Is it worth sorting out a wellbeing program in my business Doctor Digital - I'm not sure it's worth the money, but I know my staff are stressed and tired after so many months of COVID?
Doctor Digital Says
One of the few upsides of COVID has been the recognition of how the months of uncertainty, risk, isolation and change have impacted our individual and collective mental health. Right from the getgo in those early months, predictions were that there would be a significant wave of mental health presentations. What we are definitely seeing in businesses of all sizes from owners and staff alike is a level of fatigue and burnout that seems to be across all sectors. The broad definition of social and emotional wellbeing is for individuals to feel good, have a positive attitude to life and their future, have the capacity to bounce back from setbacks, and maintain healthy relationships. This state of being leads to a wholeheartedly better life, and the benefits don’t stop at the individual level.
Building a culture of social and emotional wellbeing in the workplace creates more resilient, productive and happy employees within the work culture. It means as a team they can better cope with setbacks, take advantage of opportunities, support each other and contribute more to the business. Just like thinking that the mind and body are separate, thinking that the impacts to the people don't impact culture is flawed. When you have a strong healthy business culture that cares for its people - both internal and clients/customers, you have a business that is better able to manage risk and uncertainty and bounce back fast. The insecurity caused by the business environment is able to be buffered by the security of the management environment and culture.
The reason we are more often seeing consideration given to social and emotional wellness programs within businesses is not purely compassion. (GASP!) No, there is a solid body of research that demonstrates the value of investing in some form of social and emotional wellbeing program for your people and how that translates into better outcomes for your business. Online accounting platform Xero recently released a report that revealed for every dollar a small business owner invests in company-wide wellbeing initiatives for their staff, they can expect to see a return of up to 12x within a year. That is a pretty good ROI.
The bottom line is that you can't afford to not invest in social and emotional wellbeing for your people, but don't panic. It doesn't have to be complex or expensive. There are some simple steps you can take to start the process. If you have staff, contractors or manage people in any way, you are dealing with mental health - theirs and yours. Nearly 50 per cent of us will experience a mental health issue in our prime working lives, so it makes sense to be prepared both proactively to encourage a wellness-based environment and have tools available to help your peeps bounce back when they hit a rough patch.
Let's start with the social and emotional wellbeing first. Making your workplace an open and safe place for people to be themselves is a great start. You might want to take a mental health first aid course or even offer it to all your staff, there are options all around Tasmania, to help you get aware about what you can do, what some of the signs people are struggling are, and how to help if crisis hits.
Social and emotional wellbeing is all about building healthy, contented, safe cultures for whole people to thrive in. You can make digital resources available free for your staff to help them to practice mindfulness and increase their focus, presence and calm. Online apps designed for businesses all offer programs with short snappy mindful programs to enhance social and emotional wellbeing, with freemium and premium models. Here are links to some of the best online options for the workplace. You can encourage wellness activities in the workplace in real life too - exercise, outside times, downtime, team times, fun times, anything that you can do that will create a strong bonded culture. Participate in RUOK Day, and authentically find ways to show your people that their wellbeing matters.
You don't have to come up with all the solutions - social and emotional wellness is everyone's responsibility as a team. Ask them what they want and need and allow them to devise fun and innovative ways to engage with their social and emotional wellbeing. Your leadership role is to greenlight, champion and help implement. Yes, this takes time and time is quantifiable, but so is staff turnover, sick leave, and compensation claims, so it pays to be proactive.
To make sure you are prepared, get an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place. Many of these have retainer style or on-demand payments so you pay when your staff use them. These programs are run by psychologists, psychotherapists, and counselors and are anonymous for staff to use. They cover any aspect of their mental wellbeing and will discuss referral to a specialist if needed. Encourage your people to use the service and make sure they realise that it is not going to impact their jobs so they don't feel stigmatised and isolated. A lot of these services are now online and also have wellness apps to help your people keep on top of everything - simples!
Importantly, openly communicate with your team about how they are - and how you are. A little vulnerability and transparency goes a long way to building healthy cultures. Have regular check-ins, build trust and the vocabulary of emotional language in your workplace, be patient, listen to learn, keep their confidences, and be non-judgemental.
When people feel psychologically safe in the workplace, they are more likely to seek help and support early before things reach a crisis. Interestingly recent research showed that around 90 per cent of employees think mental health is an important issue for businesses, but only 50 per cent believe their workplace is mentally healthy. That's a big gap in cultural wellness - let's close it.
Just implementing small things regularly can make a big difference to workplace wellness and your culture, espacially right now, there's never been a better time to start. So, is it time to get bouncing back in your business, mind and soul? One of our Digital Ready coaches can help you as part of your free four hours of Digital Ready Coaching available annually to Tasmanian businesses with an ABN. Book a session here.