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.

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.

4 Best Items to Make Your Workplace More Ergonomic

While office work may seem harmless, sitting at a desk all day can be uncomfortable and lead to health issues. If employee workstations aren’t set up properly, staff could experience back and neck pain, tendon problems, headaches and other health problems. Ergonomic workplaces help reduce the risk of injury or discomfort. There are many ergonomic products on the market; here are the four best options.

1. Ergonomic Keyboards

Office workers spend a lot of time using their keyboards, so ergonomic keyboards are a smart investment. Unlike traditional keyboards, ergonomic keyboards have split keysets. This lets employees keep their arms and wrists in a natural position while they type. Some ergonomic keyboards have a separate number pad, so employees can position the pad in a comfortable position. In addition, some of these specialized keyboards have built-in wrist rests for additional comfort.

2. Vertical Mice

For optimum comfort, a computer mouse should keep the user’s wrist in a neutral position. While some of your employees may be satisfied with traditional mice, others may be more comfortable with alternate designs. Vertical mice, also called column mice, keep the user’s hand and wrist straight, rather than bent. While many vertical mice are designed for right-handed use, mirrored versions are available for your left-handed employees. Ambidextrous models, which encourage employees to use both hands throughout the day, are another option to consider.

3. Adjustable Chairs

Since sitting for long periods puts strain on the lower back, it’s important to provide suitable chairs. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recommends selecting adjustable chairs. Both the seat height and the backrest should be adjustable for employee comfort. It’s important to note that adjustable chairs aren’t one size fits all. A chair that is suitable for a short employee may not be suitable for a tall employee and vice versa. If possible, allow your employees to select their own chairs.

4. Monitor Mounts

Computer monitors that are too high or too low can cause neck discomfort for your employees. Monitor mounts are an affordable solution to this ergonomic problem. These mounts let your employees raise or lower their monitors to a position they find comfortable. With a monitor mount, it’s also easy for employees to quickly tilt their screens to reduce glare.

By investing in ergonomic office products, you can help your employees stay comfortable during the workday.

Getting Your Best Sleep on a Busy Schedule

A busy lifestyle can cut into your sleep time, leaving you feeling tired during the day. However, that doesn’t have to be case. There are a number of things you can do to improve the quality of sleep you enjoy, even if you do have to work it in around a hectic lifestyle.

Improve Sleep Quality

You can get a jump start on a good night’s sleep by doing some transitional things after work or before you go to bed. These things include:

  • Incorporate a short yoga session, soothing stretches, meditation or taking a walk after work. This helps you let go of the day’s stresses so you transition from work to private time and finally to bedtime.
  • Install light-blocking window coverings or wear an eye mask. This is especially helpful if you’re a shift worker who doesn’t get to sleep when it’s dark or if you live in an area where there’s a light source outside your window.
  • Set up an ambient noise machine or wear earplugs to block out noise if you live somewhere that’s not quiet when you need to rest. That way, neighbours, family members, traffic and pets aren’t keeping you awake with excess noise.

Enjoy a Good Nap

When you don’t get a full night’s sleep, your energy may crash during the day, but a nap can turn that drop in energy into a positive thing. A nap after lunch, ranging in length from 20 minutes to one hour, offers rejuvenating benefits. It also helps make up for reduced night-time sleep. Choose a comfortable spot where you won’t be interrupted during your nap. Use some of the techniques that improve night-time sleep quality, such as wearing a mask to block light and turning on soft music to block noise.

Sleep is more than a luxury, it’s a necessity, and sleeping well can be part of the difference between delivering an average performance at work and being a high achiever. When you enjoy quality sleep, whether in one long night-time session or by taking a nap after lunch, it increases your ability to function at peak performance levels.

Five Amazing Workplace Strategies for Stress Management

Statistics Canada notes that more than 25 percent of Canadian workers have reported experiencing high to extreme stress daily. Work is the primary source of stress for 62 percent of workers, while time and finances are the main pressing matters for 12 percent of them. More than ever, companies are developing novel methods to help employees manage stress. These outstanding strategies are cultivating and empowering loyal, focused workers to be their best.

Help Fund Employee Vacations

Although companies often offer paid vacation time, many workers cannot afford to do much more than stay at home. At well-known human resources tool provider BambooHR, every employee receives money for vacation expenses once a year. The company wants to help employees enjoy enriching experiences and create memories that provide a reprieve from pressures.

