Thriving in the New Normal//

Small Ways Workplaces Are Prioritizing Employee Well-being

Cultivating teams that feel fulfilled, recharged, and valued is essential.

FreshSplash/ Getty Images
FreshSplash/ Getty Images

So much of the conversation around navigating the future of work focuses on things like physical safety and maintaining productivity, and those are vitally important factors. But as Thrive Global founder and CEO Arianna Huffington recently wrote, companies also need to focus on the human layer. That means helping employees prioritize their well-being, and supporting and nurturing their mental resilience so they can operate from a place of strength, even through all the change and unknowns.

We asked our Thrive community to share how their own workplaces are prioritizing employee well-being. Which of these initiatives resonates with you?

Instituting a “no meeting Wednesdays” rule

“Designating one ‘no meeting day’ for myself each week helped me focus better before COVID-19, and now, our company has instituted a company-wide ‘no meeting Wednesday’ rule. As the workforce has become overwhelmed with Zoom meetings, I find this rule crucial for our well-being. Plus, a happy employee is the seed to a happy workforce.”

—Div Manickam, marketing influencer, Raleigh, NC

Urging workers to take PTO

“Our company has always encouraged us to embrace flexible hours, vacation time, and remote work — but this pandemic has even stretched a team used to working from home. Our co-founders have been especially encouraging of our team to take time off when needed, even when we don’t have vacations or appointments. In the day-to-day, it can be hard to realize that we need time off, but our leaders are helping us to see how important time off is, even when we’re just staying home.”

—Jakub Rudnik, VP of content at Shortlister, Chicago, IL

Encouraging boundaries

“As someone who uses social media as her main tool professionally, my job can sometimes be an overwhelming experience. There is this unsaid notion that you’re expected to be on demand 24/7, and that people can reach you at any moment. One of the things that I have implemented is strong boundaries, and I feel that all workplaces should be urging employees to do the same. Communicating my working hours to my clients while honoring them myself is key. I turn off social media during family time and downtime to avoid any pinging and buzzing sounds from my phone. This keeps me focused and creates a clear distinction between work and family time. Creating clear boundaries is key for any workplace.”

—Dr. Izdihar Jamil, business coach and author, CA

Hosting virtual team meditations

“I recently started a new job that is completely remote and I was amazed to open my email the first day and see calendar invitations to 30-minute meditation sessions scheduled twice a week. I had wondered how I was going to really get to know my coworkers while working from home and this has been an amazing way to connect. One of the co-founders organizes it, so I don’t feel guilty pushing away from my screen and investing the time in this practice. I am so proud to work for a company that prioritizes our self-care.”

—Tara Bethell, HR leader, Phoenix, AZ

Making time for gratitude

“Now more than ever, there has been an emphasis on the need for us all to further support, connect and check in with our employees and co-workers. I feel that when it comes to company policy, this should start with gratitude. Every day before and after work, have your staff note down three things they are grateful for within their workplace. If this is a positive note celebrating another team member, encourage your staff to communicate this to that person via email on that day, so they can always have that positive moment to refer back to.”

—Rebecca Kingsford, CEO of Create Careers, Melbourne, Australia

Celebrating healthy habits

“I think it’s important for companies to encourage individual employees to set strategies that work best for them. I’ve been encouraging recent coaching clients to reflect on one thing that’s had the greatest positive impact on their well-being over the past few months and commit to taking this forward as a ‘non-negotiable,’ whether it’s continuing to exercise, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or simply scheduling short breaks between Zoom calls. It’s up to leaders and managers to encourage, support and coach their teams to stay committed to the well-being practices they’ve taken on.”

—Jamie Butler, executive coach and facilitator, Hampshire, UK

Identifying early signs of stress

“Our office has been providing technologies to facilitate and ease working remotely, offering a monthly wellness stipend team members can use to pay for a wellness activity of their choosing, and rewarding those who are working particularly hard with raises, bonuses, and extra time off. And aside from the tech support, of course, the best way I know of to keep my colleagues happy and healthy is to check in with them often, especially if I sense stress.”

—Elise Buie, Esq., family law, Seattle, WA

Being mindful of employee workload

“I feel that there should be adequate regulation and control of the workload of individual workers to avoid unnecessary stress. When workers are overloaded for whatever reasons, whether it’s from a pressure to meet deadlines or a shortage of manpower, they feel mentally, emotionally and psychologically abused. This can further degenerate into burnout. Employers should be mindful of each employees’ workload and make necessary changes if someone feels overwhelmed.”

—Andrew Ikeogwu, Doha, QA

How do you think workplaces can start prioritizing well-being? Share with us your thoughts in the comments!

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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