How to Support Nonprofit Employees’ Mental Health and Wellness
Most nonprofit employees choose their line of work because making a difference in others’ lives is rewarding. Being able to help others and knowing that you are creating a tangible impact makes a nonprofit career not just a job but a fulfilling purpose. And while the mission can be the best part of the job, it can also be emotionally taxing and stressful to be so invested in a particular cause.
Consumer Directed Choices, a nonprofit provider of self-direction services for seniors and people with disabilities, makes a conscious commitment to support its employees’ wellness and mental health through many different initiatives, the most impactful being our annual wellness week. It is no coincidence that with the mission of empowering our consumers to seek well-being, happiness and growth, Consumer Directed Choices would employ the same approach to our own team.
As an organization voted “Best Place to Work” by its local chamber of commerce this year, take a note from our playbook for supporting employee recognition, support and wellness by recreating our successful wellness week initiative with your nonprofit team.
1. Ask Employees What Interests Them
You want to ensure that your employees will enjoy the wellness week you are planning while feeling you value their input at the same time. Ask them for suggestions or send out a survey to gather information on which events they would be interested in attending. You can use their suggestions and feedback to create the perfect event lineup for your wellness week.
2. Plan a Complimentary Organization-Wide Meal or Happy Hour
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, food always brings people together. It’s also the perfect way to show your appreciation for your employees’ hard work while allowing for some time for them just to enjoy each other’s company.
Communal dining can foster a sense of value, which, in turn, can lead to stronger organizational loyalty. Consumer Directed Choices opted for a breakfast and a happy hour, scheduling the latter for the end of the week so its employees could relax and celebrate a successful wellness week!
3. Organize Activities That Will Reduce Stress
General stress, eye strain and muscle tension are inevitable for most office workers, so it’s essential to incorporate relaxing activities as part of any wellness initiative. Consumer Directed Choices’ wellness week offered group yoga and massages, but any activity prioritizing mental health will be a welcome break from the day-to-day.
An employee favorite was a visit from therapy dog Rika, who brought smiles and stress relief to everyone she met. If you have a wellness week that prioritizes health, you should look at it from a well-rounded perspective.
4. Get Out of the Office
Not all of your wellness week events need to be on the premises — most of them shouldn’t be. Consumer Directed Choices accomplished this by offering guided hike options with varying difficulty levels at a neighboring nature preserve, the Albany Pine Bush. By showing employees a nearby spot to get some fresh air and take a walk during lunch breaks, squeezing in some cardio time during the day seems more attainable and realistic to stick to as a regular habit.
5. Offer an Annual Wellness Week
Hosting a wellness week certainly gives employees something to look forward to every year, which could boost productivity and maintain employee morale. For Consumer Directed Choices, their wellness week initiatives aren’t just a nice-to-have, they’re a crucial aspect of running a successful and sustainable business.
By investing in the health and well-being of your nonprofit employees and focusing on improving stress levels and mental health, nonprofits can create more engaged, productive and loyal workforces, leading to longevity and other long-term benefits for employees and employers. Generally, employers that prioritize employee wellness have a healthier company culture, resulting in employees who feel supported and cared for within the organization
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Related story: The Importance of Positive Nonprofit Office Culture
Mark Kepner-Clough, director of people operations and risk, joined Consumer Directed Choices in September 2022 as program manager. He is a seasoned healthcare professional with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Excelsior College and an associate degree in applied science in nursing from Maria College.
He brings a wealth of experience at the intersection of healthcare and advocacy, including roles in various management and senior leadership positions at local nursing homes ranging from quality assurance nurse/compliance officer to director of nursing. He also served as a policy analyst and clinical consultant at LeadingAge New York, where he appealed to state and federal legislatures, advocating on behalf of not-for-profit members in nursing home, assisted living and senior housing settings.
Mark is diplomatic and tactful with professionals and non-professionals at all levels and is accustomed to handling sensitive, confidential records. He approaches his work daily with a singular focus on centering the consumer’s experience and providing the most compassionate, exceptional quality of care possible for the individuals and families Consumer Directed Choices serves.