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Employee Wellness

How Can You Better Care For Your Employees? Focus on Mental Health

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How Can You Better Care For Your Employees? Focus on Mental Health

by Kate Vandeveld

Stress and anxiety in the workplace have a major impact on both performance and employee happiness, and most working Americans experience both daily. So why aren’t we doing more about it? Or, perhaps more importantly, why aren’t we even talking about it?

There is significant stigma around discussing mental health, and this increases even further in the workplace, given expectations and definitions of “professionalism”. Despite the widespread prevalence of workplace anxiety, employees still don’t discuss it for fear of being perceived as lazy, incapable, or undependable by their peers and superiors.

In reality, it’s actually when we don’t address mental health in the workplace that work really suffers. In fact, fifty-six percent of employees say that stress and anxiety sometimes impacts their workplace performance, and fifty percent say it impacts the quality of their work. Those numbers are significant, and it’s time we address them.

In light of this, as companies are considering implementing employee wellness programs in increasing numbers, we encourage them to consider programs that address mental health, specifically. Here are a few options to get started:

Provide Free Mental Health Assessments

For those who are struggling with stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues, it can be difficult to even take the first step of acknowledging it, much less actively addressing it. Whether you provide employees with access to a confidential online assessment tool, or bring professionals into the workplace to offer anonymous screenings, encourage your employees to take stock of their mental health so they can address their needs accordingly.

Offer Employee Forums & Workshops

Perhaps the most important way we can break down the stigma around mental health is simply by talking about it as openly and frequently as possible. You can do this in your workplace by hosting employee forums and workshops in which respected guest speakers come in  to talk about how they’ve managed their own mental health. Recognizing that even the most successful professionals struggle with mental health can have a huge impact on the willingness of others to open up.

Build Internal Infrastructure That Supports Employees

When feeling stressed and anxious, employees often avoid speaking to their direct supervisors or teammates about it. Instead, they may opt to forge ahead with their work, so as to avoid being perceived as a burden or a weak link. Create other options by developing new internal check-in systems that allow employees to voice concerns about their roles, certain projects, and work-life balance, and adjust when necessary. You can do this by connecting your employees with HR representatives or building in regular reviews with other employees that they don’t work with directly. On the flipside, you can also provide trainings to leaders in your business or organization to ensure that they enforce work-life balance and have reasonable expectations of the employees on their teams.

Offer Access to Yoga & Meditation

Practicing yoga and meditation can have a significant and positive effect on relieving stress and anxiety. Both practices decrease symptoms of physiological arousal, like increased heart rate and blood pressure, and encourage feelings of mindfulness and calm. In your workplace, you can provide a workshop on meditation for stress relief, and encourage employees to practice these techniques on their own. If you’re able, you can offer employees time off during the day to take an off-site yoga class, a meditation break, or even provide in-office yoga classes several times per month.

 

Before you determine which program is best for your team, its crucial to first do an internal assessment. Ask your employees to weigh in anonymously on what causes them stress and anxiety, and encourage them to be open about how they manage those feelings. Taking this time will teach you a lot about how you can best address mental health in your specific workplace.

Do you know of a particularly innovative or unique employee wellness program centered around mental health? Tell us about it – here’s how:

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How & Why We’re Building a Culture of Kindness

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How & Why We’re Building a Culture of Kindness

“Being kind to our fellow human beings is a precondition to becoming truly successful. Goodness and kindness are the single most important factors when it comes to how successful we will be in our lives.”

- Stefan Einhorn, The Art of Being Kind

Too often, we hear that to be successful, we have to push ourselves (and others) to the edge. We need to work harder, study longer, sleep less, and sacrifice more.

Unfortunately, this mindset can lead to a disconnect with our loved ones, miscommunications with colleagues, impatient behavior, poor self-care, and a multitude of other issues.   

At WhyWhisper, we see success as a better world – one that is filled with opportunity, justice, and support. And we believe that making this happen doesn’t start with working harder or making more sacrifices – it starts with kindness. There’s a chain effect that occurs when we put kindness out into the world: it travels. And if we all commit to being kinder in our day-to-day lives, then as a society, we collaboratively achieve success. 

This year, our team is consciously working to develop a culture of kindness. We’re challenging ourselves to commit to, and reflect on, at least one kind act per week, with each of us defining for ourselves what kindness really means.

