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BLOG | MAY 2024

Establishing a Culture Where Employees Thrive

For people to do their best work, employers must create a culture that fosters emotional and mental well-being.

Shauna McQueen, MS RD
Director, Nutrition and Well-being

Workplace well-being efforts are at an evolution point; yesterday’s programs that focus on weight loss, blood pressure, and smoking cessation just don’t cut it.

Today’s employees want their employer to recognize a more holistic view of well-being one that goes beyond physical health to foster the mental and emotional well-being that helps them thrive. As we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to take inventory of your workplace mental well-being strategy.

The Impact of Workplace Stress

As many of us are all too familiar with, work can be a significant source of life stress. A typical adult will spend about one third of their life engaged in work, and the impact of those stressful hours doesn’t stop when the clock hits five.

The compounding negative factors caused by stress makes us less healthy and happy at work and beyond. Chronic stress leads to physiological changes in the body, leaving us more susceptible to illness and disease, poor sleep quality, a less nutritious diet, decreased motivation for movement, and changes in mood. When employees enjoy their roles and experience less stress, they’re more than twice as likely to thrive in all areas of their lives.

Making Changes for a Thriving Culture

To counteract current trends, employers have a responsibility to safeguard the mental health of their employees through good policy, a healthy culture, and an environment that promotes well-being. It’s not just a good moral practice it makes for stronger teams, a resilient and productive business, and more loyal employees. Workplace culture is developed in subtle ways through daily behaviors and activities; policy, programming, and environment all play an essential role in helping employees thrive.

1. Policy

Growing policy trends include things like four-day workweeks, mental health days, longer parental leaves, access to mental health counseling, student loan repayment support, and volunteer days. These policies set the framework for a “thrive culture” to develop; they also help establish boundaries that support work/life balance, ensure a safe and inclusive workplace, and assist employees in planning for their futures.

2. Programming

Bringing a space to life through programming helps create a culture of well-being. Events that bring people together facilitate workplace friendships which positively impact business outcomes (whether those relationships are established virtually or in person). Webinars, workshops, on-site pop-ups, movement classes, awareness campaigns/challenges, team-building activities, and celebrations all provide opportunities to create joy, build relationships, relieve stress, and generate meaningful engagement

3. Environment

Physical space can be a major influence on human behaviors the right lighting improves concentration, a well-organized food display influences our purchasing habits, beautiful spaces boost creativity, and exposure to green space lowers stress. An environment that aligns with the needs of employees is critical for the development of a thriving culture that allows people to be at their best in the workplace.

While establishing these three factors is essential, an employee-focused culture is also built through everyday behaviors and actions like practicing kindness, expressing empathy, and praising and recognizing employees’ efforts. As you explore your mental well-being strategies, be sure to include these as well.

Contact us to discover more about how you can create a better environment and drive better outcomes for your employees.

About the Author

Shauna McQueen, MS RD

Director, Nutrition and Well-being