Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, mental health and mental well-being have become common topics of discussion amongst everyone, not only human resources professionals. However, for some organizations, it may have turned into a fading trend. For employees, on the other hand, it is still an incredibly important topic.
It is common knowledge that factors such as stress, burnout, lack of appreciation, unrewarding job tasks, and more contribute to declining employee satisfaction and well-being. We have even discussed this issue in previous articles. While you cannot control how your employees handle stress, you can contribute to how stress is discussed and handled in the workplace by placing a focus on employee well-being.
Below are some steps and instructions for how to prioritize well-being in the workplace.
Understanding its importance for employees
In a study conducted by WTW (formerly Willis Towers Watson), 86% of surveyed employees noted stress, mental health, and burnout were still top priorities. The SHRM article discussing the WTW study continues on to describe four categories that employers would focus on to benefit employee well-being.
Mental well-being: This covers the emotional and mental state your employees are in as a result of their time spent working. It is likely what first comes to mind when considering well-being in the workplace. Issues such as stress and burnout fall into this category.
Physical well-being: While not often considered by employers, physical well-being is a major contributor to stress management. Even moderate exercise can reduce stress hormones and stimulate the production of endorphins, as described in this article from Harvard Health Publishing. When employees spend most of their day sitting at their desks with a lack of movement (or in more labor-intensive jobs, too much movement), it can have a negative effect on their well-being.
Financial well-being: Most people work to live, not the other way around. To reduce stress, it is beneficial for employees to seek out jobs that allow them to feel financially secure. It also contributes to overall employee satisfaction, which we discussed in this article.
Social well-being: Most people appreciate social interaction, which is why remote work was a bit off-putting at first. Providing employees with opportunities to socialize can also contribute to their overall well-being in the workplace. Even if your team operates remotely, it is still important to emphasize communication with teammates.
How to prioritize well-being in the workplace
Understanding the contributing factors toward the overall well-being of employees does not mean your job is done and your mission is successful. Now, it’s time to be proactive.
Start at the top
In order for proper action to be taken, your team needs to all be on the same page. When I say “your team,” I am not only referring to your human resources team, but I am referring to your leadership team as well.
Goals are most effectively achieved when everyone works together to obtain them. If you want well-being to be a top priority, you need to ensure your management agrees. In addition to well-being serving as a priority for employees, it is also a contributor to employee retention and productivity. For more information, read this article on improving employee satisfaction and productivity levels.
Articles and blogs, such as this one, are great resources for information. However, the best resource for understanding your employees is your employees. If you want to understand their priorities and satisfaction with their jobs, it is best to ask them directly.
We have also mentioned in previous articles the importance of transparency. If surveying your team, you shouldn’t be asking unclear questions or hoping to hear a bit of office gossip. To truly get the most out of your efforts, it is best to be direct and open-minded when breaching the topic of job satisfaction with your employees. Consider asking the following questions:
- On a scale from 1-10, how would you rate your overall satisfaction in your current role?
- What factors contribute to your satisfaction in this role?
- What improvements would you like to see made to create a more pleasant experience in your current role?
These questions are not complicated. They are not even hard to form. However, they are direct and will likely get you the answers you want (even if they aren’t easy to hear).
Once you’ve surveyed your team, whether done via phone call, email, Zoom, etc., you will have a better sense of the level of satisfaction your employees’ experience, what impacts that experience, and what can be done to improve that experience.
When employees do not feel heard or appreciated, they leave. In order to make a difference, action must be taken. This fact, I’m sure, is pretty well-understood by most. Simple as it may be, taking even the smallest steps can make a difference in increasing the satisfaction and well-being of your employees.
Depending on the feedback you received from your employees, different steps may need to be taken. For instance, if employees are noting that they find their team members disagreeable, break the teams up into smaller pods or rearrange some of the teams. Perhaps even work on team building by hosting retreats or company happy hours.
If employees are dissatisfied with the pay, well, this one is pretty self-explanatory. In case it’s not, read this article. If employees dislike commuting to work or vice versa, consider if hybrid work situations are a realistic option. Whatever the issue is, once you are aware of it, you can work to fix it.
How we feel about the work we do impacts how we feel about our lives as a whole. When our job is causing constant stress, burnout, and general unhappiness, it seeps into our personal lives. Employee well-being, in general, should be a priority for all companies. With this guide, we hope you will be able to prioritize well-being in the workplace as well.