How can employers show that they care about employees’ mental health?
Sometimes, making a monumental difference only requires minimal change. Tara Miskelly of M&C Saatchi drives this home with three achievable mental health initiatives.
78% of M&C Saatchi employees feel as comfortable talking to colleagues about their mental health as they would friends or family / Dustin Belt via Unsplash
After the busy holiday season, January can be a difficult month, putting strain on our mental health. After soaking up the festive joy and spending time with loved ones, it’s difficult to return to reality. Experts say this month is also prime time for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that is estimated to affect 10 million people in the United States and can be prompted by the colder weather and fewer daylight hours. It’s no wonder what’s considered the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday, falls within this month.
Returning to work post-holidays can be particularly difficult, with a new year bringing new demands. We may not always feel supported or able to have difficult yet important conversations about mental health at work. According to a recent survey, 74% of employees reported wanting their employer to care about their mental health, but only half (53%) felt that they actually do.
At M&C Saatchi One-to-One we recognize this; we have been taking tangible steps to create a more positive, mental-health-aware environment at work. Spearheaded by Adam Reader, senior vice-president and head of strategy, and myself, here are three initiatives we’ve introduced to the business.
1. 'Mental health mornings'
We launched this mental health initiative in 2022, with 30-minute mental health mornings once a week. Here, all team members can connect and check in with each other before a day of work and kickstart the day on an empowering note.
Our team particularly enjoyed these meetings. We’re continuing to do them on a bi-weekly basis to ensure we all get facetime (both in person and remotely), checking in with each other to have open conversations about how we’re feeling.
2. Self-care reminders
It can be hard to prioritize your mental health, particularly when you’re busy. We wanted to encourage our team to look after themselves, especially during hectic work periods. To do so, we shared little nudges designed to promote positive mental health habits: ‘get up and stretch for five minutes’, ‘drink some water’, ‘get outside', and more.
These reminders and tips proved to be fruitful; nearly 80% of employees said it was their favorite activity when we launched our mental health initiative in Spring 2022. We continue to provide these nudges to remind people to take care of themselves – even if it’s just doing something small for five minutes.
3. Mental health resource pack
At M&C Saatchi One-to-One, we felt it was important to kickstart our mental health initiative with a mental health resource pack to educate our team on the stats around mental health and where they could go to seek help within the company, as well as outside of work. This includes helplines and details on upcoming mental health charity events, and is refreshed every quarter to ensure the information is as up-to-date as possible.
What do our employees think?
Launching our mental health initiative proved a great success, with around 90% of employees feeling the initiatives helped open the conversation of mental health.
A standout result from employee feedback, all of which was submitted anonymously, was that around 78% of the team felt as comfortable talking about their mental health with colleagues as they would with friends and family.
We’re continuing to listen to and trial suggestions from our team on how we can create an even more positive work environment, and hoping to organize a mini speaker series in the coming months.
Junior strategist Madeline Madden said: "when the Mental Health Month initiative was launched, I was so excited to know this was something my company was prioritizing and vocalizing. Knowing the company I work for cares about me as a human being allows me to be open and transparent about what is and isn’t working for me".
Senior strategist Hannah Kaplan reiterated the importance of the initiative, saying: "M&C Saatchi One-to-One's prioritization of mental wellbeing has certainly resulted in clearer heads, impacting client-facing work, but has also allowed for healthier professional relationships built on trust and understanding".
"We are all continually learning and adjusting to ensure we foster a culture where mental health awareness is part of our everyday life", said Georgia Graham-Leigh, managing director. "This has been an employee-devised and -led initiative which has really enabled us to authentically respond to the needs of everyone within our community". With the work we’re doing, we’re beating the winter blues and turning this month into an exciting, positive, and prospective one.
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M&C Saatchi Group
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