As a benefits organization, we know that mental health is a crucial part of overall health. We also know that mental wellness means taking breaks from time to time, simply to do what makes you happy.
And while this was the first time we've done this, it certainly won't be the last — because it was a big hit with our team. Read on to see how some Navanauts spent their time off, as well as some tips on how your company can launch their own Mental Wellness Day.
Navanaut Mental Wellness Day: A Play-by-Play
"My mental wellness day consisted of 'Daddy/Daughter' day at my daughter's school, then I took the kids bowling and to an arcade. They thought it was amazing to go bowling on a 'work day.' (P.S. I never knew how much I 'liked' broccoli...)"
- Joe Donovan, Chief Revenue Officer and Benefits Consulting Lead(based in Armonk, NY)
"I'm currently working on the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Challenge, so I spent my day cranking out 5,422 words, all while cuddling my cat Olive!"
- Kate Wickersham, AR Accountant (based in Seattle, WA)
"I had the opportunity to see Atlanta Sports history! Last time we were champions was when I was one year old."
- Veenal Mulji, Account Executive (based in Atlanta, GA)
"I got to finish an awesome book (The Dutch House by Ann Patchet) and then started another (The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) by Katie Mack)! Then went on a nice family walk on a Florida beach."
- Erin Phinney, Senior Marketing Manager (based in Sandwich, MA, but currently in Siesta Key, FL!)
"Spent the mental health day with the fam and took a hike that I'd been wanting to take for a while now. And it was gorgeous!"
- Kunle Oyedele, Senior Software Engineer (based in Denver, CO)
Want to start your company's own mental wellness day?
Here are some tips to get started:
This day should be considered a bonus day off, outside of paid time off, vacation days, sick days, holidays — totally separate.
Give employees a heads up some time in advance. A good rule of thumb: announce one month before the scheduled day off. This gives everyone time to get their projects in order, block off their calendars, and plan something fun.
Make sure to explain the why behind the day. Take this opportunity to highlight your organization's commitment to employee wellbeing. If this initiative aligns with your employer's core values, make that connection clear in your employee communications.
Allow for flexibility. If a team (or an individual) is working on a time-sensitive project, offer the option to take the day later on as a floating holiday instead. For example, our mental wellness day fell during the busy open enrollment season for our Client Service team, so they are opting to take a team-wide day off in December.
Lead by example. Encourage managers and senior leadership to stay off Slack or email during the day. Bonus points if they share their fun plans to get their team psyched for the day.
Consider letting clients know ahead of time. If you're a client-facing organization, share this news externally at least 1-2 weeks in advance.
Give your employees "out of office" autoreply email copy. If you need some inspiration, here's what the Navanauts' OOO messages looked like:
Nava is closed on Friday for a company wellness day. But no worries — we'll be back in the office, well-rested and recharged, on Monday, November 8th.
As a benefits company, we know mental health is a crucial piece of overall health. We'd love to help our clients find their own path forward on this front. More info to come on our blog on how you can start a wellness day at your company!
(And if you're reading this, might I suggest you join us by taking five for some R&R? We think you deserve it.)
After the day is over, follow up for feedback. Check in with folks to see how it went and how they felt about it. Consider sending a survey in the week following.
Continue celebrating mental wellness, post-Wellness Day and year-round. After you're back in office, encourage employees to reflect on their day off by sharing photos and stories, while also highlighting your mental health benefits. Consider sending a company-wide email recapping the day and reminding folks of the mental health services and support available to them.
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