With October featuring Mental Illness Awareness Week, World Mental Health Day and Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month, better workplace mental health is top of mind for many organizations. CivicAction reached out to organizations to see how they’re taking action. Read what creative agency Kitestring is doing in this Q&A with graphic designer Marin Hudson.
Tell us about a change your organization is making to improve workplace mental health.
Our workplace offers summer hours, which consists of half-day Fridays from the May long weekend until Labour Day.
We also make a big effort to all step away from our desks and eat together. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference for our team. It means we all take a break from our work, we get some social time, and we’re able to genuinely check in with one another.
How is this change positively affecting your workplace culture or your employees’ attitudes to mental health?
The number one reason is that summer hours promote work-life balance, giving staff more time to recharge (however they so choose). Compressing our summer work week also improves productivity and decreases burnout. We come back from our “long” weekends feeling more energized and ready for the week ahead. Ultimately, it really improves our work culture and staff satisfaction. We love spending time together, but we also truly look forward to summer hours, getting outside more and spending time with friends and family.
Are there plans for more actions to come?
We’re always looking for opportunities to improve workplace mental health and hope to take more actions in that direction soon. We’re currently considering the possibility of flex days where staff can choose to work in or out of the office, depending on their schedule and where they feel they’ll be most productive. Sometimes you need a break from the 9-5 office environment, so we’re exploring how we can make that work for our staff.
What does good workplace mental health look like to you?
Workplace mental health means that staff feel welcome and supported. Kitestring has an open-door policy and encourages staff to communicate whenever anything doesn’t feel quite right. We want everyone to want to come to work, want to work together and know there are always opportunities to bring new ideas to the table.
We also pride ourselves on being an open and honest office. We check in with one another every morning and rate how we’re feeling on a scale of 1-10. When anyone falls below an 8, we check in to see how we can help. Doing so has built a supportive team and made sure everyone knows their voice is heard. It’s great.