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How I Put the Well-Being of My Team First as a Leader

It's more important now than ever to address the more nuanced but crucially important issues related to the mental and emotional wellbeing of employees

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, our leadership team at Jackman has been dedicated to having active and ongoing discussions around what we can do from a business perspective to prioritize the well-being of our employees. To address increasing levels of job-related stress, we are examining our organization’s staffing levels, workload, etc.

These discussions are helping with some functional areas, but what we are also realizing is that it’s not just workload that is affecting wellbeing – it’s the mental strain of “Groundhog Day” and feeling like there’s nothing to look forward to, juggling family priorities or even feelings of loneliness and isolation. In an effort to address these more nuanced but crucially important issues related to the mental and emotional wellbeing of employees, I am prioritizing one-on-one time with individuals who may need more coaching, or simply need time to talk things through.

Small moments of connection are what lend the workplace its humanity, and without them we are all struggling to find ways to feel connected to one another.

Taking time to connect with employees is more crucial now than ever before, when we don’t have the ability to share casual small talk in the office café or make time for informal lunches that are completely unrelated to work, or even just sharing a smile and friendly hello as we pass in the hallways. Those small moments of connection are what lend the workplace its humanity, and without them we are all struggling to find ways to feel connected to one another. I’m trying to address this need for connection by prioritizing time that isn’t work focused. For example, my first team meeting of 2021 was not about what’s ahead from a work perspective but sharing our personal goals, what we each wanted to work on – and it turned into a great discussion full of support for one another. One of my team members afterwards said it felt like talking together in person “like the old days.”

Just last week I hosted a “My Life in Lockdown” session – an open discussion on hacks, how we are coping with challenges so that we can share and learn from what’s working for those around us. This session has led to a monthly wellness session with a different focus monthly – our next one will be on diet and nutrition with a registered dietitian.

I personally have also recognized that some days I’m just not at my best. On those days, rather than beating myself up, I need to adjust my own expectations – either save some tasks for another day, refocus my energy or just get out for a brisk walk to shake off the tension. As leaders, we tend to want to operate at 100% all of the time, but it’s simply not realistic. I need to be self-aware on those off days, so I don’t perpetuate an expectation of being always on – we’re all human and that’s ok. It’s essential that we give ourselves time to regroup when needed. 

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