By Anthony Sartori, a member of MHA's Young Mental Health Leaders Council and Founder and Director of Evolving Minds
This article was originally published by Evolving Minds Inc. and has been re-published on Mental Health America's website with permission. Click here to read the original article.
The impact of COVID-19 and the growing weight of oppression toward marginalized communities have taken a toll on essential workers over the past two years. With more than 800,000 dead from COVID across the United States, frequent mass shootings, and more traumas, we work and live in an often unstable and chaotic world.
With its vision of creating a culture of care, Evolving Minds launched its inaugural Connected Cultures initiative: Mindful Grocery Stores. This pilot with MOM’s Organic Market, a Mid-Atlantic grocery chain with over 20 stores and over 1,600 employees began in April 2021 at its Baltimore City Hampden location.
Employee Mental Health and Innovative Impact
In this three-month pilot, Evolving Minds aimed to build community and cultivate human connection between in-person store team members by practicing positive psychology skills, such as mindfulness, gratitude, joy and kindness, on a daily basis. Mindful Grocery Stores is an empowering model that places employee wellness directly in the hands of the employees. It is a visionary and scalable approach, a new industry benefit that essential workers can call their own.
Mindful Grocery Stores invests in the mental health of hourly and store team members. Evolving Minds’ community-centered model empowers store leaders, with tangible positive psychology skills designed to bring people together – to build a work community where people feel a deep sense of belonging and a connection to the organization’s mission and values. Additionally, Mindful Grocery Stores seeks to connect team members with one another across departmental silos, with meaningful relationships that last a lifetime and create a culture where people care deeply about each other and how they are really doing.
Evolving Minds’ resilience-based curriculum is designed to reduce stress and anxiety, increase resiliency and work vigor, and deepen life satisfaction and meaning. Additionally, mindfulness, gratitude, and positive psychology skills increase employee engagement, communication, and overall teamwork. Long term, the Mindful Grocery Stores pilot is intended to show a decrease in levels of absenteeism, employee work-related burnout, and an overall retention of employees.
Evolving Minds and MOM’s are leading the way and bringing essential employee wellness tools into the work environment for all employees, including those at the store level – creating a work environment where employees are paid to practice mindfulness, joy, gratitude, and kindness skills, every day.
Systemic Approach & Scalable Model
The most compelling feature of the model is its built-in adaptability to account for time, changing logistics, and organizational values. First, the Evolving Minds model embeds itself in the existing systems within MOM’s, starting with the Huddle space. The Huddle is a time before the store opens and after closing, when all employees gather for about 15 minutes for store updates. This is when trained managers will share the resilience skills and practice with the non-management team. Then, as the model settles into the existing structures, it begins to evolve and take on a life of its own, holding true to its roots while adapting with the changing culture.
The Mindful Grocery Stores initiative is an innovative approach through the Connected Cultures program, actively demonstrating how we can care for frontline workers and prioritize their mental health. Evolving Minds welcomes the opportunity to partner with MOM’s Organic Market to create a culture of care.
To see more about the Mindful Grocery Stores pilot, please visit the Evolving Minds website: evolving-minds.org/connected-cultures