Modern life is fast-paced and stress-filled, but these last 12 months have been especially challenging. Long working hours, endless calls, video calls and working around deadlines are one thing. Add politics, protests and a pandemic to the mix: and you have a year from hell.

Stress in the result. And our stress levels are at an all-time high. According to a recent article from the mental health charity Mind:

“at any one time, at least one in six workers are experiencing common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression.”

April is Stress Awareness Month, so we decided to share what we do as a company to help our team cope with stress in these challenging times.

Acknowledgement

‍The first step is talking openly about the challenge. At Morrow, we strongly believe that mental health is as important as physical health.

We ensure our team feel supported through 1-to-1 monthly meetings with their line manager where they can discuss any personal or professional issues. We also offer the opportunity to work from home, which means our development team can work from anywhere in the world, allowing them to travel and not have to spend their lives stuck in traffic. 

This offers a solid baseline, but we wanted to do more. So we set off on a mission to create a Mental Health and Wellness policy that could serve everyone in our growing company. 

Employees that feel valued and looked after are more likely to stay with you for the long run. A good mental health and wellness policy will also attract new talent and help retain brilliant developers.

Research

We started with an anonymous survey of our team to see what they thought would be most helpful for managing their mental health. Optimistically, we assumed there would be one or two common answers on which we could focus.

It turns out our needs are very varied! There was quite a mixture of answers - ranging from professional help to app subscriptions. There was no single solution that would work for everyone in the company.

So what to do? Through research into what other companies have done, we came across a simple and innovative idea that fitted the bill - a ‘Wellness Pot’.

Implementation

The fundamental idea is that each individual team member can privately decide how to manage and support their own mental health while the employer provides the funds to do this.

Instead of supplying team members with a prescriptive set of options, the company puts a certain amount of money into the “Wellness Pot” each month.

How the individual spends that money is entirely up to them, no questions asked. They may choose to use it on a gym membership, counselling, or hobbies or save it up for a holiday with family. The only thing we ask of them is that they use it for their wellness.

Results

The “Wellness Pot” has been a success so far, and we highly recommend it! It’s a great option for small startups and remote-first teams.

What our team say:

"My wellness pot this month will go to a mental health specialist to help me cope with stress spikes that ruin my focus during work."
"My future plans for it are to get bike equipment to start cycling more regularly again."
"I have used my "Wellness pot" to pay for audiobooks from audible on top of my subscription that I listen to on my runs in the morning; great start to the mornings!"

It’s immensely important for a company to take care of its employee's mental health. After all, the key to happy clients is happy team members.

Our everyday life is filled with so much stress and pressure, it’s incredibly important that businesses support their employees and their mental health in every way possible. After all, a happy team will lead to happy customers, so it’s a win-win for everyone!

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