[Wctcca] Supporting college employees

Liz McKinney emckinney at greenriver.edu
Wed Mar 10 08:37:13 PST 2021

Happy Wednesday! First of all, thank you to everyone who responded to my previous email asking about how your colleges have been supporting employees during these challenging times. I thought I'd share a summary list of the ideas received from you all as well as the ideas that we Counselors here at Green River came up with (geez, increasingly I'm ending sentences inappropriately. It's almost the end of the quarter, what can I say? 🤪). This list was shared with many folks across our campus in the hopes of contributing to on-going discussions about employee wellness and providing concrete actions the college might consider taking to support employees. I was inspired to broaden the conversation after being at a meeting where a long-time colleague shared that, for the first time in two decades, they didn't like their job anymore, and another employee shared that continually being asked by administration some form of the question "what do you need to help you do your job effectively in our present conditions" was beginning to feel onerous.

I should add that Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, founder of the Trauma Stewardship Institute, is doing a two-part workshop series on how we, as employees, can better recognize, and appropriately respond to, students' trauma. Please note that the resources below are not necessarily endorsements, but examples of types of services/products that might be useful.

-A virtual employee wellness fair: where we invite community resources in to talk about what services/products they provide. Examples are: an EAP representative tells us about their services and how to access them, massage or physical therapist who can show us effective ways to self-massage, yoga instructor who could teach us how to do chair yoga or improve posture while sitting since we're spending so much time working from home, gym/fitness center staff who can share ways to be physically active in and outside of a gym, mental health services-particularly around grief/loss as we're all dealing with that in some way or another, health insurance representatives who could explain benefits and how to use them, spiritual leaders in the community, really, anything wellness related.

-Mental health apps as a benefit: such as Insight Timer, Calm, and Headspace, provide on-demand skills building around stress management, meditation, sleep hygiene, mindfulness, finding work-life balance, etc. Some apps have corporate or business membership options for purchase (there are some free components to the apps). Insight Timer, for example, has components built for workplace wellness (see below) and community building, and offers over 60,000 meditations in 50 different languages. Calm also has a workplace wellness component. It has a component that is family focused and includes meditations and lullabies for children.

-Gym/fitness center membership discounts: which are sometimes available through our health insurance benefits but may be more enticing if deeper discounts/incentives were offered.

-Messaging that it's ok to take a mental health day and/or provide attractive schedule alternatives: estimates vary but it's thought that around half of all Americans don't use all their vacation time. It may be helpful for employees to clearly hear that prioritizing mental health leads to better overall productivity and less burnout. Even with that messaging some employees won't want to take a day for themselves because they know that they will return to a mountain of work. So perhaps giving employees the option to "clock in" for the day or a portion of the day but work on "back office" tasks such as paperwork, documentation, email, etc., allowing them a break from being student-facing.

-Offer access to online courses/trainings on stress management, compassion fatigue, burnout, and/or finding work/life balance: a more in-depth offering than, say, a one-shot workshop/presentation, that can be completed during work hours.

-Peer support programs: the peer support model is an effective one for students. It may also be effective for employees. See the example below.

-Quarterly vigil: provide a virtual space for people to gather to pay tribute or respects to those who have been lost.

Even though our primary function as Counselors here at GRC is to serve students, I'd love to continue dialoguing with anyone who has feedback about what has been helpful (or not) for supporting employees.
Take care,

Insight Timer Teams | Insight Timer<https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Finsighttimer.com%2Fteams&data=04%7C01%7Cemckinney%40greenriver.edu%7C3f224b381aba4b83c62c08d8e334fcbf%7Cfa40663e972749789bce776cf824bca5%7C0%7C0%7C637509164001762205%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=eNCjUIBP7FCdwQYTQoNstd26NMlUWgqod7ANhK%2BJ5aM%3D&reserved=0>
Build community in your workplace. Bring your team together, even if you’re far apart. With Insight Circles you can chat, recommend content, and schedule group meditations to boost energy, improve focus, combat loneliness, and reduce stress.

Mindfulness and Resilience to Stress at Work | edX<https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.edx.org%2Fcourse%2Fmindfulness-and-resilience-to-stress-at-work&data=04%7C01%7Cemckinney%40greenriver.edu%7C3f224b381aba4b83c62c08d8e334fcbf%7Cfa40663e972749789bce776cf824bca5%7C0%7C0%7C637509164001782196%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=5%2FgpVgyqqxU%2Fc6tPTcpu8uVd6uvcNXVha%2Fgf9kr5uoA%3D&reserved=0>
Learn research-based strategies to help you foster mindfulness, handle stress, and guard against burnout.

Home - Workplace Strategies for Mental Health<https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com%2Fresources%2Fpeer-support-programs&data=04%7C01%7Cemckinney%40greenriver.edu%7C3f224b381aba4b83c62c08d8e334fcbf%7Cfa40663e972749789bce776cf824bca5%7C0%7C0%7C637509164001792189%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=w%2FXCkmKfIACHvmweKTnLlVJg5TWR%2Bk4CF3BVUQoo0iM%3D&reserved=0>
Peer support programs are becoming more common as part of an overall approach to psychological health and safety in the workplace. We went to the experts to ask what employers need to know if they are considering launching their own.

~Liz McKinney, Ph.D.
GRC Counselor
253 351 6672

Counseling and Health Services Mission Statement
Counseling and Health Services fosters student success and retention by teaching emotional coping techniques, informing and educating students on relevant health and wellness topics, and developing effective self-care skills for optimal lifelong psychological and physical health.

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