Employee Well-Being is the New Normal
With the globally shared trauma of a multiyear pandemic, employees have felt disconnected, overwhelmed, and anxious. If you add on personal life responsibilities, the loss of loved ones, and other unique challenges, the cumulative stress can take a toll on anyone.
A recent survey by the National Institute for Health Care Management revealed 51 percent of people reported worse mental health at work since COVID-19 began, highlighting the need for employers to invest time and resources in improving employee wellbeing.
Whether working remotely or in an office setting, maintaining the mental and physical wellbeing of the workforce is a vital component of keeping any organization running smoothly. If you fail to oil the motor of any machine, it will seize up on you eventually. The cost of burnout is high, and the cost of high turnover can cripple a business. It’s better to invest in maintenance along the way instead of paying for calamity later.
As we head into a new year, here are a few strategies employers can implement to maintain the health and performance of employees.
Remove the Stigma of Addressing Mental Health Needs
Open and honest communication is the lifeblood of any relationship, including the relationship between employees and employers. By being vocal about mental health resources and encouraging staff to use them, leadership can create a culture where people feel comfortable asking for the help they need.
If employees think discussing challenges or asking for help will be seen as weakness or incompetence, they are less likely to speak up. This stigma can lead to decreased productivity, burnout, declining health, and turnover.
A report from McKinsey & Company said 96 percent of global companies provided additional mental health resources to employees during the pandemic. Still, only one in six employees said they felt supported. In addition to providing apps and other resources, companies can frame wellbeing as an index of learnable actions and daily behavior.
The World Economic Forum suggests employers prioritize ensuring their staff is comfortable, healthy, and happy to build a more resilient workforce and rebuild the economy. They emphasize that wellbeing must be practiced daily like any other skill.
Here are a few strategies forward-thinking companies can employ to empower employees to build their self-care muscles.
- Encourage employees to create time to recharge that includes adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
- Emphasize the importance of mindfulness, disconnecting from technology, and reconnecting with their community.
- Treat wellbeing as a business-critical skill that can be improved through training and development programs.
- Add wellbeing check-ins to team meetings and make sure everyone knows how easily accessible vital resources are.
According to the McKinsey study, only 30 percent of employees reported feeling comfortable talking to their boss about their mental health. Managers must create a safe space for open and honest dialogue about these topics.
Wellbeing is a Skill
Wellness is a sliding scale that ranges from positive mental health to severe mental illness on the other. Not dealing with issues before they escalate can lead to decreased productivity, absenteeism, turnover, and declining health conditions that can be very expensive to treat. All these things are costing companies billions each year.
By providing resources, training, and support, employers can help employees develop the skill of well-being to make them more productive and resilient.
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