12 Budget-Friendly Ways to Prioritize Employees’ Mental Health


While many large companies may have the resources to offer funded relaxation retreats or other extensive mental health perks, it can be difficult for small businesses to find ways to offer similar benefits without those same resources.

So how can a small business owner prioritize the mental health of their employees on a budget? Below, 12 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) shared their thoughts by responding to the following question:

“While small businesses may not be able to offer company retreats or extensive mental health perks, what’s something a small business owner can do to prioritize the mental health of their employees?”

Consider offering some of these perks to help support your employees’ mental health.

1. Small Outings

“Small businesses don’t have the budgets for lavish company retreats, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t get out of the office for a change of pace. Small outings can still have a positive effect on the mental health of your employees. Take a half a day to go bowling or hiking or just have an off-site company-wide lunch. In small companies, little things have a big effect on workplace morale.” ~ Jordan Conrad, Writing Explained Blog Starter

2. Staff Discounts

“Get staff members discounts at places in the area like local gyms, restaurants or even discounts on pet insurance. Offering discounts for wellness tests, like those on LetsGetChecked, is also a great way to show employees that you value their health and prioritize their well-being.” ~ Ismael Wrixen, FE International

3. Unlimited PTO

“Small businesses can give their employees unlimited PTO for the days they need to take off for their mental health. You can’t predict when you’ll need one, so this system allows employees to pick and choose what works best for them and how they feel.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

4. Dedicated Chat Channels

“You can prioritize the mental health of your employees by creating a chat channel for everyone to talk about things that are not necessarily work-related. Our chat channel is called Family. We use this part of our Slack to connect with our employees and make sure everyone has what they need to succeed. Our team also uses this channel to vent and talk about things happening in our lives.” ~ John Turner, SeedProd LLC

5. Weekly Mindfulness Sessions

“Introduce mindfulness sessions in your weekly standups. ‘Show, don’t tell’ is a great mantra when it comes to starting the week with 15 minutes of bonding exercises around positivity and spirituality. Even the most fast-paced startups can take a short break and recharge together before heading to priority tasks. Paying special attention to well-being can prevent burnout and increase commitment.” ~ Mario Peshev, DevriX

6. Reasonable Deadlines and Expectations

“The best thing a small business can do to help its employees maintain a healthy mindset is to make work as easy as possible. This means creating KPIs, setting up reasonable deadlines and then letting people do their work in their own way. Looking over an employee’s shoulder and monitoring them constantly contributes to poor mental health. Instead, give people the freedom to work in their own way.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress

7. Half-Day Fridays

“Plan a half-day Friday well in advance. Give people time to plan what they would like to do with their time. Some will plan their own getaways and some will be happy for a chance to beat traffic or enjoy an afternoon movie.” ~ Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts

8. A Comfortable Team Culture

“The best way to prioritize the mental health of your employees is by creating a healthy work environment for them. Make sure that your team members feel comfortable working with each other. You should also make sure that the managers are approachable and friendly with their teams. This will eliminate any negative feelings among the team members and will promote good mental health.” ~ Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite

9. Flexible, Hybrid Work Schedules

“Being flexible with work schedules and allowing a hybrid work-from-home opportunity can be an impactful mental health perk for employees. Encouraging employees to work outside in nature can also prove helpful.” ~ Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC

10. Open and Honest Communication

“Have conversations with team members not only about work, but also about how they are feeling. Ask the questions and truly listen. It is important to understand that you might not have the answers, but empathy goes a long way.” ~ Zane Stevens, Protea Financial

11. Afternoon Naps

“One way small business owners can prioritize mental health in their workplace is by providing scheduling flexibility for afternoon naps. As kindergarten as this may sound, the fact is that many people struggle to get enough sleep and sleep has a tremendous impact on mental health. Enabling workers to work 30 minutes later to offset an unpaid nap in the afternoon can make all the difference.” ~ Richard Fong, ABCDreamUSA.com

12. Clear Work-Life Boundaries

“Setting clear work-life boundaries is important and something that is often overlooked and abused in startup environments. Make it a company policy to avoid sending emails on the weekend or after normal work hours. Employees shouldn’t take work home with them or, if they’re working from home, their offline hours should be respected.” ~ Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.

Image: Depositphotos

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.