Three Ways Leaders Can Protect Employee Well-Being

by | Sep 14, 2022 | 0 comments

Once upon a time, protecting the well-being of employees might have been viewed as a luxury for a few lucky workers or a fluffy topic for soft leaders who didn’t have anything better to worry about. But these days, it’s increasingly becoming recognized that looking after employees isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also good for business and productivity.

40% of employees who quit their jobs during the “great resignation” of 2021 cited burnout as the culprit, so paying attention to their mental health can reduce employee turnover. Meanwhile, more than 90% of leaders believe promoting wellness boosts performance. But the real question is: What can leaders do to foster that environment? Let’s look at three top ways.

What is employee well-being?

First of all, let’s take a moment to define exactly what we’re talking about here. It might sound obvious, but lots of leaders and organizations misinterpret well-being and take the wrong approach to improve it. Well-being isn’t a single thing and should encompass various aspects:

  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Economic

Therefore, employee wellbeing can be influenced by anything from relationships with coworkers to resources they can access. However, cultural breakdowns and lack of fulfillment are the main culprits and tend to affect all other aspects with them.

Introduce mindfulness

The big M has become more popularized over the last few years, yet not every organization thinks it’s useful or feels comfortable discussing it.

If you think mindfulness is just spiritual woo-woo, think again because even the US military has recognized its importance and incorporated it into training (albeit under the banner of “resilience training”).

Mindfulness in the workplace comes down to developing the ability to deal with the emotions, stresses, and conflicts that crop up each day. How can you expect to have a productive team without it?

You need to teach employees how to become more aware of the present moment and accept their feelings, thoughts, and decision-making processes instead of being slaves to them. It’s the difference between feeling stressed and thinking, “the world is burning, I’m overwhelmed, and I want to go home,” and “I’m feeling the sensation of stress right now, but that’s okay, it’s just a sensation, I’ll let myself breathe for a bit and let it go.”

Thanks to the widespread awareness of mindfulness these days, it’s easier than ever to help your team learn to deal with what’s going on in their head. For instance, the Calm app is full of guided meditations, many of which are directly related to the workplace and last less than ten minutes (making them easy to slot into schedules).

Why not offer a free subscription to everyone who works for you?

Build the right culture

Individuals need to develop the ability to become mindful and manage their emotions, but that doesn’t mean that all the responsibility for well-being takes place at the individual level. You need to have the right company culture and working environment to back up your commitment to mindfulness.

Above all, aim to help your team to feel connected to each other. You can facilitate this by the way you lead, which has a knock-on impact on how everyone acts around you and toward each other. Instead of creating a dog-eat-dog or hustle-hard environment, lead with empathy, transparency, and trustworthiness. Are you truly being honest with your team and doing your best to look out for them?

To show that you have everyone’s best interests at heart, curate an agile working environment and give everyone opportunities to try new things, plus the flexibility to take things easy when they’re struggling. You may be able to use technology to help your team to connect with each other and get more out of their job — for instance, tools that facilitate remote working or offer education.

You may also want to consider how you can give your employees a sense of purpose and connect them to the company’s greater mission.

Don’t forget the financial side

In the working world, employers often favor solutions related to improving corporate culture and providing perks of the job, while employees would simply prefer to earn more. The truth is something in between — there’s more to a positive working experience than good pay, but without financial security, you’re probably not going to get people to stick around or produce their best work.

Who is going to want to follow the guided meditations on Calm if they can’t even fill their car up with gas?

Considering the current environment with rising inflation, high interest rates, and the increasing cost of living, this isn’t something you should be neglecting. Do some market research to gauge how much other companies are giving employees with similar roles — and look at your budget to see if there’s any wiggle room to offer more.

Wellbeing is just the beginning

With the global corporate wellness market set to reach $90 billion by 2026, overlooking this could mean you get left behind. When you work on your team’s wellbeing, you won’t just be making your employees happier — you’ll increase the chances of them sticking around, being more productive, and being committed enough to the organization to lead innovation. Now, that’s something worth striving for.

Employee well-being isn’t as simple as implementing a single action, and a strategy that works for one company isn’t necessarily going to be right for every organization. But if you try various approaches and are prepared to tweak them until you figure out what works, you’ll be impressed with the results.

What’s next:

And, listen, if you’ve found yourself in the middle of a job search, the best way to get ahead of your competition is to get directly in front of decision-makers and showcase your value in relation to their needs.

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