

Some mental health programs require significant monetary investments (e.g. top notch health insurance) but there are cultural mandates like the ones we shared that cost your company nothing, but give your employees priceless breathing room.

I know that in my role as a senior HR leader, I’m always looking to my peers for valuable insights into how they conduct business, so I thought it would be helpful to share our internal message and takeaways that can be applied at businesses of all kinds:

We don’t glorify over-work

“There are peak times when work is more hectic than others and requires more time than usual but constant hustle and grind at the expense of your friends, family and hobbies is not something we expect from any of our team members. If you find yourself constantly working before and after hours, dialing in even when you’re sick or on vacation, it’s vital we find a way to bring balance to your workload. Please reach out to your HR Business Partner or your manager so we can get your schedule back in alignment and help to prevent burnout.”

The takeaway

It goes a long way to remind your team that balance isn’t the exception but the norm in your workplace. A small tactical thing our CEO, Anthony Reynolds does is include an asterisk on emails that indicates when it was sent with auto-send: *This email was sent with auto-send to accommodate our global team – I’m not working right now.

Take breaks and schedule breathing room between Zooms

“Working from home can sometimes make home feel like constant work if you don’t take breaks. Remember to schedule time for yourself – take a walk with your dog, a quick ride on the Peloton, or drink some tea on your fire escape. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to block your calendar for breathing room between Zooms. Also, I encourage you to look for opportunities to do walking calls off Zoom. This can be a 1:1 or even a group internal call where you don't necessarily need to be at your desk. It’s great to get out and take a walk while you talk to clear your head and get a break from all that sitting.”

The takeaway

Some durations of break time are mandated by law for hourly workers. Regardless of work status, bring up break time as a part of your culture. Did you just get out of a back-to-back meeting session? Log on and tell your teammates you need to pop out of the room to refresh your water and then rejoin. This is especially impactful when it comes from leaders.

Use your PTO, plan for upcoming company breaks and use Half Day Fridays

“Whether you’re an hourly or salaried employee, we want to make sure you’re taking time to rest and recharge by using your available PTO. Please work with your manager to get days off on your calendar.

Remember that we’re doing a July and December break this year (July 1st - 5th & December 26th - 30th). For our frontline employees, your managers will work with you to ensure that you receive commensurate time off too. Lastly, remember to respect time differences and take advantage of Half Day Fridays!”

The takeaway

We’ve implemented a combination of Half Day Fridays and synchronized shutdowns in addition to our flexible PTO – but these programs are a lost investment if employees aren’t taking advantage of them. Remind your teams to respect calendar blocks and engage in good vacation behavior. Resting and recharging is good for productivity and personal well-being.

Use your available benefit programs

“Our list of benefit programs keeps growing and we want to make sure you’re taking every opportunity to create a healthy, balanced life. Some current programs include: Employee EAP program Virtual LifeStyle program Learning opportunities

Please feel free to reach out to the People Success Team if you have any questions about existing programs or suggestions for how we can better support your mental health.”

The takeaway

The programs listed in this section represent a significant financial investment for the business and it would be a shame if our employees were neglecting to use them! Take every opportunity to evaluate which programs are being utilized and always keep lines of communication open to add additional benefits that align with employee needs.