We know there’s a strong correlation between employee health and their performance. And since COVID-19 hit, our wellbeing has plummeted:
“Lockdown has affected my mental health for the first time in my life – I look back at myself in March and see a different person … About a month ago I was diagnosed with an eating disorder.” – Cassius Hackforth, UK
We must take workplace wellbeing seriously. Employers, there are ways you can support your employees. And everybody, you can learn how to help yourselves.
So here I share how you can engage with 5 pillars of workplace wellbeing to improve your own health. Making a few simple changes can lead to huge benefits – for you and your colleagues.
Pillar 1: Mental and emotional wellbeing
Good mental and emotional wellbeing helps us make healthy choices. It means we can recognise our value, worth and potential and are more able to share our talents and skills with the world. We can communicate well with others and thrive in our relationships.
Whether you’re based at home or elsewhere for work, communication is key in supporting your mental health. So it’s important to keep connected.
If you’re a manager try scheduling regular catchups with your team to see how they’re doing, perhaps including some non-work chat to help them feel at ease.
Or why not do a mental health first aid course? This will teach you and your colleagues to spot signs and symptoms of mental ill-health, provide support and signpost others to further help.
However you choose to look after your team/ yourself, when people feel valued and cared for it will boost morale creating a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.
Pillar 2: Social wellbeing
As human’s we need social connections to feel we belong. When we’re supported by and connected to our part of society that’s when we feel included.
Since COVID-19 reared its ugly head it’s become more obvious how important everyday human interactions are. You know, the lunch with colleagues, drinks after work, a chat over the watercooler. And it’s hard to replicate these things virtually. Disconnection is now an urgent workplace issue along with burnout and stress.
To improve your social wellbeing maybe there are new ways to be with your colleagues. Could you arrange an online class to do as a team – exercise or cooking perhaps? Or why not plan a proper lunchbreak – yes, I mean one of those where you stop work to enjoy each other’s company – even if it has to be online.
And what social things do you enjoy outside work? By making time for them it could boost your overall wellbeing. Here are a few ideas: cooking, going for a walk or doing something crafty, photography, chilling out with essential oils.
Pillar 3: Physical wellbeing
Recently many of us have been exercising less and eating more, and there have been significant impacts on our sleep. But for good physical wellbeing – i.e. when you have a healthy, balanced and optimally functioning body – you need to move more, eat well and get enough quality sleep. This will help boost your energy and make you more resilient against stress.
As an employer, providing decent office chairs, encouraging time for daily exercise (anyone for a daily steps competition?) or providing healthy snacks could all help your staff. But you can also help yourself…
- Make sure you get out for a daily walk if you can
- Try some new healthy snacks (I’ve loved cooking and eating new things this year)
- Keep technology out of your bedroom and switch it off before bedtime to promote quality sleep
Pillar 4: Digital wellbeing
Technology is a great tool for many things, not least keeping in touch with loved ones during a global pandemic! It’s helped our social wellbeing at a time when we haven’t been able to physically meet much and allowed us to keep working.
But it can take over our lives if we’re not careful. When working remotely it’s easy to blur the line between work and home life making it harder to switch off at the end of your working day. How often do you check your phone or email ‘just once more’ when you should be focusing on your kids (or whatever)?
As an employer you can help your staff by taking the rules of the office into the virtual world – like specifying the hours they should be available to send or receive emails. And if you can remind them they don’t have to ‘prove’ they’re working by responding instantly to messages, this can help productivity and wellbeing. Multitasking does not increase productivity.
If you can avoid ‘doomscrolling,’ the endless scrolling through news on social media and other apps, you’ll also feel better. One thing I do outside work hours is lock technology away after a certain time (yes really – into the filing cabinet it goes) so I’m not tempted to waste hours sucking up negative news.
Pillar 5: Financial wellbeing
Financial wellbeing is how you feel about the control you have over your financial future – and your relationship with money – including how well you respond to financial unpredictability and unexpected expenses.
Many of us have been impacted financially recently – furlough, payouts, redundancy threats etc – and it can have a huge impact on you mentally. While it may seem there’s not a lot you can do about it, there is…
As an employer you can help remove the stigma around talking about money by providing your employees with the education, tools and support they need to manage their finances effectively. Or you could signpost them to impartial advisers.
If your employer is being unhelpful, there is other support available.
The key to positive change
Employers, these five pillars of workplace wellbeing can help you support your employees. Everybody, they will help you feel better
The key to positive change is taking small steps. Try one thing at a time and see how it impacts you. Then add in something else. Which pillar will you start working on today?
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