The ClassPass corporate team hosted a discussion about employee wellbeing in honor of mental health awareness month. We were honored to have Suze Yalof Schwartz, the Founder and CEO of Unplug Meditation as our guest.

If you haven’t checked out Unplug Meditation yet, don’t miss out! They are bookable for livestream classes via ClassPass, meaning they are available for all ClassPass users to experience, regardless of location. 

We’ve partnered with the Unplug Meditation team on countless private corporate classes for our clients. If you’re interested in learning more about corporate wellness options for your company’s benefits package, you can reach our team here

What to expect from the conversation 

Suze has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to leading a more mindful life, while also understanding the specific stressors modern day employees encounter on a daily basis. This magic mix made for a compelling discussion focused on how to find a moment of wellness throughout the workday - whether it’s a minute to breathe or a minute to break a sweat. 

Suze’s tips are not exclusive to the corporate world, though they are especially helpful for anyone working in an HR or Benefits function as we do dive into corporate wellness programming and employee engagement tactics.

If you’re still looking for more ideas after reading through the highlights, check out the full discussion here

Empower employees to take micro breaks

Whether your team is working from home or headed back in office, calendars are as full as ever. One of our favorite reminders from our discussion with Suze was “there’s a huge power in the pause.” Even a one minute break to pause and breathe is an invaluable tool to help eliminate stress.

But the problem is deciding where that minute comes in when you’re swamped. Here are two ways to make this aspirational concept actionable:

Start a “5 Minutes After” Policy: When your calendar has back-to-back meetings, odds are you’re missing out on a break and causing more stress than necessary. One meeting runs over or one unexpected email comes through and suddenly your whole day’s plan is thrown off. If you can implement the “5 Minutes After” policy at your company (or even just within your team), employees will have 5 minutes of breathing room between when their last meeting ends and the next one begins. 10:00AM or 10:05AM, it’s really all the same - right?

Breathe Like a Navy Seal: The now popularized “box breathing” technique was developed by Navy Seals for use in times of stress. The best part? It only takes 16 seconds to enjoy the feel good benefits. The trick is to think of your breathing like a box: breath in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breath out for four seconds and hold for four seconds at the bottom of the breath. The secret sauce here is that your brain is occupied with thinking through the breathing, rather than whatever may be causing stress. The Unplug team tried this in live corporate sessions. They actively stressed out attendees and then had attendees implement box breathing so they could see the benefits in real time. Give it a try and share the tip with your employees!

Clarify working hour expectations

It’s no secret that working and non-working hours can easily blend together, whether you’re out of a routine or simply overloaded with work. This cycle can be hard to break, but it starts with the employer making it extremely clear to employees of when they are expected to be “on.”

Do you have a distributed team? If so, encourage everyone to post their working hours in one shared location (Slack is a great option). This sets an expectation on when teammates can expect a response, which alleviates early morning or late night working obligations. 

What do you do with your newfound non-working time? If you want to take advantage of your earlier hours, Suze recommends starting the day without your phone. Checking emails or news first thing in the morning can increase cortisol, which starts the day on a stressed note. Empower employees to take the digital free time they need in the morning by escaping notifications and plugging into their own personal mindfulness practice. 

Lead by example to avoid “second hand stress”

One of our favorite phrases here at ClassPass is “it starts at the top.” This is true for successful corporate wellness programs, and it’s unfortunately true for normalized stress or anxiety.

If company leaders are sending emails late into the night, running from meeting-to-meeting or noticeably stretched thin, that strain will be passed along to employees in the form of “second hand stress.” We know leaders are humans too, so the goal isn’t to strive for perfection but rather for them to be vulnerable with employees about the boundaries they are trying to maintain.

If you are interested in implementing the “five minutes after” strategy, have the leadership team be the first ones to set the new normal with their calendar invites. Better yet? Host a company-wide workout class to blow off some steam and have the leadership team encourage everyone to take advantage. 

Highlight wellness initiatives in a BIG way 

Too often, a corporate wellness program may be announced in a one-off email or part of a larger list of updates, but to really make a bang with employees it’s crucial to pair the announcement with a mandatory event. Of course, the benefit itself doesn’t need to be mandatory, but employees should be given the information in a way that is sure to reach everyone. 

A great example of this is an all company team meeting. Odds are these meetings are required and the vast majority of employees will be present. Next time you announce a new Wellness Initiative (ClassPass Corporate or otherwise) we invite you to test this tactic and watch the engagement soar.

Optimize wellness initiatives on a regular basis

Don’t forget to keep a pulse on your wellness initiatives and refresh when needed. Offering employees a way to find zen is great, but they also need actionable next steps and motivation from the company level. This can be achieved through running various challenges, incentivizing teams to do a mindful session together or even tapping a few wellness lovers internally to serve as “brand ambassadors” for the program. 

If you’re worried about your own bandwidth to execute these tactics, tap your vendor partner to help. We connect with our partners on a regular basis to ensure we are supporting partners throughout the program at ClassPass. 

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