‘Wellbeing’ is a word that has become so overworked in our vernacular, it might need a wellbeing check itself. But when it comes to prioritising wellbeing in the workplace, many managers don’t know where to start. The demands of the modern work environment can be a source of significant stress, and the way we manage our teams can impact both individuals and organisations as a whole.
In a recent poll of over 100 businesses assessed, only 12% responded as doing “extremely well” in achieving healthy work-life hours in a normal week, while a staggering 45% specifically identified as not achieving a healthy balance.
The question is how do you prioritise workplace wellbeing? And what practical strategies can help enhance employee wellbeing, work culture, and ultimately – organisational success?
The importance of wellbeing in workplace design
Before we can build effective strategies around wellbeing, we first need to identify the stressors.
In the wise words of Brené Brown, Clear is Kind. The last thing an employee should be wondering is, “What am I meant to be doing?”
Lack of clarity about one’s role and the expectations connected to that position can lead to self-doubt, anxiety and a lack of productivity. Equally, if a leader is unclear about the direction of the organisation, the impacts of doubt and uncertainty can be felt throughout a team. The biggest gift managers and leaders can provide their staff is to remove any of the guesswork and set clear expectations of an employee’s role and output.
Open up the conversation with your employees and ask whether they are clear about the tasks on which to focus their energy, particularly during busy periods. What are the priorities? What are the desirable outcomes?
Without a clear endpoint to a project, mental health can suffer by the constant feeling of “doing”. Clarity creates clear goalposts. And when employees hit those targets and complete the work at hand, they reap the benefits of a sense of satisfaction.
Once staff are clear on what they need to achieve, they need to feel that can achieve it.
Self-doubt and lack of self-belief are considerable workplace stressors that can result from a shortfall in support – perceived or real. Creating expectations with your team isn’t a matter of “set and forget”, but an ongoing relationship of support and analysis.
An employee might have the capability, but not the confidence. It’s the role of a manager to help motivate their team and provide reassurance that they have the skills to achieve their goals.
Strategies for unlocking a wellbeing-centred workplace
It’s no secret that the landscape of workplaces has changed significantly in the past three years – let alone the past twenty, when many managers and leaders were rising through the ranks.
An organisation’s success is no longer measured in profits. The picture is far broader, and includes the health of internal relationships, retention rates, talent attraction, employee satisfaction and business reputation.
Balancing these considerations is no small feat, and the burden on leaders has arguably never been greater. Given that many managers see themselves as providing professional services first and leaders second, the ‘management gap’ can quickly feel more like a chasm. Gauging the wellbeing of your staff is a good litmus test for overall organisational health and to identify areas of improvement.
Consider the following steps:
- Set a clear direction for your business
- Communicate that vision with your team
- Clarify roles and expectations with individual members
- Create personalised development plans to help achieve these expectations
- Implement weekly check-ins with employees
- Consider monthly performance and wellbeing sessions to:
- Gain insights from employees’ responses
- Review productivity against employees’ development plans
- Support and give confidence
- Provide regular feedback
Bear in mind that some staff might not feel comfortable having these frank conversations in person. Sending around an anonymous poll is a non-invasive way to invite openness and collect invaluable data points that arm leaders with the information needed to better manage their teams.
Performance shouldn’t come at the expense of wellbeing, nor should wellbeing come at the expense of results. Rather, a healthy relationship between the two has the power to create greater productivity, returns, and overall organisational growth. The secret is doing it – well.