People have come to realize that financial security and safety are not enough; they want to feel valued, a sense of belonging, and they want wellbeing in the workplace. Connection and health are intrinsically intertwined.
A recent report by the IBM Institute of Business Value showed that few employees—one out of five—gave their employer an excellent mark for supporting their wellbeing during the COVID pandemic. That means that most organizations have an opportunity to lean into wellbeing like never before.
Business leaders are invited to rethink the workplace strategy, and some corporations have gone as far as implementing unique approaches to helping the individuals under their care.
So, what strategies should employers invest in to support their most valuable asset?
Think Holistically to Support Employees’ Emotional and Mental Wellbeing
Emotional and Mental health issues are on the rise partly due to the lack of investment from corporate leaders into programs that positively impact wellbeing. In fact, after a year of isolation and remote working, most employees are ill-equipped to deal with greater levels of anxiety and depression.
For the longest time, we as a society have built the workplace as a rigid professional space devoid of humanity and not a sanctuary where employees could take refuge. Thanks to the disruption caused by the pandemic, business leaders can now have a conversation about integration. Employees no longer wish to separate their personas in one at home and one for the work-from-home or office. Employees carry their stress and anxiety into their work, so it’s up to leaders to help alleviate that.
The situation is likely to exacerbate with employees having conversations with their colleagues about personal losses and fielding questions about their vaccination status by the HR department.
For the future success of the organizations, employers should embrace the change to create a culture of transparency where wellbeing is at the center. Investing in grief coaching, meditation, and somatic emotional release to support employees through stressful circumstances can have a remarkable impact. Such investments will not only help the individuals to heal and feel valued, but will also help organizations retain talent.
Embrace Uncomfortable Conversations
One way that the pandemic has changed the workplace is in its approach to conversations. Many employers are finding it hard to handle the most uncomfortable topics, but embracing them is the way to go.
Some socio-political conversations have been avoided for a long time due to their highly-charged nature. However, during the pandemic, we have seen people talking about these tough topics, from workplace conditions to political issues.
By excluding yourself from these strenuous topics or banning them, your organization is likely to lose in many ways. It may be reputation damage or lower output, or even loss of talent, as recently witnessed at Basecamp and Coinbase.
That means that employees will now be in a great position to initiate conversations around sensitive topics and promote a sense of belonging in the office. The workplace should look at the tough topics as an opportunity to help their employees. If you are willing to embrace uncomfortable conversations and approach them head-on, you will likely find that employees are more prepared to open up and talk about their fears.
Engage a Range Of Experts To Assist Your Workforce
Part of the problem organizations face when dealing with wellbeing is that they think they can get solved internally. This view has caused many to take a top-down approach in which they rely on their Human resources department and managers to address these issues.
However, most managers and HR professionals are not trained to deal with wellbeing issues within their organization effectively. Instead, they have to enlist the help of professionals.
With COVID-19, many organizations had to deal with employees struggling with mental health issues and integrate them back into the workplace. That means that managers need to be better equipped with the requisite skills to deal with employees that are facing periods of distress.
Enlist a range of experts from mental health and emotional intelligence coaches, vetted consultants, engaging speakers, and executive leadership coaches. It will not only help you offer support to employees but also prepare your team and managers.
As a Gratitude expert represented by Consciousness Leaders, I am in the company of other experts across a variety of specializations—and who have historically been underrepresented, including women, BIPOC, LGBTQ and people living with a disability.
Organizational change is a process and requires commitment. It may require approaching uncomfortable conversations directly, supporting employees through periods of distress, and enlisting a range of experts.
If you are willing to take these steps, you will likely find that your organization is more equipped to handle challenges in the future—because your people will feel more connected than every before.