Employers That Invest in Employee Mental Health Will Prosper, Says Expert

Enabling employees to work less and focus on their mental or physical health can actually make them more productive, says Sarah Robb O'Hagan, Chief Executive Officer of EXOS.

Employees are under a lot of stress — between a potential recession, working from home, and tough competition, it can be hard to focus on productivity. Many equate working hard with working smart, making employees overwhelmed and overworked while simultaneously getting less done but thinking they’re doing everything right. Reaching a "flow state," in which an employee works with complete focus, is nearly impossible under these conditions, according to O'Hagan. So companies need to begin investing in their employees' recovery to prevent burnout.

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The first step in employee recovery is allowing employees mental health tools and the time to use them. O'Hagan told Quartz that EXOS has a robust health program for employees that provides individual coaching, nutritional advice, physical movement instruction, meditation breaks, breath work, and much more. These are available at all times for employees whenever they may need them. Unplugging and turning off devices should be encouraged, and utilizing paid time off should be mandatory. Managers and executives also have to encourage employees to take time off when they need it. Expecting employees to respond immediately to emails or messages creates a toxic company culture.

O'Hagan also mentions that employees should feel like they can say no to their managers or teams. If they work best in the mornings, O'Hagan says, they should be permitted to abstain from morning meetings to focus on their work. Additionally, they should feel free to unplug and embrace the silence of no notifications, no meetings, and no conversation. Meditation should also be encouraged, even if it's only for a few minutes at a time. All these things will eventually align, O'Hagan says, to foster employee productivity and help them achieve the coveted "flow state."