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One of my takeaways from the past year is that wellbeing must be employee centric. Organizations cannot mandate wellbeing. When it comes to wellbeing programs, organizations do need to create the environment, then get out of the way and let employees engage with it. That being said, there are a few specific things organizations should consider when it comes to supporting employee wellbeing and creating the right environment for wellbeing programs to thrive.
- Wellbeing and wellness are two different things. Many of us use the terms interchangeably, but there’s a distinction to be made. Wellness tends to focus on our physical health. Wellbeing not only includes our physical health but our emotional, financial, spiritual, etc. Gallup research shows that 85% of large companies have wellness programs but only 40% use them. Why? Because the focus is on wellness and not wellbeing.
- Learn how to set expectations. Life goes on while we’re sleeping, eating, etc. We don’t have to answer non-emergency communication within ten minutes. Emergencies – yes, those need immediate attention. But define what constitutes an emergency and needs an immediate response.
- Then learn how to respect other people’s boundaries. If we want other people to respect our boundaries, we have to respect theirs. This doesn’t mean that we can’t send an email at 10p – maybe we’re in another time zone. It does mean we shouldn’t expect someone to answer it right away.
- Each of us has a different burnout point. Stress and wellbeing are very subjective things. What is stressful to one person might be completely natural to someone else. It’s important for us to recognize how stress impacts us personally and be prepared to discuss our stress triggers.
- Digital devices aren’t a substitute for communication. Technology is a wonderful thing. Both individuals and organizations benefit from mobile devices. That doesn’t mean we can or should stop speaking to each other. It also doesn’t mean that we’ve instantly become omnipotent. Communication still needs to exist in many forms. We need to match the message with the right medium.
- Organizations cannot mandate digital detoxes. Instead, they should support an employee who would like to take a digital detox. Especially when we’re talking about vacation. Employees work hard to wrap up loose ends before they go on vacation so they do not have to pay attention to their email inbox while they’re out. For wellbeing, give them their much-deserved break.
- Never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep. There’s tons of research talking about the value of sleep. It helps our productivity. It makes us think better. It improves our physical health. Not to mention that whole reduction of crankiness. Allow employees to get their sleep. It will improve their performance.
- Don’t confuse wellbeing with being organized. Although disorganization can lead to unproductivity which can lead to being overwhelmed and stressed, being organized doesn’t mean we’re automatically productive and not overwhelmed. We should try our best to get organized then discover the best way to deal with our stress.
The American Psychological Association reports in their “Stress in America 2020” report that 64% of adults cite work as a source of stress. There’s so much conversation about the presence or absence of work / life balance and the importance of employees having a sense of wellbeing. Addressing employee wellbeing isn’t some feel good mantra. It’s a workplace imperative.
Organizations who are able to support employee wellbeing will find more engagement and retention as a result.17