Pay Employees to Give Back

Helping others is a powerful way to foster gratitude and gain fresh perspectives on issues that cause stress. Companies like pipeline operator NuStar Energy and Salesforce give workers at least seven full days of paid time annually to volunteer with a charity. Fortune observed that organizations who make this investment see reduced turnover.

Offer Counseling Services

Financial stress is epidemic, and the weight of it impacts employee productivity at virtually every level of many organizations. BambooHR hosts a “Financial Peace University” course on money management as well as financial advising. They also provide help with substance abuse, care for dependents and elders, and more.

Let the Dogs In

Workplace insights provider kununu reports that people who bring their pets to work have less stress and more job satisfaction. Ben and Jerry’s, Amazon, and Proctor and Gamble allow pets to accompany their owners on the job. This would not be feasible in certain scenarios like factories or construction sites; however, where open-door pet policies can work, employers can utilize this strategy with no major cost to the company.

Provide Great Spaces to Unwind

Allowing employees time to take a break is a given. If employees have access to stress-reducing environments, they are more likely to come back refreshed and ready to focus again. Some possible ideas include meditation rooms, yoga and wellness classes, onsite gyms and paths for walking and hiking.

5 Steps to Starting an Office Recycling Program

According to a recent study, Canadians produce about 31 million tonnes of garbage a year, and only about 30 per cent of that material is recycled.

Thankfully, you can take five simple steps to help the environment by starting an effective recycling program at the office.

  1. Mobilize a team of coworkers for the program. You can’t do it alone. Put together a team of coworkers from various departments to help you come up with an office recycling program and successfully execute it. Include the janitorial staff and make sure they are also invested in making the project work.
  2. Determine the type and amount of waste the program will manage. Consult your waste hauler to find out how you’re required to handle your recyclable items as this varies with municipalities. Carry out a waste audit to determine what portion of your waste is recyclable. Determine the flow of waste traffic and place bins in strategic locations throughout the office.
  3. Consider implementing a centralized recycling program. Here, office workers take the waste in the mini bins by their desks to a central location and sort it. This system fosters accountability in workers for the waste they produce and boosts diversion rates by decreasing stream contamination.
  4. Choose the most suitable bins. Go for bins that collect all stream of waste in a single container. Having separate bins for recyclable and non-recyclable waste discourages people from using the right bin because they will use the nearest one instead. Use bins that can adapt to changes in the type and volume of waste managed by your program. Use easily recognizable images to label your bins.
  5. Finally, implement the program. Educate workers in the office to make sure everyone is on board with the program. Use signs and posters as reminders and schedule meetings to discuss the results of the program and steps to improve it. These regular audits help the program grow increasingly effective.

Once you have an established program that’s woven into your company culture, you’ll find it easy to maintain in the long term.

Tips for Celebrating Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. All over the world, people gather at a variety of activities to learn, celebrate and demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Day includes events in more than 193 countries and is the largest secular observance in the world. It’s estimated that more than a billion people each year celebrate Earth Day.

Earth Day in Canada

Although Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970, the first Canadian Earth Day was held on Thursday, September 11, 1980. Earth Day Canada founded in 1990, helps people across the country celebrate this special holiday. Earth Day Canada has created an award-winning employee engagement program called EcoConnexions, which is designed to encourage environmental and sustainability values and initiatives in the workplace.

EcoConnexions emphasizes three pillars of environmental responsibility: conserving energy, reducing waste and improving housekeeping. If you’re looking for fun and interesting ways to celebrate Earth Day in your workplace, plan educational workplace events and celebrations around these three pillars.

Conserving Energy

Help employees understand how they can conserve energy in their homes and the workplace with tips from an organization such as Save on Energy. Hold a free lunch seminar to discuss these ideas and improve team spirit at the same time.

Reducing Waste

To celebrate Earth Day this year, consider providing each employee with a reusable water bottle branded with the company name. It’s a thoughtful gift that also prevents waste and saves money because they will use fewer cups, straws and other one-use items.

Employees are more likely to recycle bottle, cans and paper when it’s convenient. If you haven’t already provided recycling bins in employee break areas and around printing stations, consider adding them and asking employees to use them considerately as part of your Earth Day celebration.