Here are some of our examples: 

  • Take time to stop and help someone who needs it. When someone asks for directions, or needs support crossing the street, stop and help them, kindly and patiently. Odds are, it’ll change their day.
  • Cook or buy a meal for someone who’s hungry. Instead of just brushing by the next person who asks for your support, take a minute to stop somewhere and buy them a hearty meal.
  • Write a Letter to someone who might need a little cheering up.  Too often, we forget how much it means to receive a letter of encouragement. Think of someone who’s going through a hard time (whether you know them or not), and write a note to let them know you’re in their corner.
  • Take care of yourself. When we’re busy or overwhelmed, self-care is often the first thing to go. It shouldn’t be, but it is. And the fact is, when we don’t care for ourselves, we also can’t take care of others. Think about how you can be kind to yourself, then set aside the time to do so.
  • Pick up some trash. How often do you walk by a piece of garbage on the street, slightly annoyed that people still litter? Next time that happens, instead of getting annoyed, pick it up (safely, of course).
  • Focus on your community. When we’re thinking about large-scale social impact, we can sometimes forget to consider our own communities. Who do you interact with everyday, and how can you show them kindness? Tip your local barista more than you usually would. Have a conversation with your neighborhood crossing guard. These seemingly small acts will likely have a chain reaction.

To be clear, we’re not suggesting that these small acts should take the place of working toward substantive, sustainable change. After all, providing a meal to someone who’s hungry does not solve a large-scale problem. But in that moment, it does make all the difference to that person, and that’s undoubtedly impactful.

If you’re inspired to be more conscious about kindness, we’d love for you to join us in our challenge. Follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram), and post your kind acts with #WhyWhisper #workonpurpose. You can also get in touch with us via email, or in the comments below. We look forward to seeing the good that we can accomplish together this year!

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Reduce Your Company’s Environmental Footprint in 2016

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Reduce Your Company’s Environmental Footprint in 2016

by Kate Vandeveld

If you work in an office, you may have noticed that you and your colleagues use a lot of paper, leave the lights on a lot, or throw away a lot of things that could be recycled. If so, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that offices generate a huge amount of waste on a daily basis. Even if you work from home or a co-working space, it can be difficult to keep track of your environmental footprint. Unfortunately, we’re all constantly generating waste, overusing resources, and unconsciously hurting the earth through the things that we purchase. But the good news is that we can, somewhat easily, change the way we consume and utilize resources in our offices and workspaces to reduce that footprint.

While we’d love to encourage you to get your company on board with a large-scale sustainability program, in the meantime, there are simple changes you can make right now to kick off 2016 on an environmentally-friendly foot:  

Reduce Your Company’s Environmental Footprint in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

Be conscientious about office supplies

Paper products

Did you know the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year? Paper and cardboard account for almost 40 percent of our overall waste. The best solution to this problem is to reduce (or even eliminate!) office paper use, though this may not be possible for every office. If it’s an option for yours, here are some tips on how you can reduce paper waste. It it’s not, be conscious about purchasing recyclable paper for your offices.

Bathroom & kitchen supplies

For dish or bathroom soap, try products from method. For toilet paper, paper towels, or disposable tableware, opt for Seventh Generation. Both offer eco-friendly and affordable alternatives to the products that you use on a daily basis.

Light bulbs

Choose compact fluorescent bulbs for office lighting, as these use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescents, and last anywhere from 3-25 times longer.

Coffee & tea

If your office serves coffee and/or tea, go for local roasters rather than the big names. Shopping small business is good for the local economy and your community in general – learn more about the benefits here

If you already purchase eco-friendly office products, what is your go-to source? Share with us in the comments, and we’ll pass along the word to our community!

 

Reduce Your Company’s Environmental Footprint in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

Minimize employee transportation 

Transportation has a significant impact on the environment. Each day, Americans use over 2.9 billion gallons of gas, due in large part to the fact that 77% insist on driving alone to work. Luckily, there are ways you can reduce that – here are a few options: 

Share a ride to work

Whether you opt for public transportation or carpooling, sharing rides makes a huge difference. It reduces traffic congestion, uses less gas, and decreases fuel emissions. If you’re an employer who is looking to incentivize ride sharing, try subsidizing public transportation costs for your employees.

Bike to work

If you live in a place where it’s an option, biking is the most environmentally friendly, financially smart, and health-conscious option. Here are some of the environmental benefits of biking rather than driving a car to work. If you’re an employer, consider offering bike parking to make it easier on your employees who are interested in biking.

