Many businesses have been pushing their employees to perform at new levels since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. Consider these statistics recently shared by the Harvard Business Review on how workloads increased between February 2020 and February 2022:
• Weekly team meetings increased by 252 percent
• Six billion more email messages were sent
• Average after-hours work increased by 28 percent
Running at this increased pace has cost businesses, with more than 50 million people leaving their jobs in 2022 alone as part of a phenomenon that has come to be known as the Great Resignation. One in five workers who quit during the Great Resignation cited too many work hours as the reason, while one in three said they felt disrespected at work.
As organizations struggle to deal with this new reality, many are finding that programs promoting self-care can be valuable tools for attracting and retaining top talent. By promoting and supporting self-care practices, organizations create a workplace environment that encourages and empowers employees to be engaged, productive, and loyal.
What does self-care involve?
In general, self-care involves taking steps to prioritize mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Those steps include a wide variety of practices, from getting a good night’s sleep to maintaining a healthy diet and pushing back when people or practices violate our boundaries. The goal of self-care is to establish and maintain a healthy and satisfying lifestyle.
Organizations promote self-care through practices, policies, and a culture that encourages employees to prioritize their mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Implementing the following strategies can help organizations to support employee self-care.
Promote work-life balance
Work-life balance has become a key consideration for job hunters in the aftermath of the pandemic. Recent stats show that 72 percent of those seeking employment see work-life balance as an important factor. Furthermore, 57 percent say they won’t consider a job that doesn’t allow for a healthy work-life balance.
The first step toward promoting a healthy work-life balance is clear communication regarding working hours. This allows employees to understand priorities, plan effectively, and perform without the stress that can flow from ambiguity.
Organizations can promote healthy work-life balance by promoting flexible work arrangements when feasible. A culture that values time off and respects personal boundaries will also promote work-life balance.
Patagonia is a company that is well known for its commitment to work-life balance and employee well-being by offering flexible work arrangements, including flexible schedules and the option to work remotely. The company also provides onsite childcare, encourages outdoor activities during work hours, and supports employee activism.
Provide wellness programs
Employer-sponsored wellness programs support employee self-care by providing health education and resources. They can include initiatives such as gym memberships, yoga, or meditation classes, health screenings, stress management workshops, or employee-assistance programs. Organizations that provide wellness programs demonstrate a commitment to employee health and encourage employees to prioritize self-care.
Google is renowned for its employee wellness programs and benefits, including on-site fitness centers, access to healthy meals, mindfulness and meditation classes, and encouraging employees to take breaks and prioritize work-life balance. Google also provides resources for stress management and mental-health support.
Lead by example
One impactful way employers can promote self-care is by providing inspiring role models. Leadership should set a positive example by prioritizing their own self-care and encouraging others to do the same. When leaders model healthy work habits, it reinforces the importance of self-care and creates a supportive culture within the organization.
Managers can reinforce the value of self-care by conducting regular check-ins with their employees to discuss workload, stress levels, and overall well-being. This provides an opportunity to receive feedback, address any concerns, and offer support or resources as needed.
Promoting self-care for your employees requires an investment, but is one that has been proven to pay dividends. Creating a culture of wellbeing not only benefits individual employees, but also contributes to improved morale, productivity, and overall organizational success.
By taking the time to develop a strategy that addresses your organization’s unique self-care needs and preferences, you better position yourself for success in today’s business landscape.
Lauren Winans is CEO and principal HR consultant for Next Level Benefits, an HR consulting practice offering clients access to HR professionals for both short-term and long-term projects.