Globally, work culture is in a state of flux and the well-being of the workforce is increasingly recognized as a priority. Right now is a pivotal moment for organizations to address mental health, physical health, and burnout, to avoid losing or failing to serve their talent. As we seemingly exit the pandemic, many organizations are promoting employee health as a basis for change and resilience, supporting personal, professional, social, and emotional development. Well-being has evolved from a token activity to an absolute priority and critical business objective.
In this article, we’ll look at eleven different strategies to develop a happier and more incentivized workforce.
Strategy One: Trust & Independence
When employers give more control to their employees and teams over how they work and when they work, people typically find more reasons for why they work. Micro-managing is a surefire way to irritate employees who simply want to be trusted to do their tasks with greater autonomy. Of course, organizations need to know that they can trust their teams to succeed, so it’s a case of delivering more training and guidance without becoming overbearing.
Strategy Two: Adequate Staffing
An understaffed workforce is a stressed workforce. Jobs should be demanding, but failing to fill your positions means that surplus work gets distributed to others and makes for unnecessarily demanding days, weeks, or even months. For organizations, the problem is two-fold. When they are understaffed and create extra pressure on their employees, this can often lead to sickness and further staff leaving. It may be costly to hire extra staff, but it’s far more costly to fail to do so.
Strategy Three: Managers as Mentors (or Well-being Leaders)
Having managers and supervisors who are supportive and understanding of the challenges that staff face in balancing their professional and personal lives is vital. Organizations can often benefit from training their management-level employees to become good mentors, helping their colleagues mentally and empathetically.
Emotional intelligence and empathy are prerequisites for managers to be able to encourage individual empowerment and drive collaboration.
Workers whose managers are also great mentors often perform better, are more likely to stay in the role, and become more engaged in their work and the company mission. Of course, not every manager is a good mentor, and not every mentor needs to be a manager, but having support from someone in a more senior position is advisable.
Transformative leadership has become the key element for businesses trying to create mentorship roles internally. In our recent Transformative Leadership Report (free download), we explore how VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) are all around us and need to be tackled and managed effectively.
Strategy Four: Rise & Shine
Employee well-being can be improved by offering and communicating opportunities for promotion, increased pay and responsibility, and chances for employees to go above and beyond to develop their skills (while impressing their peers).
Not only is giving opportunities to shine and advance seen as a key strategy to improving employee well-being but a lack of opportunity is also recognized by many as the number one reason why people would leave a business.
Strategy Five: Greater Flexibility Through Remote & Hybrid Work
More and more studies and researchers are finding that there is a noticeable correlation between job satisfaction, mental health, and how much control over working schedules a professional has. Pre-pandemic, many businesses had already embraced flexi-time, giving control over starting and finishing hours, but the growth of remote and hybrid work has gone several steps further.
Many positions can now be done entirely digitally, which pushes employees to ask the question ‘Why am I chained to a desk?’. For others, they feel that their well-being would be improved through a hybrid model, having some days of deep focused work at home, and other days to collaborate in person and attend meetings. Both styles can result in reduced labor turnover.
Strategy Six: Well-Being Benefits
Take a look at the rewards offered to new and existing employees in their contracts. For many, there are some basic coverages, like insurance, but to really improve the well-being of your employees, you should consider more health-specific rewards. Here are some ideas:
- Subsidized gym memberships
- Discount cards for food shopping
- Healthcare discounts
- Subscriptions to supportive apps and services
- Subsidized therapy
Strategy Seven: REAL Breaks!
A few simple tweaks to your break policy can have an enormous positive impact. Banning people from eating lunch at their desks and working through their lunch hour is one. Ensuring that there is a lunch hour and that people actually take it is another. Offering additional screen breaks is another good idea, such as a 5-minute pause every hour to rest the eyes.
Breaks are something that employees talk about, so if you ensure that they’re being used effectively for mental and physical rest, you can earn some loyalty and good faith from your workforce.
Strategy Eight: Well-Being Workshops
The modern employee has many strategies for coping with stress, dealing with their problems, and finding ways to become more focused and mindful. Here are a few ideas for things you can do to help them on their journey:
- Mindfulness workshops
- Stress management training
- Yoga classes
- Meditation groups
You may also find that holding these workshops creates more comradery in the workplace.
Strategy Nine: Events Outside the Workplace
Let’s expand on the comradery point. When your colleagues like each other, enjoy each other’s company and communicate well as professionals and as friends, your organization stands to benefit. People like to have friends in the workplace, it makes them happy when they walk in the door, and it provides new social opportunities. Having good relationships in the workplace leads to better performance, engagement, and especially collaboration.
As a leader trying to make developmental changes in your organization, recognizing that friendships are good for the well-being of your employees is the first step. Next, try to nurture this by creating social events and opportunities for people to bond over things more than just work. Team-building, monthly events, and interesting workshops are one way to do this. When people feel they have friends and allies in the workplace, they’re more likely to ask for help and find it.
Strategy Ten: Ask Your Employees!
Every organization is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to well-being. One of the most effective strategies to improve the well-being of your employees is to simply ask them what your organization can do better to support them. You can run a survey, ask them in performance review meetings, and even ask for feedback in internal communications. Think about what questions could be useful:
- What programs do they want to see?
- What is missing?
- What aspect of their job threatens their well-being the most?
- What adjustment to their working style can help them get more out of the job?
Strategy Eleven: Investing in Leadership & Development Programs
Sometimes overlooked by organizations seeking to improve well-being are the immense emotional benefits brought on by training, development, and opportunities. High-value employees can quickly lose their sense of well-being when they perceive a professional ceiling has been hit, and employees across departments can sometimes feel isolated and stuck when their skills are not developed and they are not given chances to collaborate and show their mettle.
We are keen to guide organizations when it comes to developing leaders. Start with our leadership training and development guide to begin understanding the changes required.
The Verdict: Well-Being is Truly Important
Businesses and organizations who fail to respect their employees' health and well-being will soon see their best talent leave for other companies that they feel will treat them better. It’s vital to avoid this at all costs!