Let’s talk about workplace mental health
We firmly believe in sharpening the saw—taking a step back to rest and reflect before returning to the task at hand. That way, we approach projects with our minds primed for creativity and innovation. Through practices like unlimited paid time off, weekly check-ins, “ghost days,” company-wide mental health days and more, we advocate for the wellbeing of every member of the Yak Pak and make workplace mental health a company priority.
We’re sharing all about our company-wide mental health days and the benefits we’ve discovered since implementing them, plus the other practices we follow to keep our team mentally healthy. Here’s what we do and how it could help your team.
Why should businesses lean into mental health?
Studies have shown that the long-term psychological consequences of collective traumas like a pandemic can last a decade or more.
Since the pandemic began, not only has our collective stress increased but the ways we typically relax or catch our breath have also been disrupted. Economic stress, social strife, racial tension and a difficult election year have only compounded the struggle. According to Mental Health America’s Mind the Workplace 2021 Report, nine in 10 employees reported that work stress impacts their mental health and four in five feel emotionally drained after work. In a survey performed by Asana, 71% of workers experienced burnout in 2020. Remote work typically means longer days, more meetings and fewer natural breaks, and the public health crisis has made travel and vacation difficult if not impossible for some.
Employers have a responsibility to their teams to improve the culture around workplace mental health. Team morale, whether for better or worse, is contagious. So let’s talk about what we do to help.
What are company-wide mental health days?
“The benefit of a company mental health day, as opposed to a single day off, is that all the wheels stop turning,” says Yakkety Yak CEO Ashley Logan.
At Yakkety Yak, Company-wide mental health days are when our office closes and the whole team takes the full day to reflect, de-stress, tackle creative projects or spend time with family. Our CEO Ashley Logan wanted to give the team an opportunity to make time for themselves and their mental health—especially during the pandemic. With the whole team out of the office, we can disconnect without worrying about checking email to see what we’re missing and without the stress of coming back to a full inbox. There’s a natural sentiment in any industry that others have to pick up your work if you’re out of office. Mental health days eliminate that extra stress because everyone is on the same schedule.
“I think that sometimes small business owners are intimidated by giving time off and intimidated by leaning into mental health. I was so encouraged after our most recent day when the team came back revitalized, sharing about what they did, projects they tackled. It made a big difference in everyone’s demeanor,” says Ashley.
While we have had a few mental health days during the pandemic, our first was a day for reflection during the week of protests following the murder of George Floyd. As a company and as people, we had to acknowledge what was happening in the world. So we decided to reduce work stress during a difficult time by closing our office and rescheduling meetings and deadlines to give our team time to rest, reflect and react.
But it isn’t always about taking a day to unwind. There are many different things you can do as a business to help with mental health.
Other Ways We Support Our Team’s Mental Health
- Non-work-related check-in meetings. In a remote setting, we don’t have the opportunity to catch up while making a pot of coffee or going out to lunch together. So we adopted a policy that encourages everyone on the team to check in with at least one other person each week specifically to talk about something other than work. That way, the team can share what is going on in their lives—both the joys and the struggles.
- “Ghost” days. At the end of the year, we take time to relax and recharge by canceling meetings and avoiding deadlines between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This gives the team time to take it easy, sleep in late, read a book—or for those who decide to, keep working ahead.
- Competitive benefits. Offering competitive benefits like unlimited PTO and quality health and dental insurance can eliminate a source of stress for team members. Though we offer company-wide mental health days, team members are encouraged to take time off when they need it, whether for mental or physical health, family, travel or just to relax.
- Summer hours. Aside from giving the team time to enjoy the warm weather, summer-hours programs provide flexibility and choice when it comes to schedules. This translates to a few extra daylight hours to get projects or errands done or lets team members hit the road early for a weekend getaway.
We consider workplace mental health a top priority. Encouraging time away from the office should not be scary—in fact, it is vital for the mental and physical health of a well-oiled team. Learn more about how we put our core values front and center and build a team that is aligned with our values, work ethic and culture.