5 Most Effective Ways to Spend a Mental Health Day

Canadians are under a lot of stress. In fact, one in four Canadians say they have left a job due to stress. Statistics Canada states that 23 percent of those at least 15 years old report most days are quite stressful, and that figure rises to 30 percent for those between 35 to 54.

Taking an occasional day off for mental health purposes might be the best way to combat rising stress levels and the damage they work on your mental and physical health.

More Attention to Employee Wellness Is Needed in the Workplace

According to the Staples 2019 Canadian Workplace Survey, mental health days are common among a subset of the population, with 35 percent of employees admitting to taking mental health days. Women outnumber men in this statistic by 44 versus 26 percent. Additionally, four out of five people surveyed say employers should take responsibility for employees’ physical and mental well-being.

Best Ways to Spend a Mental Health Day

Here are the most effective ways to spend a mental health day.

  • Do Nothing. Be content to relax the entire day, without stressing about what you aren’t doing. The peace of mind you receive will leave you feeling recharged when you return to work.
  • Listen To Music. Music helps you slow your heart rate, which can lower blood pressure, so throw on some tunes as you enjoy your day away.
  • Stop Watching The Clock. Clocks on cell phones, computers and our walls constantly remind us of what we aren’t doing. Try to ignore the pull of tracking time when you take a mental health day.
  • Control Your Breathing. Tai chi, yoga and meditation all help you regulate your breathing, which can reduce stress. Anxious people tend to breathe from the upper chest. To calm down, take slow, deep, measured breaths that swell your abdomen rather than your rib cage.
  • Let your thoughts wander. Chances are you are probably pretty good at daydreaming, but give yourself special permission to create a happy, relaxing mental space.

Taking a mental health day may give you the energy you need to fully commit to work and personal responsibilities again.

3 Steps to a Modernized Workplace Employees Love

The past year has seen many progressive office design trends. From spirited and social colour themes to eco-friendly flooring, there’s no shortage of ways to modernize your office. Here are three ideas that your employees may appreciate.

1. Implement Design Features That Promote Overall Well-Being

A workspace that supports good physical and mental conditions for your employees improves their performance. Modern office design features that promote good overall well-being include:

  • Recharging rooms such as electronic-free zones, power-nap areas, yoga and meditation rooms for physical and mental rejuvenation
  • Gaming areas that include an arcade machine, pool table, or ping-pong table to encourage fun and exercise
  • Natural elements such as natural light and plants to improve mental health
  • Height-adjustable desks to improve energy, lower risk of heart disease, and reduce back pain

2. Consider Using Collaborative Coworking Spaces

Finding affordable workspace used to be a major problem for small businesses and start-ups. Nowadays these businesses can rent shared office spaces without having to commit to long-term contracts that tend to be expensive.

Referred to as coworking, this concept is becoming increasingly popular, especially in creative industries. Many businesses prefer this solution because it allows employees to have a flexible work schedule and supports collaboration between like-minded professionals.

Create a lively, collaborative coworking space by setting up shared desks, meeting pods, and whiteboards for brainstorming. These elements ensure that your workspace supports the growth of your business and helps attract a constant stream of new clients. Be sure to strike a balance when using open office plans, though: almost a third of the respondents to Staples 2019 Canadian Workplace Survey cited their office’s floor plan as “too open” and distracting.

3. Set Up Feature Walls That Match Your Brand Identity and Journey

Use feature walls to impress your visitors, inject a captivating aesthetic theme into your interiors, and promote your brand. Examples of inexpensive options include:

  • Framed testimonials that inspire trust in prospective clients and employees visiting your offices
  • A story wall that gives an account of your brand’s journey, highlights your company’s strengths, and encourages conversation around your history
  • Vinyl wall graphics that promote your brand identity, for example, woodland graphics that match your company’s pro-environment ethos

Feature walls are one of the easiest modern office design features to implement and are an affordable way to develop your brand. If you’re in search of ways to advance your brand, consider brainstorming some ideas for your feature walls.

4 Tips for Great Workplace Relationships

According to a Gallup survey, employees who have a close friend at the office are seven times more likely to be engaged in their workplace tasks. This sense of satisfaction is not limited to people with a best friend. Just having a good friend is enough to improve your personal fulfillment, an aspect of work that employees ranked highly in the Staples 2019 Canadian Workplace Survey.

Here, we share four ways to grow strong workplace relationships.

