These five daily practices can be implemented by business leaders who are looking to build resilience into their workplace culture and create happier, more fulfilled employees.
The US’ youth are struggling. Even before the pandemic, more than half reported feeling anxious or depressed; and many are not yet prepared to thoughtfully handle the many emotions they feel each day. And that stress only increases when school is in session, with the additional pressure to succeed academically. In addition to the typical stressors, teens’ lives were further disrupted as they were forced into isolation and learning behind computer screens — also missing out on critical social development and significant adolescent milestones.
In response to the ongoing youth mental health crisis, LG started a program in 2017 that brings together leaders in social emotional learning, education and the science of happiness to form the Life’s Good: Experience Happiness program. In collaboration with Discovery Education, Be Strong, CASEL, Greater Good Science Center and Inner Explorer, the program provides science-backed and curriculum-approved resources to help educators and students practice six sustainable happiness skills for life-long social and emotional wellbeing: gratitude, human connection, positive outlook, purpose, generosity and mindfulness.
But mental health challenges don’t disappear once people graduate from high school. Many adults are also facing stressors impacting their mental wellbeing, which have only been exacerbated by the global pandemic, back-to-school season and uncertainties surrounding the return to the office. Thankfully, employers are taking notice. In fact, a survey by Willis Towers Watson found 87 percent of employers said stress and burnout are issues for their workforce; and more than three-quarters cited mental and behavioral health as the main focus to improve workers’ health over the next three years. The happiness skills that we promote through Experience Happiness can also be implemented by business leaders who are looking to embed this type of programming into their workplace culture — ultimately building resilience and creating happier, more fulfilled employees.
In conjunction with our nonprofit partners, Experience Happiness recommends five daily activities that business leaders could consider for their employees to practice happiness and build a more resilient workforce.
Carve out time to take a mental break
It’s easy for employees to get bogged down in task after task and meeting after meeting without taking any time for themselves. Business leaders can encourage their workers to block time on their calendars each day to step away from their desks and decompress — even if it’s just for five minutes. Employees can take this opportunity to sit outside and eat their lunch or take a short walk to grab a coffee. This time away from the desk can improve focus and concentration, and provides the opportunity for amental reset — helping to avoid burnout and feelings of mental and physical fatigue and creating a more positive outlook for the remainder of the workday.
Build in a one-minute meditation
If your employees are having an especially busy day and aren’t able to take an extended break, you can also provide resources to implement a one-minute meditation at their desk. Employees can do this by simply closing their eyes and practicing a minute of silence or by using a guided meditation if the office is noisy. Consider sending around an email blast with strategies or resources for employees to utilize to make the habit easier to practice. Although one minute may not seem long enough to fully practice mindfulness, meditation has been linked to better emotional regulation and an improved ability to cope with stress. To encourage employees to practice mindfulness throughout the day, LG employees are all given free access to Inner Explorer — an online mindfulness platform designed to support mental health and wellbeing through Mindfulness-Based Social Emotional Learning (MBSEL).
Practice active listening
In the workplace, effective communication among colleagues is essential for employees to feel understood and valued. Business leaders should encourage employees to practice active listening, which keeps you engaged with your conversation partner in a positive way. When someone engages in active listening, it helps establish trust and foster empathy between both parties. A few ways to participate in active listening include:
Show the speaker you are paying attention by making eye contact and avoiding distractions such as incoming messages.
Ask clarifying questions if there is anything you are unsure about.
As a listener, paraphrase the speaker’s key points periodically to ensure you are correctly understanding what they are saying and how they are feeling.
Foster natural touchpoints for human connection
Because of the pandemic, some employees are continuing to work remotely while others are returning to the office. This disruption of the typical, pre-COVID office environment has caused many businesses to face difficulty replicating the human connection that we took for granted. In order to re-establish natural ways for employees to connect with their peers, business leaders should create opportunities to replicate “water cooler talk.” Some ideas include putting on a virtual game night during the last hour of the workday, carving out time at the beginning of meetings for employees to chat about what they did over the weekend, and using messaging tools for people with specific interests to discuss their mutual passions.
Encourage people to take time out of their day to give back to others
Multiple studies show that volunteering improves mental health, lowers blood pressure and improves happiness. Business leaders can create opportunities for employees to give back by sharing resources and supporting nonprofits looking for volunteers. In addition, they could also identify a local nonprofit and set aside a day for employees to take part in corporate volunteering. For example, at LG, our employees have participated in World Environment Day — tackling environmental conservation projects around the country. Another option is to provide a few hours a month where employees can step away from their day-to-day job to volunteer. Since many nonprofits need help during the weekdays, this is a great way to incentivize people to giveback and will also allow employees to take a break from the office and contribute to the greater good.