When I’m having one of those really good days at work, I’m on top of the world and there’s no problem I can’t solve. I can prioritize, balance my days, and stay ahead. Life is good. Mental Health Experience: 10/10
Oh, but what’s this? A project is taking much longer than expected? That’s fine. New tasks are coming in, but I’ll map out what I need to do. Mental Health Experience: 7/10
But now there are some family troubles that I need to take care of immediately. I’ll move some meetings around and push these new work tasks to later. But now I’m paranoid that the team thinks I can’t keep up. Mental Health Experience: 4/10
I haven’t been sleeping well and the anxiety won’t go away. And now I’ve officially missed my deadline and other tasks are falling through cracks. Why am I like this? Mental Health Experience: 1/10
When that mental fatigue creeps in, it’s incredibly hard to get past it. We have jobs to do five days a week and finding a way to manage our mental and physical health is crucial, especially in a remote workforce where in-person interaction is minimal.
However, putting an emphasis on acknowledging mental health needs, offering direct company support to employees in the form of weekly check-ins, communication boundaries, Employee Assistance Programs, and incorporating explicit community-building programs can go a long way toward addressing those challenges.
With those tools, employers can see improvements in team morale, communication, stress management, and overall company culture.
Communication At Work
It’s easy to feel like you’re on your own deserted island in a remote workplace. Without the in-person element of an office, fostering casual communication can get left to employees.
Creating different opportunities for employees to connect can not only provide a destressing outlet, but also create organic comradery amongst peers from around the world. At DockYard, for example, our team has access to a range of non-work slack channels, from pets to parenting to bread baking.
Some days I’m feeling extra introverted and need to put up a “do not disturb” Slack update and other days I need a mental break from spreadsheets. When the anxiety starts to creep up, I find myself scrolling through different casual Slack channels for a positive mental break. Reading about others’ general wellness, doggie mischief, and dinner plans makes me feel included without feeling socially overwhelmed.
These casual breaks between the workday grind are not only refreshing, but they allow us to bond on more than just being employed at the same company.
Outside of Slack, DockYard’s Narwin Buddies program and Hallway Talks have given me something to look forward to every couple of weeks.
The Narwin Buddies program is a voluntary, employee-led program that randomly pairs team members every other week to mix and mingle. I get to have one-on-ones with a new coworker from another department that I may not have ever spoken to otherwise.
Our Hallway Talks are another great initiative from our Culture Guild to give DockYarders the space to present their passions and interests to peers. Topics can range from chess lessons to history factoids and even fire safety.
Both of these initiatives give employees a chance to learn about their team members outside the responsibilities of their roles. And they help foster the interpersonal relationships that can fall by the wayside in a remote workplace, and which allow team members to feel seen and supported as people, not just employees.
Maintaining my mental health has always been an ongoing endeavor, and I’ve come to appreciate the ways DockYard shows support for employees’ mental wellbeing.
For example, my recurring check-ins with my managers are more than just “Have you finished xyz yet??” conversations. It’s more about where I am mentally and how they can help. Even if it’s something as simple as offering an ear to listen, we’re building trust with one another over time. It’s important for my boss to know they can trust me to get the job done, but I also need to trust that I can come forward with problems to talk through in a safe space.
Speaking of safe space, I’ve also found it refreshing to see managers who allow themselves to be vulnerable and transparent with their mental health. To know that my boss trusts me to open up, makes me feel like I can share my internal struggles as well. When the walls come down, we can get to the root of issues and work together to find solutions.
But I know this type of work atmosphere isn’t the norm for a lot of companies. Our leadership works diligently to set the tone and expectations around mental health and builds teams that align well with DockYard’s company values. Team members are investing into a company just as much as the company is investing in them. So there’s a mutual respect to uphold for both to grow successfully.
Setting healthy boundaries also makes a huge difference in the workday if you allow yourself to disconnect from work.
You know what I’m talking about: Refreshing your emails in case something came through while you were eating, constantly wondering what the little red notification is all about instead of watching a movie when you’re off the clock, or hearing the infamous Slack ding coming from your phone because you kept notifications on in case there’s an emergency.
By acknowledging that your work hours are not 24/7, you can get some of your life back.
I also value outlets like DockYard’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to schedule counseling sessions and attend wellness webinars. And I appreciate our Employee Experience team for giving us the opportunity to take care of our mental health at our own pace.
To the workaholic inside my brain: Companies have PTO/Sick Time for a reason! USE IT. Working through the stress and anxiety will slow you down more than just taking a mental health day to recharge and refocus. You’ve worked hard for those days and using them is a good thing. Always.
Everyone is trekking through their own personal obstacles on a daily basis, so why not have a community that encourages wellness?
Acknowledging and supporting the mental health of employees shows them that they’re valued as more than just cogs in a machine. The trust that’s built and the communication between managers and employees can truly make a difference between a good company and a thriving one.
Remember, your—and your team’s—mental health matters.
To learn more about how companies can help with employee mental health, check out:
8 Ways Managers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health
Supporting Mental Health in the Post-Pandemic Workplace
10 Creative Ways Organizations Are Supporting The Mental Health Of Remote Employees