Updated: Jul 2, 2021
As businesses go back to working in person, they need to revamp previously toxic work settings and engage in flexible working conditions alongside empathic leadership to avoid employee burnout and disengagement.
Employees are under duress as they transition back to working in person. They are struggling to make new plans for childcare, grieving the loss of their loved ones and the death of community members. They are also establishing new work hours that limit their flexibility to practice self-care in-between meetings. And none the less, still panicking about the impacts of COVID-19. Not that it was any easier to balance our lives during the pandemic, but transitioning back to working in person has allotted its stressors for many workers struggling to manage their mental and physical well-being. According to Catalyst (2021), "92% of employees say they are experiencing burnout from the stress related to their workplace, their Covid-19 work experiences, and/or their personal lives."
So how can employers adapt their company culture to prioritize employee wellness?
Practice empathy. While many would agree that compassion should be a part of the natural makeup of the workplace, it has hardly gone past the word for some organizations. According to Forbes (2019), "92% of CEOs feel their organization is empathetic, only 50% of their employees say their CEO is empathetic". When we practice empathy, we take the time to listen and understand what each other are saying. Instead of asking questions and building relationships with their workers, they act busily and avoid seeking feedback from others when making decisions. This leaves more room for employees to feel devalued and disengaged from their work.
Create flexible working conditions. If the shutting down of non-essential businesses during the pandemic has taught us anything, employees can perform some work remotely. Catalyst, who surveyed 7,487 employees across the globe, found that many of them preferred to work remotely, at least some of the time (2021). When employers are flexible in allowing their employees to work, they become more engaged, which helps companies build retention and save money. From a joint study on disengagement in the workplace, researchers from The Conference Board, Sirota-Mercer, Deloitte, ROI, The Culture Works, and Consulting LLP found "that disengaged employees cost companies between $450 and $550 billion a year" (hrdive.com, 2017).
Commit and initiate well-being programs and initiatives. "Self-care" is becoming a hot topic in the workplace but isn't often implemented into our daily practices at work. There needs to be a firm commitment from business leaders to see real change within the company culture. Employees should learn about mental and physical wellness, including stress management, self-care, healing, and relationship management, to enhance self-development and establish authentic relationships with their colleagues and superiors. Forbes (2019) notes that businesses enhancing internal wellness programs deepen their commitment to the company culture. I also would add that this attracts applicants and retains employees in the long run.
Businesses need to think about the longevity of their brand and invest in their employees to maintain it. It is a cultural shift within itself to stop "business as usual" and target mental and well-being, but a well-made investment. When we protect our employees, we protect our most valuable asset (Forbes, 2019).
Having issues engaging your staff or need help brainstorming efficient wellness programs for your team? Contact us today.
Bolden-Barrett, V. (2017, March 8). Study: Disengaged employees can cost companies up to $550B a year. Hrdive.com. https://www.hrdive.com/news/study-disengaged-employees-can-cost-companies-up-to-550b-a-year/437606/
Bommel, T. V. (2021). Remote-Work Options Can Boost Productivity and Curb Burnout Report. Catalyst.org. https://www.catalyst.org/reports/remote-work-burnout-productivity/
Forbes. (2019, January 16).10 Timely Statistics About The Connection Between Employee Engagement And Wellness. Forbes.com. https://www.forbes.com/sites/nazbeheshti/2019/01/16/10-timely-statistics-about-the-connection-between-employee-engagement-and-wellness/?sh=3ab644d622a0