1. Embrace Gratitude and Humility

When interacting with colleagues, embrace an attitude that suggests that the other person may have something to teach you. Doing so ensures you act in a way that increases the number of people who want to work with you.

You want your coworkers to know that you’re looking forward to learning from them and offer your best to the team. Show gratitude to people who support your training and development, especially if you’re new. This attitude helps create positive relationships at work.

2. Practice Active Listening and Observation

Before you share your commentary, take a step back and consider how it fits into the norms and culture of your workplace. Make sure that your views are respectful of your team’s decisions and its journey. Coupling your curiosity with respect develops healthy interactions with your team and colleagues.

3. Have Clear, Realistic Expectations for You and Others

If you’re a team leader or manager looking to boost team morale and improve the company culture, take incremental steps. Have realistic expectations for direct reports, and share those expectations with your team.

When the members of your team have clarity, they can be more confident in their ability to meet your standards. Team members who know exactly what their role is and the roles of their fellow team members are more likely to support each other’s goals as opposed to working in isolation

4. Be Honest and Transparent, Even When It’s Hard

If you been working at the company for a while, you’ve likely had relationships that span both ends of the spectrum. It’s in everyone’s interest that you be proactive about repairing strained relationships. Be ready to acknowledge the issues behind the strain and take responsibility for your role.

Avoid blaming others or deflecting. Own your share of the actions that led to the situation. If possible, arrange a private meeting with the colleague to apologize and reconcile. It’s never too late to apologize and make amends with your coworkers.

Four Ways Employers Can Support Healthy Workplace Nutrition

Most employees spend at least 60 percent of their waking hours on the job, so nutrition counts at the workplace more than anywhere else. While eating choices largely depend on individual preferences, employers can wield their influence to encourage workers to make healthy food decisions.

Workers who regularly consume wholesome foods tend to have more energy and focus. They are generally more productive and miss fewer days due to health issues. In many ways, any investment in the health of each employee is an investment in the health of the organization. Promoting nutrition in the workplace can be quite simple and enjoyable for all, and everyone benefits.

1. Lead by Example

Company leadership sets the tone for corporate culture not only with overarching ideals but everyday behaviours. The most elaborate workplace nutrition programs will have little impact if workers do not see their leaders engaged. Encourage managers and team leaders to adopt healthy eating habits such as:

  • Drinking plenty of water throughout the day
  • Eating healthy foods for lunch and breaks
  • Eating away from the desk.

2. Teach Nutritional Skills

Although people realize that nutrition is important, many do not possess a working knowledge and confidence of optimal food habits. The plethora of conflicting media messages only adds to the prevalent confusion. Set up workshops that discuss nutritional concepts and offer easily implementable ideas. Provide as many unprocessed, whole foods at meetings and potlucks.

3. Set Up for Success

Check the workplace for any barriers to healthy eating choices. Ensure that employees have access to refrigerators, microwaves, toasters and blenders. Stock vending machines with fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grain options.

4. Campaign for Wellness

Generate and maintain enthusiasm for nutrition by keeping information and motivation in sight. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recommends these and other ideas to promote wellness in the workplace:

  • Set a weekly or monthly health-related theme such as heart health or gut health
  • Allow workers to share recipes through the company’s social media, Intranet or posters
  • Host a luncheon featuring healthy food choices
  • Use bulletin boards to post nutritional resources; provide pamphlets in break areas
  • Publish articles or tips in internal correspondence.

Wellness Programs for Your Workplace: Why You Need Them, How to Build Them

A workplace wellness program can be any kind of health promotion activity, benefit, or policy that is primarily designed to encourage healthy behavior in the workplace and in the daily lives of employees. Workplace wellness programs are part of a growing realization that a positive and healthy work environment can lead to better employee health, morale and productivity.

Workplace Wellness Data From the Staples Canadian Workplace Survey

For an idea of the impact wellness programs are having in Canada, the 2019 Staples Canadian Workplace Survey asked employees questions about the availability and types of wellness programs their employees offered. Because employees spend so much time at their workplace, it is understandable that 83 percent of survey respondents say employers have a responsibility to keep employees mentally and physically well. However, only 39 percent said that their employer offers a dedicated wellness program, and 40 percent said their employer has never discussed a topic related to employee wellness, illustrating a gap between employee expectations and employer performance. In fact, 48 percent of survey respondents indicated that they would actually take a pay cut for a job with an employer that cares about health and wellness.

