5 Super Easy Tactics to Improve Your Employee Wellbeing
Wellbeing in the workplace has come a long way from its origins of subsidized gym memberships and fruit in the lunchroom. Now we understand that employee wellness is more than physical health; it is a complex interaction of many factors that improve quality of life overall. Today, I’m sharing with you easy-peasy tactics you can use to improve your employee wellbeing at work.
Improving the health and wellbeing of their teams should be on every leader’s agenda.
Studies have shown that increasing the health and wellbeing on your staff may be one of the best investments you can make to develop your staff. More importantly, truly caring for your team and knowing that you can make a difference in one of the key factors in their lives is what makes us human, and happy to be alive, so a very worthy investment indeed.
Let’s face it — we spend the majority of our waking lives at work.
Effective leaders are learning that acknowledging — rather than denying — this fact is not just the right thing to do, but also a sound business decision. Focusing on employee wellbeing and purpose is a smart strategy for building a strong business. Your organization only hurts itself if it isn’t working in the best interest of everybody.
When leaders take steps to support mental health and wellness in the workplace, it benefits both employees and their employers.
Your company isn’t the product you make, your intellectual property, your patents, or even the customers you serve. First and foremost, your company is your people. Literally. the word “company” comes from the military, and simply refers to a body of soldiers. And creating a culture of wellbeing starts at the top. Employees who feel cared for by their leadership and company are better poised to do well at work.
What follows are five critically important best practices for enhancing employee wellbeing in 2021 and beyond.
There is no doubt that improving employee wellbeing is beneficial to an organization. If you’re a leader looking for easy ways to support and improve employee wellbeing, I’ve listed some tactics and strategies based on my experience, below. Let’s look at key leadership behaviors that increase wellbeing.
Tactic #1: Hold the Line
As a leader, one of the most valuable ways to foster employee development is to create conditions where two-way communication is frequent and candid. This means frequent check-ins with your team members about their personal wellbeing, asking how they’re feeling about work and really listening to what they say.
Communication isn’t just top down. This has to be two way, and it has to be open and transparent.
How does information reach people, whether the information is for the employee, or on the feedback loop to management? Company wide messaging is important, and leaders must get the tone and subject matter right, but if there isn’t the opportunity for employee feedback, as well as the management information available from insurance providers or apps, then actions and future direction can’t be shaped properly. Regular leader updates should include references to employee wellbeing initiatives so that they become part of normal conversations.
Getting on their level is about knowing how to communicate with employees in a way they feel heard and understood — and sharing your expectations in a way that makes sense to them.
Improving and sustaining wellbeing requires that managers stay connected with employees and how their lives are progressing. The single best way to do this is for managers to have conversations with employees — quick connects and check-ins, with a minimum goal for managers of having one meaningful conversation with each team member per week. Don’t forget about the basic elements of managing. Ask employees how any changes going forward may affect their various elements of wellbeing and their performance.
It’s simple to host a wellbeing event or offer employees a wellbeing stipend.
What’s less straightforward is asking your team what they need, genuinely listening, and responding accordingly. In a world that feels like it’s changing by the hour, it’s critical to get a sense of how your employees’ wellbeing is changing, too. Whether this takes the form of a staff survey or a supervisor’s honest conversation with team members, it’s time that leaders learn to actively listen to their employees — without first making assumptions about what they need — and showing them that their concerns have been heard.
Companies that will not rise to the call for empathetic leadership will lag behind and find it difficult to retain employees.
Businesses will reap benefits manifold if individual employee needs, which impact their wellbeing, were to be — understood, capacitated and evangelized by the leaders in the workplace. Cultivating an unfeigned empathy reduces interpersonal risk between management and employees. It perpetuates an atmosphere of sincerity when it comes to employee wellbeing, and establishes the truest sense of belonging by being heard to be supported and not for a mere tick in the box.
Tactic #2: Be a Role Model
As a leader, it’s not enough to say that you prioritize wellness and announce a few wellness events or services via your intranet or in internal communications. Each manager, supervisor, and team lead has a responsibility to demonstrate the company’s commitment to wellbeing. Clearly valuing your own wellbeing shows your team that you value theirs, too.
As a leader, we need to be mindful of the signals we send to people through our communication, attitude, choice of words, body language etc.
All of these affect the mood and mindset of individuals. This can affect whether they feel positive about their job and the organization. It can affect whether they feel they matter and someone cares about them. Ultimately how a leader communicates can determine whether or not their employees believe in their own abilities.
Do your best to demonstrate the behaviors that are best for you and your team.
One of the many truths we can all agree on when it comes to leadership is that a “do as I say, not as I do” approach is very unlikely to provide us with the best results. Perhaps just as important is that idea that is your are not well, you will not be able to care for others, and will be forced to look after yourself first. For both these reasons it’s important that you make wellbeing a priority for you. People are looking up to you, and leadership means that you are surveyed and taken as an example in all aspects, not only ones where you’ve agreed to.
