Burnout. Stress. Anxiety. Mental health. The Great Re-evaluation. The Great Resignation. Employee shortage. Turnover. These terms are all too familiar among organizations today.
Literature reviews and research demonstrate that high employee well-being can predict greater customer satisfaction, more productivity, greater profitability, and may influence stock prices. Employee satisfaction can predict revenue, sales, and profits. Happy employees tend to be more cooperative, more helpful, more punctual at work, and have a longer tenure with the organization. Burnout, stress, and anxiety all inhibit employees’ ability to flourish.
The bad news: no individual or organization is immune from experiencing negative side effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the trauma from social and civil unrest and inequities, worker shortages, supply chain issues, and many other societal and individual issues we are facing today.
The good news: we can do something about it by using a variety of researched-backed approaches and recommendations—at an organizational, leadership, and individual level.
As an organization:
- Create and implement well-being policies and strategies—normalize utilizing them. Consider trying out the 4-day workweek, creating a mental health policy for all team members, allowing for flexible work schedules or hours, or encouraging team members to take time off (e.g. taking a few hours during the workday or allowing for longer periods of time for rest or self-exploration).
- Integrate and standardize well-being practices throughout the workday. Try walking meetings instead of standard Zoom or face-to-face meetings. Start each meeting with a few minutes of breathing together or meditation exercises. Ask each person to share one thing they are grateful for that day or encourage standing up and physically moving every 30 minutes— jumping jacks are a great, quick energizer!
- Evaluate your team culture, norms, and behaviors. Are you structuring yourselves and the way you work to allow for healthy, sustainable work-life balance for your employees? Are you normalizing breaks, time off, mental health, and self-care? Have you created a safe space for your team members to speak up when they need help? Have you checked in with your team members recently to ask, how are you really?
As a leader:
- Get outside. There is a growing body of evidence that accessibility to the natural environment has many positive effects on well-being. Spending time in nature, looking at photos of or out the window at nature, listening to natural sounds like birds chirping or rain, or having access to plants and other greenery can be really good for you. The Greek physician Hippocrates once wisely said, “If you are in a bad mood go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood go for another walk.”
- Use your character strengths. We all have different character strengths that make us unique individuals. When we use our strengths, which are easy, energizing, and essential, we feel re-energized and alive. The more you use your signature strengths that are core to who you are as an individual, the more fulfilled you will feel. Find out your signature strengths by taking the test at here.
- Surprise and delight your team members. Many people love a fun and unexpected surprise! The little things add up and can mean a lot. Randomly treat your employees to a free lunch, give them an unexpected day off, write them a note of gratitude, or do something personalized and meaningful to the individual. It can show your employees that you are thinking of them and are doing your part to try to make the situation even 1% better.
As an individual:
- Check in with your team members. Be authentically curious with your team members and listen with empathy and compassion to really understand how they are doing and where they are coming from. Do not underestimate the importance of reaching out and checking in—it shows your team that you care, you want to understand, and you want to help.
- Ask your team members what they need. Sometimes the solution is easy and right in front of you. Perhaps they need a deadline extension, assistance from another person, the ability to say “no” to another project, or the ability to sign off or start early for childcare. Check and ask if your employee has any creative solutions for the problem or situation they are facing, instead of making assumptions. Keep the dialogue open and focused on solutions.
- Practice self-care. You’ve likely heard this over and over again: find the things that make you feel better, and practice them. Self-care is a journey that requires, time, energy, and practice. Make sure you invest in yourself in ways that feel appropriate for you! Exercise. Meditate. Prioritize sleep. Eat well. Allow time for fun and hobbies. Spend time with people you care about. Tap into your spirituality. Read. Seek professional help.
It should be noted that many of these suggestions are temporary fixes and may not address the root cause of burnout, exhaustion, stress, or anxiety. Similarly, different things work for different people. Health and well-being are very personal and individualized. The best thing you can do is show you care, offer ways to help, and try to address and fix the true core of the issues. Evaluate your efforts at all levels to ensure you are doing what you can to take care of your people. They are your biggest asset.
Looking for other more personalized ways to prioritize employee well-being? Reach out to me, let’s chat!