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As workplace structure rapidly shifts to a hybrid work model, companies are looking to adapt their strategies around cultivating an employee-centric culture. Employee needs are evolving as a result of increased work-from-home burnout, less in-person face-time, and more distributed work. So how can organizations pivot their employee well-being initiatives to account for the differences in this new world of work? We’ve put together our top 5 tips for boosting and optimizing your organization’s focus on employee well-being.
Create a culture of recognition
Making employees feel valued is a crucial aspect of maintaining and improving employee retention, with “feeling undervalued” being one of the top reasons that employees choose to leave jobs. Remote employees struggle with this especially due to missing out on face-time, impromptu conversations, and bonding experiences from which on-site employees benefit.
One way to remedy this is by creating a culture of recognition and praise. One way to do so is by implementing a gratitude initiative that encourages employees to call out their peers for good work — for example, for collaborating effectively, for going above and beyond, or for rising up to a challenge. Having a more formalized program that reminds employees to give kudos to each other will create a culture of recognition, resulting in a positive work environment. In addition to this, encourage managers to frequently give feedback to employees on their performance, highlighting achievements where appropriate.
Highlight the importance of wellness
It’s an especially challenging time for all, and wellness is an important part of combatting the day-to-day stresses we face. Prioritizing wellness can boost mood, energy, and productivity. Show employees that you care about their well-being by underlining the importance of wellness and giving them opportunities to prioritize their mental and physical health. For example, you can offer virtual “wellness sessions” to give your employees an explicit opportunity amid their busy schedules to focus on themselves. Hire a remote yoga instructor, meditation guide, or fitness instructor to lead a class that leaves your employees feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Another tactic is to hold company-wide “fitness challenges”, such as a 30-day push-up challenge or a challenge to hit a certain number of daily steps; this is a fun way to engage employees, as the competitive aspect will help encourage participation.
As a perk, you can also offer your team a wellness budget, either one-time or monthly. This could be sessions with a nutritionist, exercise equipment, a standing desk — whatever they need to stay healthy. Doing so will demonstrate to your employees that you are invested in their well-being.
Finally, don’t neglect the importance of mental health. Those struggling with mental health can have significant trouble engaging at work and can be scared to get help, fearing that the topic of mental health is too taboo. Underscore that you recognize the mental health challenges that employees may be facing, and let them know that their mental well-being comes first. Share solutions for counseling treatment options offered by your company’s insurance provider to let employees know that should they need help, it’s available to them.
The nature of distributed work can leave us feeling disconnected from our peers. This is especially true in the case of new hires who have onboarded virtually. A lack of connection can have significant consequences for organizations, as research has consistently proven a strong correlation between feeling connected to others at work and being engaged and productive. Facilitate connections amongst employees by creating opportunities and arenas for non-work-related conversations. For example, you can set up virtual “coffee chats” that connect two employees from different parts of the organization. This tactic is helpful when trying to introduce new employees to the existing team. You can even organize larger coffee chats with multiple employees using Zoom’s “breakout room” feature, which connects a handful of participants in a call at random.
Additionally, you may opt to create non-work-related Slack channels that allow employees to bond over shared interests and hobbies, such as music-focused or cooking-focused channels in which employees can share their favorite songs or recipes.
Permit flexible work hours
With the ever-changing demands of daily life, offering your employees flexibility in their work hours will go a long way in improving their quality of life and productivity. Obligations related to family or the home often crop up during the workday, and preventing employees from tending to these obligations within the hours of 9-5 can be a major source of stress. By letting your employees work flexible hours (outside of meetings and other scheduled commitments, of course), you show them two things: 1) that you prioritize not just their work-related happiness, but their overall well-being and 2) that you trust them enough to give them the freedom to fix their own schedules while still getting good work done in a timely manner. This tactic won’t help with just wellness, but with overall engagement at the company.
Prioritize personal development and career pathing
Employees want to feel like their workplaces offer them the ability to grow in their careers — nobody wants to feel that they’re stagnating! Many remote workers struggle with stagnation since they can often get left out of opportunities due to decreased visibility into their roles and performance. With distributed work, it’s important to equalize the playing field so all employees are getting the opportunity for personal and professional development. Implement a review process that takes place semi-annually and that allows them to advocate for themselves and voice how they’d like to progress in their roles and careers. Additionally, offer learning opportunities for employees throughout the year. This could be offering a list of available online courses to help teach employees new skills, implementing a formalized mentorship program that pairs experienced professionals with more junior employees, or offering a learning and development budget for employees to allocate towards courses, books, and more.
By focusing on the tactics outlined here, you’ll be able to forge a culture that prioritizes your employees’ needs in today’s world, increasing employee satisfaction, engagement, and productivity.