Improving Housekeeping

When discussing housekeeping in an environmental sense, you’re not just talking about washing up. Housekeeping is a concept that involves improving work efficiency, utilizing assets and making advances in safety. Even small changes can have a big impact.

Consider replacing light bulbs with more energy-efficient ones, asking employees to shut down their computers at the end of the day and changing company-wide cleaning products to more eco-friendly options. You could even provide incentives for co-worker carpooling or organize a workplace volunteering event with a group like TreeCanada.

4 Tips for Being Aware of Your Stress Level… and Reducing It

Being Aware of Your Stress

Stress is emotional and mental pain resulting from adverse circumstances. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. It’s normal. But it can get out of control and cause serious problems. It’s important to monitor your stress levels and watch out for signs such as headaches, acne, chronic pain, poor general health, fatigue, lower libido, digestive problems, poor appetite, depressive moods, rapid heartbeats and uncontrollable sweating.

If your stress becomes unmanageable, seek the services of professionals, such as licensed mental health counsellors, social workers, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. Also, there are steps you can take to reduce your stress. Let’s take a look at four important ones.

1. Breathing Exercises

Stress-relief breathing is one of the quickest and easiest ways of reducing your stress level in any situation. These breathing exercises reverse your physiological response to a stressful situation by relaxing your body and mind. They’re great for relieving chronic stress, promoting clear thinking and reducing overall stress.

Take a five-minute break and pay attention to your breathing. Close your eyes and sit up straight with a hand on your belly. Gently inhale via your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and proceed up to your head. Reverse the process as you breathe out through your mouth.

2. Exercising

Exercising reduces stress and promotes overall wellness. In addition to stress relief, regular workouts help you manage your weight and improve your longevity. Exercise is highly effective at reducing stress because:

  • It’s a physical outlet for frustrations and stress.
  • It distracts you from stressful thoughts.
  • It gives you a natural endorphin high.
  • It improves your mental wellness in the long term.

3. Adopting an Optimistic Perspective

Research shows that optimism reduces stress. When exposed to the same stressful situations, optimists tend to be less reactive than pessimists because optimists interpret challenges and threats as opportunities. Optimists are also more likely to believe that they have the power to change their situations.

4. Meditating Regularly

Meditation has a variety of benefits, one of them being stress reduction. Taking a few minutes to meditate can center you in the present, pushing away worries about the future and regrets about the past. Like optimism, meditation can shift your perspective of a stressful situation and help you identify opportunities rather than fixate on seemingly insurmountable difficulties.

4 Great Tips for Preparing Your Office for Spring

With spring just around the corner, it’s time to prepare your office for warmer temperatures, upcoming seasonal storms and spring fever. By preparing early, you can keep the office motivated, ensure the safety of your workers and keep work flowing as it should. Consider the following tips and tricks to prepare your office for spring.

Get Organized

Spring clean your office to reduce clutter. Clear off bookcases, throw away documents and files that are no longer needed, purchase organizers to keep office supplies neat and tidy and give everything a good wipe down.

Change Your Decor

Make your office feel more like spring by freshening up painted walls with light pastel colors. You can also bring the outdoors in by adding plants. Plants decorate a space, and a study by the University of Technology in Sydney found lower levels of stress in workers when plants were placed throughout the office. Plants also reduce carbon dioxide levels in the air, making it easier to breathe, and serve as a natural buffer to reduce noise in common areas.

Do a Building Walk-Through

Winter snow and ice can wreak havoc on everything from your parking lot to your building’s roof. Routine inspections can help avoid expensive, time-consuming repairs and help protect your inventory and assets from damage. Look for any obvious signs of water damage to the building’s exterior, including water rings on the walls and soft and sagging spots on decks and the floor. Water damage can cause changes in color and texture of surfaces, cracks in the foundation and odors.

Inspect basements and areas closest to the roof for mold or wear. Also hire a landscaper to remove any of foliage and leaves from the previous season that can cause mold, mildew and rotting wood.

Check All Systems

Schedule a maintenance appointment with your HVAC specialist and have him check the coolant on your system to make sure you are ready to switch from the heat to the air. Failure to have periodic checks can run your energy costs up and can cause component failure if you let your system run for long periods without being serviced.

Banish the cold-weather blues in your office by getting ready for the upcoming warmer weather. By giving your office a face-lift, you can increase productivity and help keep employees healthier and happier.