This article comes from Entrepreneur.
Managing a team is probably the most considerable investment in operating any business. Naturally, sustaining their productivity and performance quality is paramount. While your capacity to offer incentives like that of EY might be as far removed from your realm as winning the lottery, you and your people can still experience the same benefits.
With the World Health Organization identifying the number of those suffering from depression and anxiety is swiftly on the rise, you and your people could not benefit more from undertaking mental skills training. However, it needs to go beyond token attendance to workshops here and there.
Short, sharp bursts of regular education will be more effective in the long run. Facilitate your people developing a proactive (rather than remedial) attitude to managing their mental health. Consider teeing them up with performance psychology and coaching sessions. Provide them access a suite of individuals they can choose to work with and invite them to set measurable goals to improve their mental health and skills.
If you gifted your people with private health coverage (or a supplement toward) or an eight-week program to learn a sport, craft or another skill such as a language, which would deliver the most experiential benefit? Which is most likely to immediately contribute to your employee’s well-being and performance?
Think about the win-win’s of gifting an employee who’s always wanted to undertake art classes an eight-week program of painting tuition. They feel more valued because it’s something they want. They will likely make time for it outside of work (or if classes start at 5 pm, you could allow them to leave those days slightly early).
They’re not going to take it for granted because it’s for a limited time period. Their mental and emotional health is re-fueled by engaging in a relaxing, creative activity that they enjoy. The win for you is having that increased sense of satisfaction flow back into your business and the work environment.
Conversely, what is the direct experiential benefit of offering private health insurance? Peace of mind?
Research shows it is actually the helper who experiences greater personal and emotional satisfaction from being in servitude in comparison with that experienced by that whom they are helping. The brain’s amygdala — designed to be activated by stressful triggers — experiences reduced activity. In addition, there is increased activity in reward-processing areas of the brain — the ventral striata — and higher activation in the septal region which is related to caregiving.
Based on these findings, mental health professionals often recommend engagement in volunteer work to help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, this strategy should not only be used with a remedial focus.
Volunteering is a strong component of being in the workforce, particularly in Australia. Similar to Ernst and Young’s efforts, one of the five major national banks Suncorp fosters voluntary altruism through their employee-driven Brighter Futures program. Individuals substitute a paid work day volunteering with one of their sixteen charity partners that have been chosen by the employees themselves. With more studies reporting increases in productivity and employee engagement where corporate volunteering programs are a workplace feature, there are too many win-win opportunities for everyone involved to ignore.
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