Declining mental health worldwide has been considered the ‘second pandemic’. In America alone, the number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has increased by a whopping 93 percent and 62 percent respectively in the past year. Taking care of employee mental health has become paramount to companies, and a big part of their efforts has been organising group wellness activities.
Why group activities matter for mental health
The world is more connected today than ever before because of technology. Yet, studies have drawn connections between the increase of using technology to stay connected, and feelings of isolation and disconnection from real life. Add on social distancing measures and feelings of uncertainty, and we have a global society of people who feel extremely lonely and anxious at this time. Bringing your team together for regular group activities can help create a sense of belonging and human connection. even if it's virtual. Having a routine is also connected to better mental health. By scheduling weekly team activities, your employees will have a sense of normalcy that keeps them grounded.
The key is for team managers and HR managers to use this time to check in on employees for their well-being, not for business productivity. After all, a company is nothing without its people, and a healthy work culture can go a long way for business growth.
Here are three activity ideas that can help promote better mental health by providing employees with the support they need from their work community.
Identify common ground
The first thing that managers need to do is establish a safe space for people to be themselves. If team members are not used to this, break the ice by helping them realise they have more in common than they think! Here’s one way to get a conversation going:
- Create a list of real-life scenarios that a person might experience during this work from home (WFH) period. It could be humorous too. Some examples could be: forgetting what day of the week it is, scrambling to wake up just 15 minutes before a team Zoom call, being interrupted by kids every 10 minutes, or having a partner who dictates grocery shopping on a video call.
- Put these on Pigeonhole Live’s Open-Ended Poll and have people vote for any scenario that they identify with, or even suggest scenarios of their own. As results accumulate in real-time, people may start to realise how common some of these scenarios actually are!
- Then, pick out the most popular scenarios and talk about it as a group so people have a space to express what’s really going on at home and develop group empathy for one another.
The key takeaway from this activity is letting people know they are not alone in this.
Person first, employee second
It’s important to remind each other that behind the numerous emails and high-pressure projects, we’re still humans worth getting to know and understand better. Give your team a fun and easy way to get to know each other better by playing a game called Two Truths, One Lie, also using Pigeonhole Live’s Multiple Choice Poll . Here’s how:
- Collect two true statements and one untrue statement from 10 different people. Make sure the statements cover interesting information about team member It could be about their first part-time job, a country they have visited, how big their extended family is, what their favourite childhood past time was, or anything else that’s appropriate for a workplace conversation.
- Set up a Multiple Choice Poll on Pigeonhole Live, and have one poll question for each individual with the three statements as options. If you’ve collected statements from 10 people, you will have 10 poll questions.
- Ask everyone to vote on the answer they think is the lie. Once the correct answers are revealed, everyone gets to learn something new about each other.
Here are more ideas on interesting polls that you could do with the Live Polling tool.
Co-create a new normal
Many remote work policies that your company might have implemented in the past may not leave room for the amount of uncertainty and change that people are experiencing right now. A very practical and useful team activity could be for managers to co-create a new set of remote work practices that really meet the needs of their team members.
Start by finding out what team members’ preferences are. Managers can run a survey using Pigeonhole Live’s Survey tool to do this.
- Create open ended questions that help managers understand where team members are coming from. You could ask, “As you are adjusting to working from home, what time of day do you notice yourself being most productive?” or “What kind of issues, if any, do you feel you might be facing when trying to access work-related content or information remotely during this time?”. You can also ask how they feel about the current work policies and what they feel has changed the most for them. Be specific if possible.
- Once the answers are collected, discuss the results as a team. Managers should allow team members to make suggestions. They can explain that this exercise will help upper management better understand how to provide support when it comes to making the final decision on these suggestions.
- Managers can then bring these suggestions to the HR manager or upper management before providing the team with possible solutions later on.
This activity can be done regularly to check in with team members as things may change very quickly from one week to the next. The message here is that the company cares for its employees and that it’s possible to still do good work while having their needs met.
The pressure HR managers feel during this time can be high. But even as we are presented with challenges that we have never met before, know that we can navigate this brave new world together as we move forward one step at a time.