When wellness is at risk, burnout can arise. This results in morale and productivity issues, low job satisfaction, increases in errors, problems with retention and turnover, and poor quality and quantity of work. And, because managers tend to load more work onto their top performers, these performers tend to experience stress and burnout at a higher rate than other employees. So, we may be harming those we should be helping. Managers should watch for warning signs of high-stress levels and burnout.
“Companies are most successful at creating a culture of well-being when they provide managers with the right tools for a holistic, multifaceted approach.” According to a Gallup study, “[there is] a clear link between employee engagement and well-being, with managers serving as a conduit between the two.”
For employees, managers can recommend several activities to increase their level of wellness.
• Encourage journaling.
Keeping a journal for a week or two to identify which situations create the most stress and how they respond to them can be advantageous and help to identify patterns.
Employees should also be encouraged to note thoughts and feelings during times of accomplishment. This will keep them motivated and alleviate the negative feelings that arise during stressful situations.
• Share ways to develop healthy responses.
What do you do to practice a healthier lifestyle? Exercise is a great stress buster. Any form of physical activity is beneficial. Making time for hobbies and favorite activities, whether it’s reading a novel, going to concerts, or playing games with family, brings pleasure.
Building healthy sleep habits such as limiting caffeine intake late in the day and minimizing stimulating activities, such as computer and television use, at night can certainly help.
• Establish boundaries and personalize the workspace.
Whether working from the office or home, encourage employees to surround themselves with any elements that relieve stress, e.g., a diffuser, plants, pictures, etc. Discourage them from checking email at home in the evening or answering the phone during dinner.
Remote workers are balancing homeschooling, personal and partner stressors, and maybe even financial setbacks. As a leader, you need to respect your employees’ boundaries and try your best to avoid adding more stress.
From the organizational perspective, it is important to consider how the corporate values, training and development activities, leadership styles, and other aspects of your culture align with wellness.
• Create flexibility.
Since the 9-to-5 workday is in the past, onsite, remote, and hybrid teams need a more flexible schedule. Virtual work has forced employers to be open to flexible working arrangements. Nobody wants to be told HOW to do something, so allowing employees to do their work on their terms gives them a sense of freedom. This flexibility level also instills a sense of confidence in your employees that they know you trust them enough to get their work done and meet deadlines in the most productive way for them.
• Build a community.
We’re all in this together, so show it! Encourage employees to talk openly about what they’re going through. Empathizing with each other and having a shared experience builds community and strengthens relationships between employees even if they are physically distant.
• Show appreciation.
It is especially important to let employees know they are seen. Recognition and appreciation go a long way in keeping morale high and demonstrating that individuals have value, and their work contributes to the greater good. It can be as simple as a shoutout, or more formal like praise at the weekly meeting.
• Seek out others’ ideas and perspectives.
At Mohawk College Enterprise (MCE), we have begun to look at the Indigenous Community and have found the Indigenous perspective on wellness to be quite different from the perspective we would normally take in the workplace.
For example, the First Nations Health Authority, states that their perspective on health and wellness transcends the workplace and they describe wellness in terms of parts of a circle. There is an outer circle demonstrating togetherness, respect, and relationships. This outer circle embraces five other circles depicting human beings, mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical wellness, and the overarching values of respect, wisdom, responsibility, and relationships. “Wellness starts with individuals taking responsibility for [their] own health and wellness…”
This perspective on wellness takes an all-inclusive view – looking at the whole person and every aspect of their life. Managers may want to investigate this perspective to support a culture of wellness for themselves and their employees.