Self-care is arguably more important than ever before, especially with the pandemic causing stress levels to reach new heights. If you want your employees to be at their best, this means that you need to start encouraging employees to focus on their self-care. If you don’t, you will have a very stressed and burned out workforce who will turn to negative behaviours to cope.
Why the need for self-care?
People are suffering from stress and burnout and it doesn’t seem to be dissipating.
- A survey by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Harvard Medical School found that 55% of respondents said they were more stressed in May 2020 than they were in January.
- According to mental health charity, Mind, the Office for National Statistics revealed that depression rates doubled during the pandemic (in June 2020, 19.2% of adults experienced depression in that month alone compared to 9.7% of adults who experienced it between the period of July 2019 to March 2020).
- A Korn Ferry study revealed that 73% of American professionals were feeling burned-out and the top reasons cited were no separation between work and home and unmanageable workloads.
- Older research also commissioned by Mind found that 57% of the people surveyed drank alcohol after work to cope with stress. In addition to this, 28% said they smoked cigarettes, 16% took prescribed sleeping aids, and 15% took antidepressants.
As you can see from these statistics, employees are not coping with the constant stress and strain that has been the past 2 years; such a situation is unsustainable. To prevent it from getting worse and to nurture the health of both your employees and your business, you need to promote self-care and proper stress management techniques as part of your culture.
8 ways to encourage self-care
- Understand your employees’ needs – discuss self-care with your employees and ask them what they want or need. How can you help them create a better work-life balance? Which elements of their work do they love and what to do more of? Are they struggling with something that you can help them with (e.g. prioritising their work to reduce anxiety)?
- Make the effort to meet physically – where it’s safe to do so, meet up with your employees for a physical 1:2:1. A cup of coffee or a walking “meeting” can do wonders.
- Practice what you preach – whatever you are promoting as self-care, make sure you are leading by example! It could be properly switching off at the weekends, walking during your lunch break, meditating in the mornings, eating healthily or getting a good nights sleep for a few days in a row. Whatever you’re doing, schedule self-care into your calendar, share your efforts, encourage and motivate people to get involved and be their inspiration.
- Encourage them to write their to-do list the night before – writing lists helps reduce anxiety, so if this is done the night before, we can sleep better and wake up raring to go. Encourage your employees to do this. It not only helps with productivity but also facilitates better prioritisation and focus.
- Actively help individuals with time and stress management – a big source of stress for many workers is not having time to do everything they need to. As we all know, this is usually due to poor time management rather than not having the time in the first place! To help your employees work more effectively, give them the information and tools they need to succeed. (e.g. ever heard of The Pomodoro Technique?).
- Offer flexible hours and/or an outcome-based model – to facilitate a better work-life balance, give your employees the chance to create their own flexible schedules. If you do this and set clear goals and KPI’s for what they need to achieve, you will see an improvement in productivity and job satisfaction.
- Remind your employees to use their benefits – do you offer your team flexible working hours, discounted gym memberships, a study allowance or any health-related benefits? If there is something that could help them relax, develop and re-find their mojo, you need to motivate them to take advantage of these benefits. Even if it’s just taking the afternoon off to recharge!
- Always show your appreciation – acknowledging employees and their accomplishments and showing them how much you value what they do can seriously help with productivity and motivation. We all know how much of a difference it makes when someone gives us a job well done – it lifts our spirits and makes our week. Self-worth is a big factor when it comes to stress, anxiety and general mental health, so make sure to recognise your employees and their efforts as much as possible.
Your employees are your greatest asset!
Employees are the life force of your business. They are the foundation, the cogs in the machine, so you must take care of them. If you don’t, cracks will form! Start investing in self-care now and you’ll see that your team (and your business) will be far stronger and resilient in the long run.