Supporting your employees’ mental and emotional health can generate better workplace interactions, decision-making and productivity. Providing support may also alleviate the burden for supervisors and HR professionals who support employees’ emotional and mental needs.

Most of all, encouraging work/life balance as part of your workplace culture can be a very important underpinning for supporting employee wellness.

Here are some business practices that can support employees’ mental and emotional wellness:


Wellness staff committee

An employee-driven committee can promote wellness through workplace education and activities. It can promote team-building, including cross-departmental team-building, and greater awareness of health, leading to a healthier workforce and fewer sick days.


  • The committee and/or an employee survey can help you decide which wellness benefits to offer.
  • You may need to flex schedules or give up some productivity to accommodate activities.


Counseling & mental health support

When employees have unresolved problems, it can affect their work and personal lives, and they can experience low morale, low productivity, and in some cases, absenteeism. Support may range from low-cost (providing lists of resources and/or training supervisors) to higher cost (in-house professionals or access to professionals).

Some EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) are costly but others are surprisingly affordable for small budgets. Plan options can range from 24/7 assistance to one-on-one counseling to wellness programs.


  • Outsourcing or training may alleviate the burden for supervisors and HR professionals who support employees’ emotional and mental needs.
  • Employees may need flexible schedules to attend counseling sessions.
  • Employee support groups can help those with commonalities or concerns, e.g., parenting, grieving, shared ethnicity, or other topics; you may need to offer space, flexible schedules and clear guidelines to accommodate the groups.


Vacation, medical and family leave

Providing time off, paid or unpaid, supports employees’ needs and may result in increased retention or easier employee recruitment. Time off may be for employee family needs (sickness, bereavement, emergencies) or personal revitalization (vacation, sabbaticals, wellness days, holidays). Learn about options for about vacation, medical & family leave.



Offering a choice of holidays may accommodate employees of differing faiths or backgrounds. Learn about tips for holiday policies that meet different employee needs.


Other paid unpaid leave

Offering paid or unpaid time off for voting, volunteering, jury duty, training, sabbaticals or other needs can also support employees and help with employee retention. Learn about options for other types of leave.


Space for worship, meditation or “chilling-out”

Offering a designated quiet space can help employees recharge throughout the day and/or help them to adhere to their spiritual practices.


  • Group mindfulness or meditation can provide a team-bonding experience.
  • Schedules or spaces may need to flex to accommodate specific religious or other practices.
  • You may need to give up some productivity to accommodate use of these spaces.
  • If some employees cannot use the space, this may be seen as unequal benefit.


Space for personal phone calls

Not every employee can afford their own phone, computer or printer, and/or not every department offers privacy for phone calls during work hours. Providing private space and/or phone (or computer/printer) for employee use can help provide equal access and allow employees to make phone calls requiring confidential information or private conversations or to fill out required paperwork.


Pet-friendly workplaces

Allowing pets in the workplace may create a less formal workplace culture and/or may help employees incur fewer pet daycare expenses. Some policies and parameters need to be established before allowing pets.


  • Create policies on types of pets allowed, pet vaccinations, flea/tick prevention, cleanliness, allowable pet behavior and accommodations for coworkers and customers with pet allergies or aversions.
  • For those with allergies or other pet-related issues, to ensure clear communication with customers and employees to let them know pets are present.


Lending library

Your organization, employees or local library can provide a rotating selection of books and periodicals. The in-house library may help provide books for employees with limited budgets or with challenges (e.g., transportation, dependent care, work schedules) that prevent use of public libraries.


  • May help promote team-building, including cross-departmental team-building.
  • If books are related to professional skills, may help promote professional development.


Employee book club

Employee-driven book discussion group can foster team-building and enrichment. Book choices can be work-related or not.


  • May help promote team-building, including cross-departmental team-building.
  • If books aren’t provided for free, may be a barrier for employees with tight budgets.
  • May also be a barrier for employees with low reading skills. For these employees, you may provide an adult literacy resource (e.g., Adult Basic Education; Vermont Adult Learning).


Music in the workplace

Music in the workplace can be in individual spaces or group spaces — public and non-public, and allowing employees to choose/play music may increase productivity, morale, and comfort.


  • May be distracting for some employees if earbuds/earphones aren’t used.
  • If it’s a group setting, may need to accommodate various music preferences (if it’s a public space, keep customers in mind).
  • Repetitive music (e.g., in retail spaces) may be difficult for some employees.
  • If some departments cannot play music, this benefit may generate a we/they workplace culture.


Also see the Employees in Recovery Resources section.