Employees’ mental and physical health continues to remain a priority for company decision makers. Just look at the growing push to stave off the possibility of burnout, which is being felt by 52% of employees, according to an Indeed survey. An overworked staff is a less productive one, leading to drops in productivity that can potentially stunt an organization’s growth prospects.
How can leaders confront these issues head-on? Investing in their employees’ well-being is an excellent place to start. Research by the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 58% of small businesses and 83% of large ones offer some kind of wellness program. And an additional study found that employer-sponsored health and wellness programs can boost productivity by up to 11%.
All of this illustrates that employees continue to value more than steady paychecks and cliché cultural perks like Ping-Pong tables and beer fridges. They want to know that their professional and personal health are both priorities. Here are three ways business leaders can improve employee well-being as we enter the new year:
1. Create an active office environment.
From cubicles to open floor plans, the traditional office layout we’ve grown so accustomed to continues to evolve. Now, it’s no longer enough to have every office tool and amenity at the ready — employees want to feel like they can be comfortable and active while on the job.
One report found that 87% of workers would like to work in an office that offers healthier workspace benefits like sit-stand desks and wellness rooms, so consider creating a space that encourages more movement. However, before buying new furniture and health gadgets, Ikaria Design Co. Founder and Chief Designer Pack Matthews suggests building a culture that will embrace a shift toward an active office space.
“Much has been written and studied about optimizing the bedroom and evening activities for the best night’s sleep,” Matthews says. “Over the past decade, the same rigor has been applied to the workplace. At Ikaria Design, we strive to apply design thinking to every challenge we choose to tackle. We’ve discovered that the choice of furniture matters little if you don’t also address less visible aspects of human factors — subtle, often invisible factors that often determine how much or how little people move throughout their day.”
2. Support mental and emotional well-being.
Two-thirds of employees have clinical levels of anxiety or depression, according to SilverCloud Health. Unresolved depression and anxiety can reduce employee productivity by 35%. Although the “rise and grind” culture has been traditionally encouraged by business leadership, it’s time that we shift our focus to supporting employees’ mental health.
As a team leader, it’s your job to open the mental health conversation. A great way to do this is by conducting periodic emotional health check-ins with your team. During these conversations, ask questions like “How are you feeling?” and “How can I help?” Check-ins reinforce trust and provide employees a space to discuss any stressors that could lead to burnout.
3. Create listening opportunities to receive feedback.
Many employees don’t feel comfortable speaking up in the workplace. According to Achievers Workforce Institute, women are 25% less likely than men to feel comfortable and valued when sharing a differing opinion. Providing employees with a forum to communicate openly improves workplace relationships and helps people perform better, evidenced by the 74% of employees reporting that they’re more effective at their job when they feel heard.
By creating listening opportunities for employee feedback, business leaders give everyone the chance to feel heard. It’s not enough to just listen to feedback. If you want to make your team feel genuinely valued, you must do something with the feedback you receive. Once you’ve made changes, communicate those changes to your team. When people see that companies actually implement input, they’ll be more likely to provide feedback in the future.
This year, show your employees that you value their well-being by creating a culture that puts employee health at the forefront. If you make this your company’s New Year’s resolution, you’ll create a happier and more productive workforce.