HR professionals, managers, and senior leaders have tried to focus more on employee well-being and employee engagement for many years. But despite the increased focus, employee burnout has reached new highs, leading the World Health Organization to declare workplace burnout an occupational phenomenon in 2019—before the COVID-19 pandemic!
After the massive disruption in spring 2020, many workers reported new lows in their personal wellbeing and mental health levels. And now, as teams worldwide look at adopting permanent hybrid and remote work models, good leaders must ask—how can we help encourage and cultivate a strong sense of wellbeing in this era of disruption and rapid change?
Employee engagement isn’t necessarily improved by implementing a wellness program or encouraging the team to see each other socially. While those things can be valuable, creating a strong sense of well-being on your team is more about pursuing a holistic and integrated approach to employment, especially in a hybrid or remote environment. As employees try to integrate work into their living spaces and simultaneously stay connected and engaged with employers and team members, it’s more important than ever to be intentional about encouraging your team’s sense of wellbeing.
Although there’s no specific “one size fits all” way to improve the wellbeing of your team members or the overall team sense of wellbeing, there are some things that can help.
1. Identify Actual Versus Perceived Expectations
Frustration crops up when leaders and team members have significantly different expectations or perceptions of expectations. Take the time to talk with your team and ensure expectations are aligned. Aligning expectations may be simple, or it may require a significant time investment, but the process will help reduce anxiety.
2. Write Out and Set Realistic, Achievable Goals
Quality leaders want people to feel good about their contributions to the team and company goals. It’s essential that people feel like they can achieve what they set out to do when they come to work. Setting realistic, achievable goals is an excellent way to help team members get some wins and earn a sense of accomplishment
3. Check-In and Listen
Leaders must check-in and listen to team members regularly, but it’s especially vital In a work model where people don’t see each other in person daily. Leaders should ask open-ended questions to assess how their team members are functioning in a non-traditional environment. Do they have all the technology tools they need? Are they struggling to feel connected to the larger company goals and purpose? How can the company support them to accomplish their goals?
4. Don't Limit the Wellbeing Conversation to One Thing
It’s tempting to think that just implementing a basic wellness program or paying attention to mental health is enough to encourage wellbeing. But team members are whole people, and wellbeing includes both life and work factors. Talk about wellbeing across the spectrum as much as team members are comfortable, and keep the avenues of discussion open in a way that encourages people to integrate their work and personal sides.
5. Champion Accomplishments without regrets
Don’t wait for the big victory. Celebrate everyday achievements, efforts, and progress toward bigger goals. And of course, when you reach those big goals, celebrate those, too!
Employee wellbeing and engagement are closely connected; a Gallup survey found that 92% of employees who report a high sense of wellbeing and strong engagement consider themselves “thriving” in an overall life evaluation. For leaders, cultivating a sense of wellbeing and encouraging engagement is more important than ever. By making wellbeing a priority, you’ll reduce the risk of burnout on your team and keep your team thriving for the long term.