Wellbeing is on the agenda for leaders
Last year a study by researchers at the University of Queensland established the importance of the role of leaders in helping employees to feel motivated and healthy. The impact on the success of an organisation of having a workforce who are productive and healthy should not be underestimated.
There has been a trend within organisations over the last few years towards recognising the value of paying attention to employee wellbeing rather than focusing on stress; such an approach is much more proactive and person-centred, engaging employees in a much more emotional sense so that their mind-set is more positive and their approach to work more likely to lead to higher standards.
The promotion of wellbeing in the workplace is also of benefit in attracting talent into the organisation with individuals now much more likely to choose an employer who cares for their work-life balance and wider wellbeing; one who acts responsibly towards employees.
It is interesting though that another study – undertaken by Right Management – reveals that 41% of organisations see employee wellbeing as a perk instead of a vital investment; a surprising take on the situation if we consider the cost to businesses of having unfit or unwell employees who are not productive.
What is often overlooked however, is that promoting well-being doesn’t have to cost heaps of money, with a lot being achievable through the behaviours and actions of leaders:
- Setting a climate of belonging: Setting a climate that promotes a feeling amongst employees of being part of a group, having a shared sense of purpose and identity within their work team goes a long way towards promoting wellbeing amongst employees and leads in turn to higher levels of engagement.
- Conveying the right mood: As a leader we need to be mindful of the signals we send to people through our communication, attitude, choice of words, body language etc. as all of these affect the mood and mind-set of individuals; whether they feel positive about their job and the organisation, feel that they matter and someone cares about them and whether or not they believe in their own abilities.
- Communicating effectively: Developing active listening skills enables leaders to empathise with employees, read their body language and understand what individuals are thinking and feeling. Knowing that you are being listened to and your needs are being considered helps people to feel valued and in turn increases their level of wellbeing.
- Being accessible: Lending an ear to employees who have concerns, ideas or opinions to share means that issues can be dealt with at an early stage rather than dragging on and impacting on wellbeing.
- Keeping an eye out for the signs: Every individual is just that, an individual, and as such the signs they show that they need support will differ across the team from a change in behaviour such as being late for work, a dip in performance standards or an increase in absenteeism. Being aware of and looking out for the signs allows the leader to sensitively address a situation and offer the most appropriate support to rebalance the individual’s wellbeing.