As the pandemic (arguably) comes to a close, most teams have been left with heightened mental health issues. Anxiety is at an all-time high, more than 75% of the workforce reports experiencing burnout in their current job, and 81% of employees are looking to their employer to give them more robust mental and emotional health tools. A new generation of millennial and Gen Z workers, who place a large emphasis on holistic mental and emotional health, is starting to have a louder voice in the workforce. They want benefits that can serve diverse mental health needs beyond traditional wellness employee assistance programs that mainly focus on health data collection and step tracking, which are often unintuitive and receive low engagement.
Today’s workforce desires benefits that provide access to mental health practices they already engage with in their personal lives. Yoga, meditation, hypnotherapy, emotional freedom techniques (EFTs)/tapping, acupressure, personal training, and mindfulness coaching are just a few of these often requested therapies you might consider adding to your roster of well-being benefits.
The great news is that these holistic practices also improve clinical mental health outcomes. Recent studies suggest that therapies that address the mind-body-spirit connection holistically are effective at reducing clinical anxiety and depression. These studies reveal some paradigm-shifting findings: Mindfulness can be as effective as medication in treating anxiety, and exercise can be as effective at treating depression as antidepressants.
Mental health is not a one-size-fits-all issue. For some, talk therapy is helpful, but it can be intimidating to others. Some might love solo practices like meditation and yoga to reduce anxiety, while others might need something more highly guided, like hypnotherapy or tapping/EFT, to get to the root of a trauma, an addiction, or even grief. For others, a no-questions-asked mental health day could contribute to feeling supported and less burned out. To help meet every team member’s diverse needs, benefits leaders should provide a variety of platform solutions and policies to reduce stress, improve productivity and team morale, and ultimately increase retention.
Here are a few evidence-based holistic practices you should consider adding to your benefits program.
Mindfulness Coaches Can Help With Stress and Interpersonal Relationships
Not everyone has a clinical diagnosis, but everyone can benefit from working with a coach to learn mindfulness techniques for coping with everyday stress and workplace challenges. A mindfulness coach can also help employees improve interpersonal relationships at work, guiding individuals toward better collaboration and communication skills. Effective coaches provide tools and resources, either one-to-one or a workshop format, that individuals can use when a stressful or challenging situation arises.
Anonymity Is Important for Self-Care
Not all employees want to engage in self-development, holistic care, or even fitness while they’re physically at work. Self-care can be sensitive or private for some individuals, so they should have options for tools they can use at home on their own time. Consider offering a membership to a digital platform that provides access to holistic practices on a personal device.
Fitness Is for the Few, Mindful Movement Is for All
Everyone can benefit from moving their body, yet many fitness benefits, especially fitness challenges, can feel intimidating or out of reach. It’s important to offer “movement” benefits that go beyond the traditional concept of fitness. Mindful movement practices like yoga, qigong, tai chi, stretching, walking, and myofascial release are all great ways to get people moving and reconnected to their body.
Consider Offering Practices That Help Cope With Trauma
Seventy percent of U.S. adults have experienced at least one major trauma in their lifetime. Trauma-informed therapy or holistic practices that can help process a traumatic event such as hypnotherapy or EFT/tapping can be very helpful for individuals who are working through a past or recent trauma when other therapies like talk therapy may not be effective. Unaddressed trauma can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and severe levels of anxiety.
Offer Access to Traditional Practices Like Ayurveda, and Traditional Chinese Medicine
As Western medicine gets more and more advanced, more science-backed wisdom is being found in ancient and traditional medicines such as Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, and traditional Chinese medicine, which includes therapies such as acupuncture, acupressure, gua sha, and cupping. Acupuncture has been found to help with not only stress but also headaches, back pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms, and a range of other conditions.
With an evolving workforce that wants to feel supported mentally and emotionally, leaders should consider providing their workforce with access to an array of mental and emotional health tools that support mind-body-emotional care.
Tegan Bukowski is the Co-founder and CEO of WellSet, the first digital holistic health studio to offer live and on-demand classes in 20+ holistic health practices to individuals and teams.