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5 ways to ensure a culture of wellbeing in the workplace

young woman smiling at camera with laptop

In a shift that was prompted and/or accelerated by the pandemic—and subsequently enhanced by factors such as war and political and economic instability—the reasons why someone works, and whom they choose to work for, has seen a significant shift over the past few years. It is no longer enough to stay in a job simply because it pays well; for a lot of people, if the job lacks meaning, doesn’t seem aimed towards some greater good, and negatively affects their wellbeing, they will look for new employment.

As a business owner, it’s thus crucial that you not only acknowledge this shift in employee values, you must react to it, otherwise you risk losing team members to other companies who prioritise balance wellbeing and purpose.

Here are five things you should do to foster an environment of wellbeing within your business…

1. Regular one-to-one chats

Taking the time to have a coffee with each employee is an amazing way to make them feel valued and to show your concern for their wellbeing. Don’t do this in the office, but rather arrange to meet them in a nearby coffee shop as this will change the dynamic of the conversation. Ask them how they’re getting on at work and, if appropriate, what’s happening in their personal life.

If you have a small team, regular one-to-one meetings will obviously be easier, but even if you have a larger workforce, make it clear that your door is always open to discuss ANY issues. Also, remain observant—if you notice one of your team members seems distant, ask them if they’re okay and let them know you’re there to help if needed.

2. Lead by example

It’s no good telling your employees that you value their wellbeing if you’re not putting any effort into your own. Your team will often take your behaviour as the benchmark, so if you’re constantly on it, stressed out and making unreasonable demands, they will feed off this.

Make an example of yourself by taking breaks—including regular holidays—eating healthily, exercising and, probably most important of all, being open about your own struggles. There are of course occasions when you need to take the helm and remain calm in the face of chaos, but there is also nothing wrong with admitting when you’re stressed or that something in your personal life is affecting you.

An attitude like this will create a more open and honest environment.

two women having coffee in a park
Meeting for a one-to-one outside the office is a great way to encourage open conversation.

3. Encourage personal growth

A major cause of poor mental health and a loss of motivation is the feeling that your job is not really going anywhere. As an employer, you should encourage every member of your team to learn new skills, and make it known that you’re happy to fund this development, whether it be through online courses or attending workshops. Giving new responsibilities to an employee is also a wonderful way of showing you trust and value their input.

4. Offer mental health training and support

As a business owner, you can’t always be fully entrenched in what’s happening with your employees. This is particularly true if you’re running a larger enterprise.

It’s thus important that you provide mental health training for your managers, so that they can recognise when someone is struggling and understand what actions to take to address the issue. Naturally, you should commit to mental health training too, so that you know how best to deal with your managers’ feedback.

If possible, you should also provide mental health support by either including it in your standard benefits, or offering to pay or supplement any therapy an employee may require.

5. Make wellbeing a collaborative process

As a leader, it’s great if you have your own ideas about how to implement workplace wellbeing, but what about the team members themselves?

Ask for their honest input on the current measures in place, whether they’re working or not, and what measures they’d like to see in future. Explore some of the common issues that the team as a whole are experiencing, what motivates them and what could be done to increase motivation and a greater sense of purpose.

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