Work from home

If your company offers an option to work remotely, try it out! If you can’t bike, this is clearly the best way to reduce the environmental effects of car transportation.

 

Reduce Your Company’s Environmental Footprint in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

Keep energy usage low

Use your thermostat

Rather than keeping your office the same temperature at all times, utilize the feature that turns on heat or air conditioning at specific times and turns off automatically at the end of the day. Tip: Set it to start a bit before anyone gets into the office, and no one will even feel the difference.  

Turn off your electronics

In many offices, computers are left on all the time – even after hours. Encourage your employees or co-workers to shut down at night before they leave. Also, unplug lamps, chargers, and other electronics whenever you’re able as well – they use “stand-by power” when plugged in, even if not in use. If everyone in the office makes these small changes, it’ll make a big difference over time.


Reduce Your Company’s Environmental Footprint in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

Reduce, reuse & recycle

Start a recycling program at the office

According to the EPA, about 80 to 90 percent of solid waste is recyclable in the average workplace. Whether you start with setting out recycling bins in highly trafficked areas (such as near the printer and in the kitchen), or launch a full-fledged office recycling program, taking this initiative will greatly reduce your office’s environmental footprint. 

Compost

If there’s a kitchen in your office, it’s very possible you’re throwing away a lot of things that could be composted and used differently. You can keep compost in-office for fertilizing your plants, or take it home with you to use in your own garden. If this is an option for you, here’s a great guide to office composting.

 

Do you have innovative ideas for how companies can reduce their environmental footprint right now? Share with us! We want to know every tip in the book.

If your company is looking to invest in a larger-scale sustainability program, or even if you’d like some support in implementing these ideas, we can help. Get in touch with us here.

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What We Learned in 2015

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What We Learned in 2015

What We Learned in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

2015 was an exciting year! We worked to expand access to integrative healthcare for communities in need, designed programs to support new mothers, expanded awareness of clean energy initiatives in New York, and so much more. We connected with inspiring individuals who are working to change the world every day. We made big internal changes (that we’re excited to share with you in 2016!). And, perhaps most importantly, we learned a lot.

Along the way, we’ve been sure to share many of our takeaways with you via our blog. As 2015 comes to a close and you’re kicking of 2016, be sure to check out the posts below to find insights on the subjects (both personal and professional) that are most relevant to you!

Start with Yourself

This year, we learned a lot about the importance of taking time for self-care and self-improvement. The positive effects of taking care of yourself extend to all areas of your life -- from mental health to workplace effectiveness. Self-improvement looks different for each individual, and can encompass anything from taking time off, to making more responsible purchasing decisions, to educating yourself about things that matter to you. To help you get started, here’s some of what we’ve learned:

 

Learn from the Experts

We believe one of the best ways to learn about social impact is by example. This year, we’ve been lucky enough to connect with and learn from innovative and effective leaders from nonprofits, social enterprises, and corporations. Here’s a bit of what we’ve learned:

 

Share Your Message

One of our focus areas at WhyWhisper is helping nonprofits and socially conscious businesses spread the word about their work. From developing voice and messaging guidelines to implementing an effective social media strategy and beyond, there are so many ways you can ensure that people know about the impact you’re making. If you’re looking for tips, start here:

 

Think About Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The concept of building social impact into existing business models is on the rise, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. Businesses and corporations can make significant headway in addressing social issues, and we look forward to seeing (and helping) more of you follow suit next year. If you’re interested in learning more about CSR, here’s some of what we’ve shared this past year:

 

Increase Your Impact

We’re constantly exploring ways that organizations and businesses can make internal changes that have a positive effect on their workplaces and on the world. Here’s some of what we’ve learned:

 

Take Action

We’re also always looking for ways to help our community bridge the gap between caring about a particular issue and actually taking action. When you’re short on resources, or don’t really know where to get started, it can be tough to make moves. We’ve put together a number of posts about how you can take action around different issues – and some are as easy as talking about the issues online! Check them out:

 

Words of Wisdom for Freelancers

At WhyWhisper, we set out to build a different kind of work structure. As such, our team is comprised of consultants who work remotely and independently, taking on projects that are personally meaningful with teammates who support and inspire. But freelancing has its own challenges, and we’ve learned a lot along the way:

What’s your biggest learning from 2015? We’d love to hear about it, and share with our community. Here’s how to get in touch:

Happy New Year to our incredible community! We’re so lucky to learn from you every day, and can’t wait for all that we’ll do together this year. Feel free to connect with us anytime – we love to hear from you.

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