4 ways to lift workers’ wellbeing

Do you care about your employees’ wellbeing? Chances are your employees don’t think so.

Fewer than one in four U.S. employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their wellbeing says a new Gallup poll. That’s the lowest percentage in nearly a decade.

Here’s the interesting part. In May of 2020, at the start of the pandemic, nearly half of employees felt their employers’ genuine concern for them, their work and their lives.

Where did so many employers go wrong?

It comes down to changing with the times. Now that employee attitudes have fundamentally shifted, acknowledging the whole person and considering their physical, mental, social and overall wellbeing is critical for organizations. That’s because those who believe their company cares are 69% less likely to actively search for a new job.

Companies need to make employee wellbeing a core business strategy in order to be successful. Here are four tips to do so.

1. Ease their minds

Even perpetual optimists like me have felt the stress of the past two years. It’s not at all unusual for both leaders and employees to experience anxiety, burnout, depression and PTSD.

Sadly, employees’ mental health is at an all-time low. More than 8 out of 10 workers reported at least one mental health issue over the past year. (Source: Lyra)

What can employers do? Start with making employee mental health a priority and ensuring that quality mental health benefits and Employee Assistance Programs are available to all. But the real key is prevention.

Business owners and executives need to remember that their behaviors set a bar for everyone else. When you take vacation, attend your kids’ activities, enjoy holidays—and talk about these at work—you effectively communicate how much you value personal and family time. That gives everyone else permission to do the same. Also, it is okay to talk about your own mental health challenges. This destigmatizes the issue, and signals that vulnerability is a strength.

Other best practices include balancing employee workloads and tackling workplace issues such as bullying and unfair treatment. Last but not least, set boundaries. Here’s one to consider: no business correspondence on weekends. It’s a simple but effective way to telegraph that there is more to life than work and that you respect your team members’ time.

2. Actively encourage physical activity

It’s a fact: an active employee is a more productive one.

Science has proven the value of exercise. Just ask any keep-fit buff. My friends who are gym regulars talk about how their routines pump up their energy, brighten their mood, clear the mind, enhance confidence and help them with sleep.

There are plenty of ways for employers to inspire team member activity. First, if your health benefits provide gym discounts or reimbursements, be sure to communicate these well.

At the worksite, many employers offer walking clubs, host yoga classes and allow stand up desks. You might also consider policies that take into consideration popular exercise times—for example, no meetings before 8 am or from noon to 1 pm. Additionally, one-on-one walking meetings are increasing in popularity. They’re not only good for your physical health, they foster social connection and creativity.

3. Provide purpose and appreciation

The more employees feel their work has meaning, the better they will feel about themselves.

A survey by McKinsey and Company found that almost two in three U.S. employees have reflected on their life purpose as a result of the pandemic. The majority are reconsidering the kind of work they do.

How can businesses provide a sense of purpose? Employee volunteer programs are helpful, but the real answer is more nuanced. Advises McKinsey, “Your starting point should be opportunities that help employees find more personal meaning in their day-to-day work.” It comes down to understanding individuals’ motivations, offering opportunities around them, and genuinely showing appreciation.

Here’s an example. If you learn that one of your managers loves nothing more than coaching young people, put them in charge of your internship program, or let them create one. Demonstrate your appreciation by publicity discussing the manager’s positive impact —whether it be increasing the talent pipeline, adding capacity, and/or career development for those who manage the interns.

4. A safety-first culture

First and foremost, employees want to know that employers will do everything in their power to keep them safe.

Now that mask mandates have loosened, don’t lose sight of the benefits of maintaining protocols. Offer hand sanitizers throughout the worksite and remind employees of healthy habits like thorough hand washing. COVID-19 might be on hiatus, but the flu, colds and other infectious illnesses aren’t. Keeping everyone healthy is in everyone’s best interest.

Maintaining these practices is not only what employees want and expect; it sends a resounding message that you care about your team.

Need a worker wellbeing strategy or assistance with implementing one? NEMR Total HR can help. Chat with us or email us here.