Making Space For Emotional Wellbeing In The Workplace
Updated: May 14
Work can be stressful
On top of work related stress, we also all have other stressors that we carry with us from our personal lives, leaving us with less emotional bandwidth deal with work related stress. So why do we have such a hard time being honest about asking for and giving the emotional support and space we need in the workplace?
Well, for one, most of us worry about the negative impact of this kind of honesty might have on our careers. We worry about this because of the stigma that surrounds even momentary occurrences of poor emotional and mental health. Phrases such as, “Man/toughen up,” “You just have to power through it,” or even, “You shouldn’t let that bother you,” all push a narrative that we should never feel stressed, emotional, or overwhelmed. We’ve learned that if we are honest, there will be those who believe that we are not not capable of handling the pressure of our jobs and won’t be able to take on new responsibilities or positions. This belief can damage or kill our careers.
Comprehensive Wellbeing programs that include a range of programs that aim to improve physical emotional, mental, and financial health by encouraging healthy diets, exercise, mindfulness, sleep, and stress management can boost performance as well as social and emotional well-being.
A comprehensive wellbeing program is not going to make all your problems go away, but it can be an essential component in creating a workplace culture of health. A good wellbeing program can improve employee health as well as boost and maintain employee morale. All of which, in turn, will improve your organization’s bottom line. With an effective wellbeing program you will improve the lives of your employees and that will help drive the success of your organization. But in order for any wellbeing program to be effective, there must also be changes to culture and leadership behaviors that support these efforts.
I created the following Personal And Emotional Space statement to be included in a client’s employee handbook.
“Our organization understands that at times we all need a little space and time to care for ourselves. There are many reasons we may need to do so, physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, stress reduction, or religious/spiritual observations. We fully support the idea of taking the space we need for our wellbeing as it promotes healthier working relationships and increased productivity in the long term. We ask each of our employees to be honest about the space they need and to respect the space requested by others. All efforts will be made by our management team to reasonably allow for these times when doing so will not severely impact essential productivity or when delay of allowing such time will negatively impact one’s physical or emotional health to an unsafe degree. Should you find that certain activities or interactions frequently require you to need additional space or time to care for yourself, please open a dialog with Human Resources to address the issues triggering this need or to build in a structured time to accommodate this need.”
By including this statement in their employee handbook, they are destigmatizing poor emotional and mental health, creating a culture where employees who may struggle with occasional, recurring, or ongoing emotional, mental, or other health concerns feel supported, and allows their employees to work with them to find a way of balancing their emotional and mental health needs with their responsibilities so that both they and the company can find success. Their employees know from the moment they read this statement that they can do what is necessary to care for themselves, and the company knows that their employees will be more focused and more effective when they are working.
FIC Human Resource Partners can help your organization make space for the emotional wellbeing of your employees.