09 Jan VETERINARY WELLBEING ALLIANCE NEWSLETTER, ISSUE 1 – 2023
GEORGIA EDITION • Newsletter • Issue 1, 2023
Here is the latest update from the Veterinary Wellbeing Alliance, with curated content to help veterinary professionals focus on their wellbeing. Subscribers receive this resource in addition to complimentary access to Listeners On Call.
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Preventative care is key for patient wellness, but it’s easy to negate the concept when it comes to our own mental health.
“While taking mental inventory may not always be as straightforward as listening to a heartbeat, there are warning signs we can begin to notice in ourselves that we are approaching a certain mental capacity,” the Listeners On Call team writes. “There are many ways we can help our future selves…and practice the preventative care we always encourage in our clients.”
Voicing our challenges out loud, identifying and naming our stressors, and listening to others discuss their own similar issues are all ways to practice this aspect of self-care.
For more advice on preventative self-care, read the full article from Listeners On Call.
How can managers respond when an employee shares a mental health challenge?
With mental health a growing concern in the United States, particularly since the pandemic, workplace leaders may have to discuss these issues with their employees.
Harvard Business Review offers advice to help managers prepare:
Be ready for vulnerable conversations. Workplace leaders should have questions ready in case they need to discuss mental health with an employee, said Jen Porter, chief operating officer at the nonprofit Mind Share Partners. Porter advises leaders to ask questions about the impact of the employee’s mental health challenge—not the cause.
Set and protect boundaries. Clinical psychologist Emily Anhalt, co-founder and chief clinical officer at the mental health gym Coa, describes “boundaried vulnerability”: sharing enough with others to invite connection but not so much that it overwhelms the team.
Showing up is the most important thing. Being able to listen to employees and figure out what support they need may be the most important thing a manager can do. It’s best to figure out what level of support the employee wants from their manager.
Daisey Auger-Dominguez, chief people officer at Vice Media Group, said she asks team members in need of support this question: “Do you need me to witness, help or distract you right now?” That way, she said, the manager can avoid making assumptions about what the team member needs.
How can workplace leaders make sure their mental health programs get results?
While many workplace mental health programs focus on reducing stress and promoting initiatives to create a more enjoyable work environment, these programs don’t necessarily demonstrate real impacts. Writing in Forbes, HR expert Bill Howatt describes several pitfalls leaders should watch out for so they can ensure success for their wellness programs:
Focusing on programs instead of behaviors. “The desired outcome is not the number of employees participating in a program or policy,” Howatt says. “It’s understanding the key performance behaviors that maximize workers’ and leaders’ opportunities to experience a psychologically safe workplace.”
Neglecting to understand barriers preventing employee engagement. Leaders need to consider obstacles such as privacy or stigma concerns that may make employees resistant to participating in mental health initiatives, Howatt says. HR professionals can ask workers and leaders what programs are and aren’t working and create an action plan to draw workers’ input.
Lack of measurement. “It is essential to understand what programs are being used and how workers value them,” Howatt says. “This is the only way to understand if programs are working as intended and creating the required habits….Program participation alone does not mean transformation or new habits.”
Not anticipating how hard it is to change human behavior. Giving employees access to resources like mental health apps can help prevent mental illness or encourage them to get needed assistance. But adherence may only last a few weeks if the app isn’t attached to a strategy or program that involves follow-through, encouragement and incentives, Howatt says.
To make workplace wellness programs more effective, improve communication.
In Psychology Today, communication researcher Erin Craw examines recent data to help workplace leaders understand how they can improve communication around mental health.
“Instead of simply offering a wellness program and incentives for participation, leadership should focus on improving communication about health and wellness to increase buy-in and long-term engagement,” Craw says.
She suggests two steps for workplace leaders to improve communication:
Learn from your employees. “Organizations should collect qualitative data to gain first-hand insight from employees to understand their current perspectives on the messaging around mental health and the authenticity of leadership’s devotion to their wellbeing,” Craw writes. She recommends focus groups and one-on-one interviews to get this information.
Enhance messaging about health and wellness. Leaders should find opportunities to incorporate health and wellness discussions into routine training and meetings to normalize this type of communication, Craw says.
Additionally, she writes, organizations should “offer opportunities for relationship building, provide skills-based training on peer support and educate leadership on having difficult conversations and authentically communicating about the importance of wellness.”
Research shows the potential benefits of a 4-day workweek
Improved productivity, revenue growth, and less stress and burnout were among the benefits companies noted in a study on four-day workweeks.
Data is being collected by 4 Day Week Global, or 4DWG, which began a worldwide pilot program in 2022 for companies and organizations that have adopted (or are interested in adopting) four-day workweek models with no reduction in pay.
New research analyzed data from the first and second trials of the project, involving 33 companies. When asked whether they would continue using the four-day model, none of the companies answered “no” or “likely no,” said Boston College professor of sociology Juliet Schor, who serves on the 4DWG academic board and conducted the research with another BC associate professor, Wen Fan, and University College Dublin faculty member Orla Kelly.
“Hours reduced, wellbeing improved, and key organizational bottom lines sustained—all of these happened without the need for workers to intensify their work demands,” Fan said of the latest findings.
Schor and Fan said companies have been able to maintain productivity under the model by cutting activities with questionable or low value, such as meetings, which are often a source of complaints. They added that four-day workweeks allow employees to use their extra day off for things like doctor appointments and errands, so they don’t have to cram those activities into their workdays.
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