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5 Reasons to Include Emotional Wellness in Employee Wellness Programs

5 Reasons to Include Emotional Wellness in Wellness Programs

Eating better, working out, getting more sleep … taking care of our physical self is relatively straightforward (even if it’s often easier said than done).

Achieving good emotional health may be a bit more complicated—but it’s just as important as achieving good physical health. And yet, emotional wellness often lands squarely on the back burner, particularly in the workplace. Why isn't emotional health more of a priority for overall employee wellness?

What’s more, the workplace is often an individual’s main source of stress in the first place and a leading cause of being emotionally unwell. In fact, a recent survey by Ipsos found that one in four Americans say work is a source of anxiety.

Companies who ignore emotional health do more than put their employees’ mental well-being at risk. If stressed, unhappy employees spread negativity throughout the organization, companies may find their complacency over their employees’ emotional health also puts their business at risk.

Let’s explore five ways emotional wellness can help employees thrive in the workplace, and how employers can help make it a priority:


Sometimes, things don’t turn out the way people expect, and it’s not uncommon to take these failures personally. When this happens in the workplace, it’s critical for employees to have the coping skills in place to manage the missteps, learn from the experience, and move on. What if they don’t have these skills? They can feel helpless and frustrated—especially if they feel they’ve given 110%. And that sets up a “Why bother?” defeatist attitude that decreases future performance.

On a recent webinar, executive coach Stella Grizont said, "Managing your mind and your mood is the key to flourishing." Otherwise, we tend to have a negativity bias that can lock us into a "negative mind trap vortex." Watch this quick clip below to learn 3 tips to combat this, or watch the full webinar here

HubSpot Video

How Employee Wellness Programs Can Help

Emotional Resilience, or the capacity to calm your mind after a negative experience, is a major factor in emotional health and job satisfaction. A wellness program that helps develop emotional resilience will equip employees to deal with disappointment, failure, or crisis, learn from it, and continue to move forward. This skill is not only valuable at the workplace, it also helps staffers cope with personal crises or challenges. 


Who hasn’t woken up in the morning after a good night’s sleep with the perfect solution to a problem they’ve been brooding about all week? Often, taking a break lets employees relax and rest their brains, which gives their subconscious the chance to see past preconceived solutions and objectively evaluate the task at hand.

But some employees are incapable of giving themselves that kind of breathing room during work hours, and that’s when trouble can brew. The more they overthink a task, the more their performance and outcomes also worsen. This fretting is not only unproductive, it can also damage the employee’s emotional health, potentially leading to sleeplessness, panic attacks, and even depression.

How Employee Wellness Programs Can Help

A wellness program can provide strategies for stopping the cycle of negative, obsessive thoughts. One effective method is distraction: When negative thoughts take over, have employees engage in a new task that requires complete concentration. This could be a completely unrelated work task, or it could be a simple brain-resetting trick, like saying the ABCs backwards. Simply redirecting the focus for just two to three minutes can often be enough to unclench the psyche, so that creativity and problem-solving skills can resume.

Sense of Self-Worth

Many people don’t realize that the brain recognizes rejections and failures the same way it recognizes physical pain. While most people know to take care of themselves when physically ill, they don’t always think to give themselves the same level of care when they’ve taken a hit to their self-esteem. In fact, as self-esteem decreases, we tend to be even harder on ourselves, creating a vicious cycle that makes us even more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and depression.

How Employee Wellness Programs Can Help

When employees experience low self-esteem, they become more vulnerable to feelings of stress, rejection, and failure. Emotionally healthy individuals, however, know how to be gentle, kind, and loving with the way they view themselves. Teaching self-compassion and giving employees the tools to help their self-esteem recover can provide a big boost to their emotional health, which in turn makes them more productive employees.

A helpful exercise is to have employees list on paper the positive qualities they know they possess. Sometimes just the simple act of seeing these positive words written down can improve emotional well-being. Make sure managers reinforce employee self-esteem by showing appreciation and admiration for their team’s strengths, and that they treat setbacks as an opportunity to teach, not berate.

Stress Management

Even in the most positive workplaces, a certain amount of stress is inevitable—but many employees just aren’t very successful at managing it. Instead, they become overwhelmed, unproductive, and anxious. When left unaddressed, this workplace stress can quickly lead to burnout and create health issues.

Employees might love their workplace and their role, but even the most dedicated staffer will burn out if overworked by long hours, poorly-scheduled shifts, or constantly recurring “crunch” times. Companies might pride themselves on their hard-driving environment, not realizing that overwork tends to come with rapidly diminishing returns on actual productivity.

How Employee Wellness Programs Can Help

Corporate wellness programs should teach employees effective ways for dealing with everyday stress, for example, by taking regular breaks, meditating in the morning or at the end of the day, or practicing a daily stretching routine. Any one of these strategies can help employees maintain a work-life balance, reduce negative thoughts, and calm frazzled nerves.

Employers also need to walk the walk, implementing humane work schedules and workloads so that their people can recharge their batteries and come back to work fresh and focused.

Workplace Support

Successful, loyal employees want to feel supported and valued, “emotional flaws” and all.

But emotional health can be a sensitive topic. Employees may be reluctant to share their struggles, as they may be concerned their supervisors will see them as weak, unstable, or incapable. Instead, they may cope by disengaging, doing only the bare minimum and interacting with coworkers and managers as little as possible. Other employees may cope with their emotional health struggles in unhealthy ways, turning to drugs or alcohol as an escape.

In these circumstances, what appears to be a performance issue may in fact be an emotional health crisis in disguise.

How Employee Wellness Programs Can Help

Management should promote a company culture that encourages openness and acceptance. Employees who feel safe and supported will be more engaged and more likely to seek out the support they need.

Employers can also add emotional health screenings to their wellness program. For employees concerned about privacy, encourage them to use the company’s employee assistance program (EAP). These programs have access to a large network of mental health professionals and adhere to strict confidentiality standards.

Incorporating Emotional Well-being Into Your Employee Wellness Program

Employees need to hear a clear and consistent message that you care about their emotional health.

The good news? You’ve probably already started to address mental health via employee assistance programs, flexible work schedules, work breaks, and more.

But now’s the time to make a conscious push toward emotional wellness. Making emotional and mental health a pillar of your wellness program can result in happier, healthier employees, who also happen to be more engaged, productive, creative, and loyal.

At WellRight, we understand emotional health is just one of the six components of employee wellness that must fit together to develop healthy habits for life. View our webinar,  “The Science of Happiness: How to Build Resilience and Flourish at Work,” to learn  how to motivate employees to use positive psychology principles to support their emotional wellness.

Webinar: The Science of Happiness: How to Build Resilience and Flourish at Work

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