Well-Being in the Workplace

Today’s blog post is written by Skye Hughes, Client Support Manager, PatronManager.

Recently, the Director of our Client Services department tasked me with developing a program to focus on the mental and emotional well-being of our Client Services teams. As a meditation instructor, I was excited to adapt various self-awareness tools I’ve practiced throughout the years to the work we do here daily.

Throughout this process, I’ve come to realize more acutely what the impacts of prioritizing well-being in the workplace are, as well as the risks of not. I’ve also found that while I may not be breaking new ground with the content of our program, much less the fundamental idea that it’s important to take care of ourselves psychologically; it’s fairly rare that this is prioritized at an organizational level, with time actually devoted to directly supporting staff in this area. 

The framework of this program centers on the idea of “being ok.” To me this means:

  • A person’s basic needs are met
  • Their emotions feel manageable
  • They can succeed in what they set out to do

I’ve spent a significant amount of time not being ok myself. In reflecting on the moments I struggled most, I realize now how my psychological landscape really affected my work. I was consistently plagued by things like:

  • Thinking I had to push through my work without taking breaks 
  • Feeling like a bad person if I made a mistake, no matter how small 
  • Being scared to ask for help because I should know how to do something 
  • Avoiding big projects because I didn’t know where to start

It’s not hard to connect the dots and see how inefficient these thought patterns made me. My quality of work was lower, which made me feel bad, which made me more vulnerable to mistakes, which led to more problems.

Eventually, after enough struggle, I came around to the idea that it was ok to take care of my psychological state, and furthermore, it was critical to my work that I did! So I decided to choose a paradigm that hinged on committing my loyalty to being ok, which couldn’t be superseded by others like productivity, efficiency, innovation, etc. Because being ok is critical to the success of all of those other things! If I was ok, I could do anything. 

What I’m seeing now is that this also holds true on a team level. If each member of our team is feeling ok, we’ll operate at our best collectively! It’s the key to the quality of work we do for our clients, our overall well-being, and the integrity of our mission. 

So, what exactly does this “being ok” program look like here at PatronManager? Approximately once a quarter, I’ll lead a session in small groups with the goal of helping my colleagues focus their thoughts and spend time working through any mental blocks or challenges. I usually start each session by sharing some meditation concepts, and then we dive into various exercises to uncover any negative thought patterns we as individuals may be having. For example, I’ll give the group a set of writing prompts such as: 

  • Describe a situation in which you struggled. 
  • In this specific instance, were there thoughts that inhibited your ability to do the work? 
  • Were there thoughts that said the situation required that you feel bad? 
  • From the perspective of the anxiety, what terrible things might happen? 

Then using these answers, we’ll work through different ways we can reframe these thoughts in our minds. 

But dedicating attention to well-being at an organization doesn’t have to mirror our program. The support offered can take on any form and size, from the creation of an internal message board or chat group to the topic being a consistent action item on company-wide meeting agendas to a yearly retreat; whatever your organization has the capacity and resources for! I wouldn’t worry too much about getting it “right,” or whether or not every staff member will want to participate. 

The important thing is that you make it known to your employees that their personal well-being is a priority to your organization. This will create an environment of permission and encouragement for maintaining personal mental and emotional health. And if each staff member is feeling ok, chances are their quality of work will be higher, and your organization will greatly benefit.

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