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Debbie McNamara

 Tags: Mental Health

Employee mental wellness should be a major concern for employers. Every year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental illness or mental health problem. These employees may miss work or come to work even when they don’t feel well, which harms productivity in the workplace. They may need to claim short-term disability benefits, which can increase employee benefits costs.

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For these reasons, companies shouldn’t neglect employee mental wellness. There are many ways you can boost mental wellness in the workplace, and volunteering is an easy place to start. Volunteering can help decrease depression since it helps people build a support system. It can also help reduce stress levels. To encourage volunteering and boost employee mental wellness, employers can try these strategies.

Facilitate Volunteering with Flexible Work Schedules

Some volunteer opportunities can be done after work or on the weekends, but not all of them. Some charities need volunteers during regular business hours. For example, soup kitchens or meal delivery services need volunteers during the lunch hour.

To make it easier for employees to volunteer, try to offer flexible work schedules. If coverage isn’t an issue in your workplace, you could allow employees to take longer lunches to make time for volunteering. You could also let employees shift their arrival or departure times to volunteer. Employees can make up the hours later in the week.

Provide Paid Time off for Volunteering

Some companies are now offering paid time off for volunteering. Employees can take time off during the workday to volunteer at their charity of choice and get paid for it. Encouraging volunteering during the workday makes it easy for employees with busy schedules to contribute to the community. The pay could also encourage non-volunteers to give volunteering a try.

Companies with formal volunteer policies provide an average of eight paid volunteering hours per year. Employees could use all the hours in the same day or take them in two-hour blocks throughout the year.

Organize Days of Service in the Community

Days of service are another way to help employees volunteer. On these days, employees are encouraged to volunteer for a chosen non-profit or event. Some employees won’t be able to participate in the event you’ve chosen, so ensure participation is optional.

For example, you and your employees could pick up trash on Earth Day. These organized volunteering days give employees from different areas of the company the opportunity to work together on an important task. This reduces isolation and adds variety to employees’ routines.

Donate to Employees’ Favourite Charities

To encourage employees to volunteer more often, you could create a volunteer grant program. These programs reward employees’ favourite charities with monetary grants. When employees volunteer a certain number of hours at a certain charity, you could contribute a set amount of money to the charity.

To participate in this program, employees can submit details about where they’ve volunteered and how many hours they spend volunteering. You can use this information to distribute grants.

Recognize Employee Volunteering

Your employees are already recognized for the hard work they do in the office, and you can recognize their volunteer accomplishments in the same way. Employees who volunteer a certain number of hours per year could receive a certificate, employee award, or even a bonus. Some companies are even integrating volunteer recognition into their traditional performance reviews. The type of recognition you choose will vary depending on your employees’ preferences and your company’s goals.

Employers can boost employee mental wellness by encouraging volunteering. Try some or all of the above strategies to encourage your employees to start volunteering or to volunteer more often.

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Debbie McNamara

Debbie is the perfect fit for business owners and employers, providing a great resource to those looking to retain and engage employees. Employee Benefits Consultant is her official title, but what she really offers is a business administration education, an LLQP certification, 20 years of professional experience in upper management, and an understanding of the needs and challenges facing both employers and employees. Off the clock, Debbie takes great pride in giving back to her community as an active member on a number of volunteer boards. With whatever extra time is left over, she can be found fulfilling a lifetime commitment to health and fitness by participating in individual sports such as running and CrossFit, as well as a variety of team sports including softball, indoor soccer, and volleyball.
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