10 Ways to Encourage Employees to Focus on Self-Care

March 24, 2021
Kelly Lowe

The term ‘self-care’ is cropping up with increasing frequency, and for good reason. Employees are feeling stressed, and many are turning to negative behaviours to cope.

Encouraging employees to focus on their mental health and self-care is arguably more important than ever before. 

Thankfully, this is not one of those things we can describe as “easier said than done.” In this article, we’ll explore 10 ways you can encourage your workers to focus on self-care.

The Stress Stats

People are suffering from stress and burnout, and no good will come from ignoring that fact. There’s no getting away from it. A survey by researchers from 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. Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic was largely to blame for their increase in stress. Of the 7,000 American professionals surveyed by Korn Ferry, 73% said they felt burned out. 

The situation across the pond wasn’t much better. 

According to United Kingdom-based mental health charity, Mind, the Office for National Statistics revealed that depression rates doubled during the pandemic. 84.9% of adults surveyed said feelings of stress and anxiety affected their sense of wellbeing. In June 2020, 19.2% of adults experienced depression, which was almost double the 9.7% of adults who experienced it between July 2019 and March 2020. 

Older research commissioned by Mind found that 34% of people said their work lives were 'quite or very stressful'. 7% of people suffering from workplace stress experienced suicidal thoughts, and 18% developed anxiety. Just as alarming as those figures, were the findings that 57% of respondents said they drank alcohol after work to cope with stress, while 28% said they smoked cigarettes, 16% took over-the-counter sleeping aids, 15% took antidepressants, and 10% took prescribed sleeping tablets.

It should go without saying that such a situation is unsustainable. 

To make a difference in the workplace, use the following 10 ways to encourage employees to focus on self-care.

1. Understand Employees’ Needs

Speaking to Forbes magazine, Dr. Teresa Ray, PCC, said that HR and management shouldn’t assume they know what employees want or need when it comes to self-care. Instead, companies should engage workers to find out about their understanding of self-care, how to achieve a greater balance between work and their personal lives, and what it is about their work that they find rewarding. 

When you know what your employees need and want, you can plan the best way to actualize those things.

2. Have Occasional Walking Meetings

When possible, have walking meetings instead of sitting ones. Walking and talking with colleagues offers fresh air, exercise, and shorter meeting times. Just bear in mind that walking meetings are better suited to one-on-one or small group meetings.

3. Lead By Healthy Example

Employees are more likely to respond to encouragement concerning self-care if they can see that their managers or company leaders embody the message too. If the benefits of self-care are evident in your life, and you share tips, motivate, and provide an inspiring example, they’re more likely to take you seriously. 

Cynthia Howard, RN, CNC, PhD, told Forbes that the leaders who are most effective at transforming their employees, are those who model the behaviour they hope to see in their workers.

4. Create A Daily Task List

Encourage employees to write a task list for the following day every evening. When they’ve written down all the tasks they need to perform, they can prioritise the items on the list. Doing this can make even seemingly urgent days more manageable. The trick is to be realistic when making the list.

5. Prioritise Ergonomics In The Office

The office or other company environments where your employees work should support good ergonomics. Reduce noise disturbances where possible, ensure workspaces have sufficient lighting, and make use of chairs that help workers maintain good posture.

6. Provide Healthier Company-Sponsored Meals

In many workplaces, company-sponsored meals tend to focus on unhealthy foods such as doughnuts, cake, pizza, pastries, and fried food. Encourage employees towards the direction of self-care by swapping out some of the junk for healthier options such as salads, grilled meat-free dishes, and fresh fruit. When you’re offering healthy food, you can encourage healthy eating.

7. Motivate Employees To Use Their Benefits

The benefits you offer to your employees should include those that support their health and wellbeing. However, merely offering benefits might not be enough—you should also motivate your workers to take full advantage of those benefits, whether they’re discounted gym memberships, massage vouchers, yoga sessions, free medical screenings, or online counseling sessions. 

If you don’t offer many or any health-related benefits, it’s time to reconsider that stance. The best PEO companies can help you offer better benefits than you might be able to do on your own. PEOs have a bigger network of providers to draw from, and can negotiate better deals with carriers. This allows you to offer improved benefits that promote wellbeing and self-care at every level. 

8. Offer Courses On Managing Stress and Time

One of the reasons stress negatively affects some employees is because they don’t know how to manage it. Ineffective time management can be a contributing factor. Empower your workers to greater self-care by offering courses that provide them with the information and tools they need to better manage their time as well as stress.

9. Offer Flexi Hours/Create Flexible Schedules

The model of employees working fixed hours for employers who are inflexible is crumbling. When it comes to their careers, most employees want a sense of ownership, as well as the knowledge that their employers can empathize when they face emergencies. They also want a greater balance between life and work. 

Offering flexi hours or flexible schedules with clearly defined goals can go a long way to supporting your employees’ self-care.

10. Acknowledge Employees and Their Accomplishments

According to Harvard Medical School, a study showed that employees who felt appreciated at work were 50% more productive than those who didn’t. 

By acknowledging your employees’ efforts and accomplishments, you’re letting them know you appreciate and value their contribution. Lift their spirits by letting them know that their work hasn’t  gone unnoticed. In doing so, you can encourage them to greater self-care by helping them believe that they’re worth it.

By investing in your employees' self-care, you’ll be investing in your business. Happy, healthy employees are a true asset, and one you should nurture. 

Guest Author: Kelly Lowe

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