Wellbeing and mental health at work have been the hot topics of the last year. As we peer around the corner towards fewer restrictions, it’s important to keep employee wellbeing on the priority list.
Employee wellbeing feeds into all other organisational initiatives. It’s fundamental to organisational resilience, health and engagement. Leaders who are not burnt out will show strength and fairness in their roles. And, teams who are not burnt out will be adaptable and agile, ready to manage change and uncertainty.
Focusing on wellbeing isn’t just for these Covid times and temporarily remote teams. It should sit at the centre of your people strategy at all times.
Emotional intelligence and personal resilience
Emotional intelligence and personal resilience are essential to employee wellness and wellbeing. The ability to remain composed under pressure and respond appropriately is central to maintaining a healthy equilibrium at work. To do this people need emotional awareness. That is to understand their own emotions and be mindful of their own reactions. Of course, people who display their emotions with outwardly volcanic eruptions are easy to spot. It’s those people who tend to retreat into unhealthy working practices (burning the midnight oil, taking on too much, self-sabotaging behaviour or slowly losing their mojo) that are harder to identify, especially when working remotely and/or isolation at home. This is where HR should come into its own, which of course may be easier said than done if there is pushback from the organisation’s leaders and budget-holders.
Yet it is not just the wellbeing of teams that we are talking about here. Leaders are expected to look after the wellbeing of their teams, but who is looking after the leaders? It’s unlikely to be the top level C suite, who themselves also deserve focus if they are to deliver the strong leadership the organisation needs to weather the pandemic. A recent report cited that almost three-quarters of SME leaders are inches away from burnout while self-sabotaging leadership paranoia is also on the rise. Organisations need to take positive action now to prevent long term damage to their leaders and teams.
The role of HR
This is the role of HR: to identify the need for a well-being support strategy, seek out the solutions appropriate to their organisation and crucially, present a business case for the spend.
We know that soft skills can be a ‘difficult sell’. However, the overwhelming array of statistics in the HR press show that people need better support if they are to continue to perform at their best. Leaders need training and coaching to develop their emotional intelligence and personal resilience in order to better support their teams as they in turn grapple with the challenges to their own wellbeing.
As we look ahead to the economy reopening in the coming months, organisations need to be sure that they have the right people in the right jobs, ready to make the most of every opportunity. Recruiters need to have one eye on the character traits that are the ingredients for success in the role. They should also look for the skills that the individual might need to develop in order to maintain their wellbeing in the role. For instance, a candidate may be spot-on in terms of personality traits but benefit from consistent coaching to help them to be more adaptable, optimistic or assertive. It’s important to remember that none of us is a finished, perfect product. We all need support which is often most effectively given through independent coaching, especially at leadership level. Having these insights at the beginning of the employee life-cycle will improve the development and retention of your best people, rather than risk losing them to burn out.
We have learnt that wellbeing isn’t a fluffy ‘nice to have’. It’s crucial to the success of all organisations. While there may be hundreds chasing every vacancy at the moment, the right people are not expendable. It is bad practice, morally and financially, to lose them to an enemy such as burnout which can be avoided with a little time and investment.
Wellbeing and engagement
There is an argument that wellbeing and engagement is boosted by higher pay and more time off. While this may work in the short term it won’t wash for long. Above all, people need to be treated with empathy, as human beings by human beings. The current high unemployment rates, caused by the downturn in high street retail and hospitality, won’t last forever. With reduced migrant labour for lower paid jobs, employers may find it harder to recruit, especially in roles which are less sociable, more physical and less accessible than many are used to, e.g. warehouse staffing. In order to be an employer of choice organisations will need workplace environments with cultures based on employee wellbeing rather than expendable, cheap labour.
Where does your organisation sit on the subject of wellbeing at work? What support do you need to help senior leaders understand the importance of investing in your wellbeing in the workplace culture? Drop us a line using the form below.
We’re a team who practice what we preach. 2020 was tough, but we made it through with perseverance, motivation and above all by supporting each other. Contact us to find out how we can help you to do the same.
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