Employees should have access to safe, calm, and private space(s) at their company. This space can be used for employees to take a break from stress, recover from hearing bad news, or tend to health needs. Many employers have already set aside specific spaces for nursing mothers. Depending on the size and scope of the company, a wellness space could be multiple rooms, a single room, or a common area.
Here are some tips for creating a wellness space:
Consider setting aside a lockable room. Focus on making the room a calm and relaxing space. At Mental Health America, we have a wellness room that any employee can use. The room contains a lounge sofa, weighted blankets, and low lighting. Employees can bring their phones and listen to relaxing music. Consider including a radio or other device that can quietly play calm music for employees who use it. Avoid using too many scented products, as many employees have allergies or sensitivities. Have a sign that employees can hang on the door to show the space is in use. Encourage executive leaders to normalize use of the room and show employees that it’s okay to use it.
If you can’t designate an entire room, have a space set aside in a common area. This might be helpful for retail settings or restaurants that may only have one common area for employees. Set aside part of the common area that is designated for quiet time and relaxation. Use comfy chairs and blankets to signify it’s a different space. Have signage around that encourages quiet use of the space to relax and unwind. Consider providing calming and soothing activities in the space, such as adult coloring books or journal pages, that employees can use to decompress. Again, encourage management to use these spaces when possible.
If you have multiple locations, ask each location to create a space. Oftentimes it’s easier to set up a wellness space in a headquarters or corporate offices. But if you have multiple locations for stores or franchisees, it’s important to have quiet spaces designated for employees there, too.
Encourage employees to use their full breaks. Many hourly employees are required by law to take breaks for certain times during the day. Encourage employees to use the full break to recharge and set a culture where time off is praised. Plan staffing contingencies for when employees take breaks. Rotate employee breaks so that it’s fair to all employees--so that someone isn’t always stuck with a 3pm lunch break every day, unless that is the employee’s preference. Crosstrain employees so they can fill in for each other during break periods.
Don’t disturb people during their breaks. Unless there is an emergency, make sure you’re treating the breaks that employees take as important as you would any time they spend working. Don’t call people off breaks because the line is busy; come up with other solutions to speed up customer service during breaktime. Communicate that breaktime is important even during rushes. If you end up disturbing an employee during a break, make sure that employee is given adequate time to rest and recharge after a rush has died down.