One of the most effective ways to improve wellbeing is to be surrounded by people who are making healthy choices. In an organization, this starts at the top.
People often adopt wellbeing practices through social contagion, where peers learn from leaders and one another and live the expected norms. But improvement comes not just from organizational leaders modeling personal behavior. They need to create clear cultural standards in workplaces around how they move their bodies throughout the day, and how they treat one another. Organizations always have an advantage over larger communities when it comes to wellbeing interventions because employees inside organizations are a captive audience.
Taking care of yourself and your own wellbeing needs to be a priority for everyone but as a leader you are setting the tone for your team as well.
If you are burning the candle at both ends and allowing stress to be the norm you need to be aware of the message that is being given to your team. Demonstrate to your team that wellness and self-care is a priority for you. Take a mental health day for yourself when needed and encourage your team members to do the same, check in with your team regularly to see how everyone is coping especially when the deadline for a critical project is looming.
Tactic #3: Set a Climate of Belonging
If employees are going to wake up, get out to bed, and go to work every day they want to understand the greater purpose beyond a paycheck. Using their broader knowledge base of organizational goals and strategy, a leader can illuminate this purpose, or meaning, to their team by delegating tasks that are challenging, interesting, and important to the larger goals of the organization.
Feeling that one’s organization has an important mission or purpose is a critical aspect of engagement.
While some menial tasks may be necessary part of a job, the majority of a person’s role should be defined in terms of its bigger purpose in the grand scheme of things whether that be for the organization or even society as a whole. Defining wellbeing in the context of mission and purpose makes it actionable and demonstrates that it’s a part of your organization’s culture, not just the latest buzzword.
Setting a climate that promotes a feeling amongst employees of being part of a group is key.
Giving them that shared sense of purpose and identity within their work team goes a long way towards promoting wellbeing. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of engagement. Employees with a stronger sense of belonging perform better. It’s that simple. Thus, leaders should have a plan to enhance their employee’s wellbeing because workers who are healthy and feel a greater sense of purpose achieve far more. In return for increased belonging, businesses should expect to see the enhancement of the wellbeing and compassion of employees, resulting in a positive knock-on effect on commercial performance and financial profitability.
Belonging matters. New leaders need to signal that building relationships is important to them.
An onboarding process that taps into feelings of belonging provides that rare opportunity to establish personal connections and create a platform for working together in service of something that matters. The need for social acceptance influences almost everything we do. Sensing that we can be successful based on what we see, hear and feel increases our willingness to be connected to the team. Workplace belonging is not a fuzzy concept. The feelings generated by feeling included, valued, connected and welcomed provide a rich framework for dialog about what it means to work.
Work without purpose is work; work with purpose can be joy.
When people know that what they do matters to others and how it is connected to what the organization gives meaning to labor. Fostering the sense of belonging may be one of a leader’s most powerful levers because encourages employees to bond with one another in the work they do. It involves establishing and communicating a vision for the organization that everyone shares and feels a part of. This ensures each member of the company feels they are making a real and genuine contribution, i.e. they feel like they belong.
Tactic #4: Monitor Workloads
Energy management is a critical skill for every employee that wants to establish positive work-life balance and better relationships with family, a sustainable approach to doing more with less and improved resilience to fatigue, exhaustion and burnout. Alongside emotional intelligence, it’s a must-have.
The lack of a clear beginning and end to the workday blurs the distinction between home and work life, leading to a muddle of demands and distractions.
Leaders can help in many ways: educating staff on why energy management is so critical is the first step, otherwise they may focus all their attention on time management. Casual morning conversations over coffee or occasional end-of-day happy hours offer sociable ways to connect with colleagues. Such a window of time can offer employees an opportunity to reflect, refresh, gain a bigger-picture perspective, and set goals. Because energy is a renewable resource, it must be the core focus for improving long-term wellbeing.
Facilitating flexible working hours can help people with different sleep patterns better manage their energy throughout the day.
Our lives are multi-faceted. Work is important, but there are so many other things outside of work that give our lives meaning and purpose — things like family, faith, community, and hobbies. more importantly, it sends a signal that you trust your employees. More importantly, when you enable employees to set their own schedules as long as they hit deadlines and deliver results, they feel more like partners than corporate drones — and they’ll work that much harder for you. Meanwhile, ensuring larger goals are broken down into tangible tasks and that staff fully understand how to achieve these tasks helps reduce uncertainty over focus and performance standards, both of which fuel energy depletion.
Balanced workdays are productive workdays.
