To say the past year has been challenging would be an understatement. Almost every aspect of our lives was turned upside down overnight. The resiliency, commitment, and passion I have seen over the past year is truly inspiring; however, I know that many of us are still struggling with many different implications from COVID-19.
My mother was a family therapist, so I am passionate about the importance of mental health. She used to always say, “Everyone has baggage, and we all need to unpack our suitcases and clean out our laundry from time to time.” I love this comparison – we all need to take the time to unpack and clean up every so often to make sure we are taking the best care of our own selves for our current season of life. Our mental health will have different seasons – just as we get physically sick, we also have positive and negative mental health experiences.
Here are three things I try to incorporate into my daily life to strengthen my wellbeing:
- Practice empathy.
At DHG, we are committed to ending the stigma that often surrounds mental health issues. I hope that each of you feel empowered to reach out to your performance coach or any member of our leadership and HR team to ask for help. We all have the ability to help someone who is struggling by showing care and empathy. Start each meeting by asking others how they are doing and what their daily life is like – these small moments can have a big impact on someone who might be struggling.
We also need to be aware that some team members may suffer from chronic mental illness and conditions, irrespective of COVID-19, and they or a loved one may have struggled with it for years. We need to be mindful of this and watch what we say and do; using seemingly harmless statements like, “That drives me crazy” or “I am going insane” can actually be hurtful or offensive to people who struggle with mental illness on a daily basis. I know because I have had team members with chronic mental illness tell me this.
Empathy also really goes back to our goal of creating a workplace where all feel welcomed and a sense of belonging at DHG. If we can expand our perspectives, learn about different groups and better understand their view of the world, we will create a more empathetic culture.
- Discover how to best use your energy.
I know I mention this whenever I can, but Energy for Life is a program that has truly changed my life and wellbeing. It helped me develop my purpose and understand what is important to me on a daily basis, so I have energy for all parts of my life. The program really helped both my physical and mental wellbeing. Physically, I know I need to eat healthy foods and take the “me time” to exercise regularly to be the best husband, father and teammate. I also focus on stronger mental wellbeing habits like taking the time to unpack and unravel stressors at the end of the day rather than letting them build. Energy for Life has helped me tap into my best self and manage my stress to optimize performance.
As we look to the future of our workforce, Energy for Life will continue to highlight the impact of mental and physical health, and I look forward to sharing more about enhancements to this program in the future.
- Utilize the resources and benefits available.
Understandably, this year has led to increased stress and anxiety for many, myself included. It is harder than ever to shut off our computers at night as the lines of work and home continue to be blurred. I am proud of the way our people have come together to support one another and proud of the ways the firm has created new programs and benefits to support our people. These resources and benefits are specifically designed for us, so do not be afraid or worried to take advantage of these amazing resources.
Below are a few of the new resources we provide to our people and a few of the many ways we have cared for our people during COVID-19 and will continue to do so as we approach re-entry:
- Added benefits for caregivers: With nearly 40% of our workforce facing a childcare crisis during the pandemic, we added new benefits, including Helpr and Cariloop. Helpr is an innovative backup dependent care provider with expanded benefits including an online component with homework help, tutoring, group classes and more for children. We also added a new caregiving concierge service called Cariloop to assist with any type of caregiving responsibilities – a parent, child, sibling, friend – and help walk them through the caregiving journey. We have received great feedback on Cariloop from those who have used this free service – it is a great way to find a therapist or specialist, if needed.
- Continued focus on holistic wellbeing: Wellbeing is not a new focus at DHG. Our people are our number one priority. And with that, that means providing benefits to all our people that support holistic health – mental, physical, emotional and financial. We have continued to offer benefits like Headspace subscriptions and Financial Finesse memberships for all employees, while adding new benefits to support our new normal.
- Upgraded Employee Assistance Program: To better support mental and emotional health, we partnered with a new EAP with expanded “life assistance” benefits to assist with things such as home budgeting, debt management, legal assistance, relocation guidance, and more, which are frequent causes of stress and anxiety.
- Home office support: Our home offices likely did not have all the equipment we needed to be comfortable and successful, so every employee has been provided with stipends for home office supplies.
- Extra holiday to rest, recharge and recover: Rest and recovery are important principles in the Energy for Life program. We cannot be our best selves every day without proper recovery. All DHG employees will enjoy an extra firmwide holiday on Friday, May 28 to recover over a four-day weekend and honor Memorial Day.
- Thank you bonuses: Added stress from this past year has come in many different forms but one area we wanted to support was to reduce financial stress through two thank you bonuses to all of our people. We know there have been extra costs from working at home such as higher power bills, internet, more meals at home during busy season and more. These financial bonuses are another way we say thank you for your hard work, resiliency and commitment to emerging strong over the past year.
DHG is committed to creating a stigma free environment. I encourage each of our teammates to sign the DHG Mental Health End the Stigma pledge and visit our new internal resource Wellbeing at DHG to explore all the resources available to support the health of our people. Take some time and unpack your suitcase – I know it will be beneficial.