As small business owners, we’ve all seen the differences in our employees as we make our way cautiously into the post-Covid era. Employees are coming back to the office, shop or factory a little more stressed out, overwhelmed, anxious and, sometimes, even less focused. The pandemic has taken a mental health toll on all of us and employers don’t have the luxury of concerning themselves with just their own mental wellness. Employers are finding themselves considering the emotional, social and environmental wellness of their employees too, all while trying to maximize efficiency and productivity. Optimizing mental and emotional health is now a major focus for administrators at workplaces and schools the world over. What can you do to support an environment where your employees are mindful, alert and present? Here are four workplace amenities you can offer to ensure your workers are performing at full mental capacity:
If you have limited time, space and budget for wellness activities in your workplace, implementing a daily meditation break is a great option for you. Meditation is the act of concentrating on the breath as it enters and leaves the body while paying attention to how the mind wanders in the midst of executing this simple task. Meditation can be done while seated at a desk or any workstation. There are various apps available to help lead employees through a guided group meditation. Daily meditation can improve focus, work performance and productivity.
The best part: For employers with workers on the clock, a meditation practice takes a time investment of just 5-15 minutes per day and the productivity returns on manyfold.
This one might sound unusual, but the practice of flower arranging shares many of the same mindfulness benefits as meditation. Flower arranging is calming and gets creative juices flowing, and creativity is a proven form of stress relief. The multi-sensory act of creating with flowers, deciding where to put each bloom, deliberating on colors and shapes and working to make something beautiful both enhances the mood and sharpens the mind. In fact, throughout Japanese history, army generals practiced Ikebana, a form of flower arranging, before heading into battle as a way to calm their minds and sharpen their concentration on the battlefield.
The best part: You get to keep the finished product! A beautiful, colorful floral bouquet can adorn the workspace, uplifting moods and filling the air with fragrant scents for days to come.
A yoga practice in the workplace takes space, time and, ideally, an in-person instructor to help employees with their poses. Many large corporations have dedicated rooms where employees can exercise or practice yoga as part of their corporate wellness programs. Small business owners might not have the same resources at their disposal as multinational corporations, but there are ways to integrate some yoga stretches into your workplace no matter what your business size. Yoga’s many benefits also overlap with those of guided meditation. Half an hour of yoga poses per day can increase physical energy, reduce stress, increase focus and decrease absenteeism.
The best part: Yoga boosts physical as well as mental wellness. Yoga helps improve posture (which everybody hunched over a screen all day can use these days) and flexibility and can benefit people suffering from conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.
To get employees inspired and into creative-mode, jumpstart the day’s workflow with some art therapy. Getting your team drawing, painting, coloring and collaging can help build connections, personal relationships, partnerships and team morale. No matter what medium you use as a self-care activity, creating art is similar to flower arranging in that it helps employees destress, calm their minds and decrease burnout, while focusing on creating something beautiful. The practice of self-expression brings the person into the here and now. increases attention to detail and reduces stress.
The best part: Now you have something to put on your workspace walls! Spruce up those dull gray walls and beat the soul-crushing fluorescent lighting with some color and creativity around the workplace. Employees get to see each other’s work, appreciate one another’s talents and understand different perspectives.
Talia Boone is the founder and CEO of Postal Petals ®, a farm-to-table fresh flower delivery service designed for people who like to make their own flower arrangements as a form of creative expression and self-care.