Ideas for Your Workplace Wellness Program

Knowing how important this issue is to employees, employers have a wide variety of options when considering what type of wellness program to implement at their workplace. Wellness programs often feature benefits related to physical fitness such as gym reimbursement or discounts, an on-site gym, or group fitness classes. However, wellness programs can also provide better employee education about health topics through free seminars or visits from fitness counselors and nutritionists.

When crafting a workplace wellness program, employers also should not overlook employee mental health. Encouraging employees to take their vacation and PTO days and providing places at the office for quiet moments of rest and decompression are other helpful ways to improve employee health.

Here are a few ideas to make your workplace wellness program more engaging:

  • Healthy snacks, beverages, and meal options at the office
  • Fun incentives like voluntary competitions to see which employee or team can track the most steps in a month
  • Financial rewards or prizes for attending first aid or CPR classes

Finally, if you want more information about starting a workplace wellness program, check out the free e-course from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety called the Business Case for Workplace Wellness.

3 Great Ways for Your Small Business to Celebrate Father’s Day

Each year on the third Sunday in June, families gather to celebrate the wonderful fathers (and father figures) in their lives. Though Father’s Day isn’t the biggest holiday when it comes to gift-giving, it’s estimated that Canadians spent nearly $311 million in 2018. Your small business can join the festivities by putting a few of these fun ideas into practice.

Create a Special Promotion for Father’s Day

Having a special sale for Father’s Day is one of the easiest ways to participate in the holiday. Instead of making the discount for fathers only, which could make some feel excluded, provide a discount to encourage them to purchase a gift for their father, grandfather, uncle, or any other father figures they want to celebrate. A percent-off discount for the week of Father’s Day often works well. Make sure to market your promotion well to maximize its effectiveness. Try a combination of in-store signs, local mailings, and social media posts to get the word out and attract more customers.

Make a Display With “Dad-Friendly” Gifts

When it comes to special occasions, customers often struggle to find the perfect gift idea for their dad. Make it easier on them by choosing some of the best dad-appropriate gifts your business has to offer and creating a prominent display during the month of June. This can especially come in handy for last-minute shoppers who let the holiday sneak up on them. Combine it with your Father’s Day promotion to earn extra brownie points from grateful customers.

Host a Father’s Day Event

Create a festive Father’s Day event that works with the type of business you have. It could be anything from a relaxed cookout at a hardware store to special live music at a restaurant. Maybe even consider having some kind of raffle or giveaway that encourages customers to spend more time shopping with you. Whatever type of get-together you choose, special events like this can be a great way to attract customers to your business. More importantly, however, your event is a chance for you and your employees to relax and interact with your customers to really get to know them. This is one of the most important ways to create customer loyalty and ensure repeat business in the future.

Three Tips on LGBTQ-Friendly Marketing for Pride Month

June is National Pride Month. This time is about the country supporting and celebrating people who are part of the LGBTQ community. Getting involved in Pride as a small business is good for your local community and your business. Large corporations like Apple, Starbucks and Google have created Pride-related marketing campaigns in support and have reaped the benefits. Read on to discover three ways you can do Pride Month right and show respect for your local LGBTQ communities.

Window Stickers and Website Badges

Let your customers see your support every time they shop with a Pride sticker on your business window. A rainbow sticker, or one with the saying “We Serve Everyone” lets your customers know you are welcoming of the LGBTQ community. Using similar images as badges on your website share your message to online shoppers as well.

Business Logo

Large corporations have been known to change their logos in support of various holidays or communities. Give your logo a rainbow re-color, and promote it online and in a bricks-and-motor location. This shows the local community your support every time they pass through your doors. Keep your rainbow logo up in your business throughout the month of June to let the local LGBTQ community feel welcome in your business all year long.

LGBTQ-Friendly Policies

Look at your workplace policies. Ensure that your policies protect and support not just your customers, but your workers as well. Around 30 percent of LGBTQ employees report discrimination in the workplace. To encourage a safe environment for all of your workers, see that your equal employment opportunity policy includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Policies such as employment benefits for same-sex marriages give LGBTQ workers the same securities as their fellow workers. Creating a diverse employee resource group ensures that all of your workers have the same help and support.

Let your local community know you are welcoming of the LGBTQ community. Use these tips to join in on Pride Month in a respectful manner, and share your support. Supporting your local LGBTQ community not only builds a safer, more inclusive environment to your customers, but it can be a successful marketing campaign. The LGBTQ consumer market is there, and sharing your support encourages both LGBTQ customers and Allies to come shop at your business.