Nov 11, 2020
To say the "world's largest work-from-home experiment" has presented challenges would be an understatement. These challenges range from strategy and brand loyalty to customer centricity and employee wellbeing.
While it might have been easy to dismiss well-being as simply a personal matter in the past, top leaders and managers who emphasize it will see significant returns.
Employees with high well-being are more resilient during widespread or personal tough times, are less likely to have unplanned days out of the office, and have better performance than those with low well-being.
The data tell us that remote workers have experienced well-being challenges, including ergonomics and lower back pain, poor mental and emotional wellbeing, less exercise, low self-care, and fewer social connections. Here's how leaders can address each of these relevant topics with their teams and organization.
Stress and Mental Wellbeing
On average, only 5% of employees reach out to their employee assistance program (EAP) each year. Yet many people are experiencing mental stressors: Gallup data from May showed that about half (47%) of employees felt worried, and 24% felt lonely "during a lot of the day yesterday." Leaders can encourage EAP utilization by bringing in experts to discuss it, identifying champions of mental health within the organization or its partners, and consistently communicating about program benefits. Leaders don't need to be mental health experts; they need to become a conduit to the right resources.
Zoom gatherings have helped boost team relationships because employees have an opportunity to be more vulnerable (i.e., introducing their homes, pets, and children) and see their leaders in a more authentic home setting. But still, employees crave an even deeper solution. To promote social wellbeing, leaders should create a work environment that is conducive to friendship.
Gallup finds that women who strongly agree they have a best friend at work are twice as likely to be engaged as those who say otherwise.
Strong social connections outside of work are essential as well. Leaders and managers should ask employees about their friends and loved ones and ask employees to share stories about time spent away from work to demonstrate their authentic care.
One of the best ways to sustain team physical wellbeing is by providing a robust organizational wellness program. Leaders should actively participate in well-being initiatives to stay current, strengthen relationships, and encourage employees to participate. When leaders are involved, it "green lights" individuals to activate and experiment with new ways to move and live healthy lives.
As we moved to home offices, many of us settled into chairs and workspaces that don't meet our body's musculoskeletal (MSK) system needs.
Even if leaders can't immediately offer home ergonomic solutions, they can aid workers by sharing free resources like professional videos and advice about reducing the risk and severity of ergonomic ailments.
Prioritizing individual well-being over a long list of responsibilities is easier said than done for many. Leaders should communicate that self-care is more than a trip to the spa; it includes a range of items from getting clinically recommended screenings to relaxing to intentionally using your strengths. Gallup research found that those who spent more time using their strengths experienced less worry, stress, anger, sadness, and pain.
Employee wellbeing isn't something leaders can afford to overlook - on the contrary, it's more important than ever. Leaders who start prioritizing employee wellbeing will start seeing how it correlates with employee engagement - and, in turn, a host of personal and business outcomes.
Reprinted with permission from Gallup.