As the end of the year approaches, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season will soon be in the rearview mirror.
Employers are gearing up to go full speed ahead into a new quarter but, before diving right in, they should take an exhaustive inventory of their workplace needs, making sure not to overlook any crucial elements. In particular, given the events of the last nearly two years, all organizations looking to start 2022 off on the right foot should give particular attention to one often-overlooked area of people management: wellbeing.
Wellbeing in Focus
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on employees’ wellbeing. According to a study from the Business Group of Health this summer, less than half of American employees reported that their wellbeing was in a good place. It’s a startling statistic—but one that isn’t all that surprising.
As the global health crisis unfolded, all facets of employees’ daily lives were immediately interrupted: They had to learn new working from home protocols, many took on additional childcare responsibilities, they were forced to balance work and life in new ways with disruptions from partners, kids, roommates and even pets. These conditions were exacerbated by the unknowns and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic itself, setting up the American workforce for a true wellbeing crisis.
The Employer Role
Like never before, employers are recognizing the role they can play in helping their workers navigate this unprecedented time. Another Business Group on Health report this year found that more than 90% of employers surveyed expanded their wellbeing offerings in 2021. Almost three-quarters invested more in programs to provide employees better work/life balance, and more than 80% rolled out initiatives to help employees focus on financial wellness—and, in turn, mental wellbeing.
Even if these programs are already in place heading into 2022, employers can still do a refresh to ensure employee wellbeing doesn’t fall through the cracks as the new year gets underway. One particular avenue is through manager training. Managers are often the key to carrying out workplace culture so, if yours is one that prioritizes employee wellbeing, your leaders need to know how to carry that message through to their everyday work.
Managers should be equipped to spot red flags for potential wellbeing issues: when employees are taking excessive time off, suddenly not as productive, lacking their usual innovation or creativity, or withdrawing from team settings, for instance. Employees need to trust that they can confide in their managers and even their teams when they are feeling stressed or burnt out; however, managers should also be proactive in conveying support, as workers may not always feel comfortable seeking help. Encouraging employees to take time off, modeling how to practice healthy habits for work/life balance and sharing personal stories of wellbeing challenges and successes can all show employees that their company values their wellbeing.
As employee mental health remains a vital challenge for all HR and business leaders, now is the ideal opportunity to take stock of your company’s wellbeing strategy and ensure it is primed for 2022. With a comprehensive plan in place that centers your culture and drives employees to both be and do their best, your entire company can head into the new year refreshed and ready for success.