Why employee wellbeing is more critical in times of uncertainty
The turbulent economic climate and the pressures associated with rising costs have revealed new challenges for leaders, which are essential to supporting employees in these difficult and uncertain times.
While mental health and wellbeing will already be high on the agenda of most leaders, the implications of financial hardship will weigh more heavily on many employees, exacerbating existing wellbeing issues.
The impact of financial worries on work and employee engagement is a concern for leaders with a recent study finding that one in four employees believed that money worries affected their ability to do their job. This included those with higher incomes.
To make employees feel safe and to maintain a productive workplace, leaders need to establish a proactive wellness framework with which they can guide employees.
Here are five key things to consider:
1 Identify employee needs
A well-thought-out wellness strategy must effectively meet the needs of those for whom it is designed. Tailoring your wellness strategy based on employee feedback should be a fundamental step in creating it.
Leaders should practice active listening and consider what employees say with empathy. Surveying employees’ needs will help establish the most effective strategy possible that aligns with the needs they have expressed to you. This serves a dual purpose of educating wellness executives, while encouraging employees to open up and helping them feel seen and heard.
2 Create a psychologically safe space
Creating a psychologically safe space is essential to meeting the needs of employees, as the process requires that they feel they can be open and honest without judgment or negative consequences.
Personal discussions about mental health or financial difficulties can be embarrassing and uncomfortable topics for employees to discuss with senior management. It must be approached with the utmost understanding and empathy. Remember that as a leader, you don’t need to have all the answers to solve the problems presented to you by employees. You just need to be available, present and able to report the appropriate support.
3 Building supportive communities
Support must be available at the top but must also be encouraged throughout the organization between colleagues. Meaningful relationships in the workplace can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to cope with the support of those around them. Open communication among employees builds connections, challenges mental health stigmas and strengthens communities.
Not everyone has the same natural levels of resilience or the same stress management approaches. For struggling employees, hearing from those around them can encourage the learning of healthy habits and coping mechanisms based on the advice of their peers. Leaders need to ensure that the processes that flow between employees are healthy and don’t spread bad habits.
4 Promote healthy boundaries
Many people have developed unhealthy work habits over time and therefore fail to handle pressure and protect themselves from burnout. Faced with overwhelming responsibilities and stress, many employees will overwork themselves and not know when to slow down.
This can become especially serious when people are under heightened pressures in their personal lives, such as personal finances. To avoid energy and production depletion across the workforce and a potential decline in mental well-being, limits must be actively encouraged.
Healthy boundaries should be encouraged and maintained as part of the corporate culture. Leaders can prioritize this by setting their own boundaries and protecting them. By setting a positive example, healthy work habits will spread throughout the organization. If employees begin to show signs of burnout, such as being visibly tired, detached, or cynical, it’s important to act quickly and offer support.
5 Provide accessible support services
Internal and external support should be reported to staff. While managers and HR departments have a duty of care to staff, professionals such as counselors and psychotherapists should also be accessible and can offer expert advice and toolkits for dealing with issues. of well-being. For specific help with financial concerns, organizations such as the Money and Pensions Service offer free and unbiased financial advice through MoneyHelperand should be promoted to staff rank.
In addition to being strongly signposted, it is essential that support services are easily accessible. When organizations bury help desks in bureaucracy, help is limited due to the lack of quick access when people need it most.
A proactive wellness framework that encourages a safe and supportive corporate culture will help leaders take preventive rather than reactive action. Addressing wellness issues before they become urgent is essential to maintaining a safe and productive workforce.
About Lesley Cooper
Lesley Cooper is a management consultant with over 25 years of experience designing and implementing all elements of employee wellness management programs. In 1997, Lesley founded Works well, an award-winning specialist consultancy that helps companies manage workplace pressure in ways that facilitate growth and development. WorkingWell has been shortlisted for ‘Best Wellbeing Service Provider’ at the Great British Workplace Wellbeing Awards 2021.