How is your day?”
“Stressful! I feel like I’m running around like a headless chicken”.
“Have you tried breathing exercises to reduce stress?”
In some offices, you have the sports buff, the food buff and the social media buff. In my office, I feel like the mental health buff.
When I see people eating lunch at their desk, I encourage them to go for a walk and get some fresh air. When someone tries to take work home with them, I tell them about the importance of work-life balance. And when they seem overwhelmed, you bet I give them the “take a minute and refocus” conversation.
When it comes down to it, the statistics of mental health are worrying. One in five people will struggle with their mental health at one point in their lives.
The reality was that most people in our organisation have either personally struggled or have supported a loved one who has faced mental health issues. By making a month dedicated to our own health & well-being, we were able to get the conversation started, make people aware of their own triggers and provide our workforce with the strength to speak up without the stigma or judgement that can come attached.
As a member of Randstad’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, I was asked to be involved in the project focused on Randstad’s Health and Well-being Month and I was excited about the opportunity to create importance around health & well-being in the workplace. I have a burning passion to help people maintain a positive mindset at work and this was the platform needed to get the important message across. Yet, with 28 offices around Australia and almost 1,000 employees to get on board with my vision, it was going to be quite the challenge. Here’s what I learnt during the month.
- Developing a theme each week of the month really helped focus attention. We planned to look at: Self Care, R U OK?, Mindfulness and Gratitude.
- Planning events helped create engagement. I decided to create events around the country. The first? A fun run. Getting everyone around the country to put on their joggers and hit the pavement with their colleagues to get away from the office and encourage conversations and exercise. As the day approached, I was more and more certain that the lack of response from those around me meant the month was a flop. But, at around 2 pm, after people in the Brisbane office had joined me outside, our internal message board was blowing up. Canberra, Sydney, Darwin, Logan, Adelaide. All our offices were getting involved!
- Let your people share their stories. On R U OK? Day, every office had a morning tea to create awareness of the important conversation that we all forget to have. On the week we focused on gratitude, my colleagues were quick to nominate someone or something they are grateful for. In fact, over the whole experience, it was clear that people cared and genuinely wanted to be involved.
takeaways from the experience.
As the month went on and people continued to get involved in the activities that we had planned internally, it quickly became clear that people genuinely wanted to support and encourage each other. Having a positive mindset and a sense of well-being was important to people at work.
When we started this month, I doubted my own ability to achieve action in such a large organisation. But with a supportive and understanding team, we all contributed to the success of the month. The aim of this program was to foster an environment that people felt comfortable to talk about mental health openly and freely. Judging by the involvement and enthusiasm shown, we are well on this journey to creating a more inclusive and supportive workplace.
If you would like to learn more about inclusion and diversity in the Workplace reach out to Kerry McQuillian our GM of Diversity and Inclusion.