Employee Wellbeing Should Be at the Heart of the New Normal
As noted in last week’s blog, as the economy has opened up again, employees at all levels are looking at their options and deciding if their current position is fulfilling their needs. In addition, COVID brought to light the importance of family and work-life balance, so employees’ priorities may now be very different from what they valued before. Employee wellbeing is at an all-time low, and its effects are being seen as many employees look not just for a bigger paycheck, but more importantly for a better work-life experience. How should companies respond to these new needs from their staff?
Actually, taking care of employee wellbeing is not a new concept. A number of HR institutes have conducted studies on this topic and unfortunately the results are not rosy. Well before the pandemic, a study of over 2,000 employees rated their life at work at an average of 5 out of 10; and when the study was done again five years later the results were the same. Employee wellbeing affects turnover, performance and the overall health of an organization; and the pandemic only amplified the stressors employees face. So let’s look at some ways employers can improve these statistics.
Wellbeing is not just about physical wellbeing, it also involves aspects such as social satisfaction, job engagement, and financial security.
Most people spend the majority of their waking hours with their co-workers, so having a fun supportive social environment at work is vital for having a healthy wellbeing. Managers can help create this environment by:
- encouraging team interaction on projects,
- including small talk and personal updates in meetings and throughout the day (esp. if employees cannot be physically together/work remotely),
- regularly checking in on employees in 1-on-1s, etc.
Sure we have to get the work out the door, but taking the time to simply show you care about your staff will reap many rewards in higher productivity, retention and engagement.
Liking what you do and being motivated to achieve your goals is a wonderful way to live each day. In “work speak” we call this employee engagement. There are many ways companies can help their employees engage with their work, such as:
- Make sure that new employees are well trained and supported. – Nothing is more frustrating that coming into a new work environment, just to be left to flounder with no support system. Providing new employees with a mentor they can turn to that is outside of their supervisor, gives them support and a resource to ask questions to that they may not want to bring up directly to a new supervisor.
- Once employees are up to speed, give them autonomy to make decisions about their day-to-day duties. - As frustrating as it is to be left to flounder as an untrained new employee, it is equally frustrating to be micro-managed and have no say in how you do your job.
- Provide opportunities to learn new skills and a path for upward mobility. – Knowing that there is room for growth and a chance to learn new skills will keep your employees motivated to engage in their work. They will see that their hard work is going to lead them somewhere.
These are just some ideas to help engage your employees (we have discussed this topic in more detail in other blog articles), but the need for improving employee engagement is well known.
Financial wellbeing is not about paying employees more. It is creating an environment and opportunities for employees to feel safe and secure financially. This may include making sure employees know how to access their financial benefits (insurance coverage, investing and 401K financial education and advising, etc.). It also includes making them feel safe about their future employment, by being transparent about the health of the company and regularly reminding employees that they are an important and integral part of the organization.
Taking care of employees’ physical health is still an important part of one’s overall wellbeing. Employee’s who take care of their physical selves have fewer sick days, have more energy to get things done and a brighter outlook on life, so are more engaged in their work. Employers can encourage physical health with wellness programs that include such things as rewards for annual physicals, nutrition counseling, weight loss program discounts, gym memberships, etc.
You can’t keep employees from seeing the other opportunities that are out in the work world. However, you can make the position they have and the company they work for as attractive as possible. By taking care of your employees and their wellbeing, you not only make your company attractive to current employees, but word will get out and you will be attractive to employees at other companies looking at their options!
By Ann Condon, Marketing Manager
Ann Condon has been with Dion for 17 years, working in Dion’s Marketing and Business Development Department. Although this was her first position with a jewelry manufacturer, she has learned a lot over the years. Ann enjoys getting involved in “All Things Dion” from volunteering at the Dion Golf Tournament to being a part of the Dion Diamonds Relay for Life Team. She has quite a number of Dion event t-shirts to show for it!
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