To Support Mental Health, Let Employees Walk out the Door.

Dawn Burke Culture, Dawn Burke, HR, Managing People, Mental Health, wellness, Work Life Balance

Do you know what really makes my heart hurt?  The fact so many employees are still miserable at work. It’s not the fault of any one “thing,” but rather a systemic issue. In the US, both depression and loneliness epidemics are in full swing, which is exacerbated by many working environments.

Somewhere in the intersection of technology, the demanding speed of work, and bad leadership, companies lost sight of how the work environment contributes to this terrible problem. In a report from Sodexo and Deloitte on workplace experience, “40% of workers believe it is not possible to succeed at work, make a good living, and have enough time to contribute to the family.” And In 2016, the National Institute of Mental Health reported an estimated 16.2 million adults in the US had a depressive episode.

That really is depressing.

But I have GOOD NEWS. I heard some new research that made me really happy. There appears to be a simple solution to help mitigate depressive episodes. That solution? Let your employees walk out the door.  Literally,  like, go take a walk. Doesn’t seem revolutionary, but how many of you make a simple walk a part of your workday. I believe more of us still subscribe to eating lunch at our desks while we work than to take a few minutes to actually stop. And in this case, walk.

But I don’t have time?! Well, yes you do.

New research from the Journal of Psychology shows you only need a small amount of exercise to decrease depression. Fifteen minutes, that’s it. Any activity in fifteen minutes that will get your heart rate up 50% is great for reducing depression. It’s also enough time to cause the endorphin high we all love. And this same research shows exercising for fifteen minutes at night doesn’t impact sleep. #mythbusted.

So leaders, do what you can to get your people to walk. Inside or outside, it doesn’t matter. If you need to make a walking path through the cubicles, go for it. Make it a new ritual in your organization. Everyone can spare 15 minutes, and if it alleviates stress on the job, there’s no good reason not to try.