If employees have a flexible schedule, they are more likely to focus on task-in-hand rather than wasting energies on multitasking. It plays a tremendous role in the peace of mind for the employee. If your workforce can manage family and personal needs without affecting their output at work, what better can an employer ask for? It boosts morale, reduces tardiness, and encourages business’ image as a family-friendly place to work.
Work is important but so are many other things in life.
Finding balance is the best way to ensure all aspects of life are taken care of and this promotes overall wellness. People are more productive when professional and personal obligations can be taken care of and when they know their employer trusts them to get their work done even when personal issues arise. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook openly leaves work at 5:30 pm every day so that she can have dinner with her family… then continues her work remotely once her children have gone to bed.
Tactic #5: Celebrate
Maybe you took the team for a well-deserved lunch? Maybe you had a few drinks to celebrate your employees’ successes? Maybe you haven’t done anything special… A little celebration can go a long way when it comes to motivating a team.
Did you know the #1 reason why people are unhappy in the office isn’t money? It’s feeling undervalued.
It stems from managers who can’t pause to acknowledge contribution, encourage progress, help with development. The adverse effects of disengagement are devastating; low performance and attrition are pricey in terms of cost and lost productivity. Celebrating team successes is a public acknowledgement of value. A festive tone to the end of a difficult project, or putting each individual under the spotlight for their unique contribution is direct recognition. And this is a strong leadership message, too. It shows you value individual differences.
During these uncertain and challenging times, being an effective leader takes diligence, efficiency and an ability to keep up your team’s morale.
One crucial key to fostering enthusiasm and optimism is encouraging your team to find meaning in their work and recognize their achievements — big and small. Research shows that practicing gratitude has benefits for everyone — the person giving as well as the one receiving the praise. If you’re trying to help your team build strength and emotional resilience, taking some time to thank them for their contributions will go a long way. Today’s workforce wants their achievements to be seen, valued, and appreciated. We tend to forget that we are social beings that rely on the cooperation of many people to succeed. Celebrating an occasion is essential for social bonding and connecting with one another.
Not just rewards. Recognition. Being identified publicly as a contributor to success ranks high in the list of employee “satisfiers.” Higher than fair pay.
Let’s not forget that human beings are inherently social: it’s no accident that we call our firms organizations and companies, where progress relies on the cooperation of many people. Celebration is a cornerstone of social bonding: it’s one way we identify belonging to a group or culture. If you like the sound of loyal employees and strong work culture, it’s time to up your celebration game.
Success can beget success, and celebrating at work helps to build momentum, improve morale, and make the hard times feel all the more worth it.
Success is not about getting from A to B. It’s about mastering a way of working that fosters creativity, fulfillment, and personal investment, enabling you to not only make progress continuously, but want to make progress continuously. Think of it as a well-designed wheel, rather than a simple straight line. If this is the case and there is no mountain top or finish line, it’s up to leaders to find good moments to celebrate with employees “on the go,” rather than waiting to get to some final destination.
With businesses trying to navigate a global health crisis, there has never been more pressure for managers to ensure their teams perform. Yet, employee wellbeing is simultaneously taking center stage. When it’s well thought-out and effectively implemented, you’ll see lower incidences of employee burnout and higher rates of engagement.
To support wellbeing at work, build and maintain a workplace culture that makes employees feel safe, a company that feels like a second home.
By adopting a best-practice approach of addressing employee engagement and employee wellbeing at the same time and taking practical actions even when budgets are tight, workers will be more likely to have their critical psychological needs met, stay engaged and be insulated from the negative effects of the extraordinary amounts of stress they are experiencing. In this way, leaders of organizations can play a critical — and potentially decisive — role in maximizing a job well done and a life well-lived.
To maintain the competitive edge, wellbeing initiatives can no longer be seen as a ‘nice to have’.
The advantages to businesses of placing employee wellbeing at the center of your people strategy are well documented. Leaders who understand that and deliver this will see more motivated, engaged and productive employees. Leaders don’t need to be subject matter experts, but communicating, engaging and facilitating the narrative within organizations, and having a clear strategy will achieve results for all stakeholders.
As a leader, you have an incredible impact on the lives of those you lead.
So, it’s your job to create conditions where your employees feel empowered and can thrive. Ultimately, the best way to create the right environment is to be the best version of yourself and support your team the way you would like to be supported: fully, respectfully and compassionately.
Employee wellbeing is essentially a complete lifestyle and behavior change for the company’s culture. And change takes time with commitment.
I believe work and well-being go hand-in-hand; the secret is getting the balance right — and it all starts from the top down. I hope you can find meaning in my experiences and strategies in a way that works for your team. What about you? What are the benefits of employee wellbeing in your eyes, and what do your companies do to ensure that wellbeing is a priority? Let me know in the comments below!
Digital Dandy. Hacker From Heart. Workaholic. Coding Artist. Self-made.