Prioritizing Your Employees Health and Well-being

Prioritizing Your Employees healthy Mind and Body
Image: | Prioritizing Your Employees Health and Well-being | When a crisis affects the workplace, as was the case when the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, it’s important for leaders to step up. This doesn’t just refer to directing a shift to a remote work model or maintaining target performance metrics throughout the chaos. It also consists of actively demonstrating a consistent concern for your employees’ health and safety.

Why Employee Health and Well-being Matter

Apart from the obvious fact that employees should be treated humanely simply because they’re, well, human, leaders should also consider the professional ramifications of ignoring employee well-being. For instance, 41% of workers report that stress leads to a loss in productivity. In addition, while stress has classically been seen as a motivator, studies have shown that working in stressful conditions is more heavily correlated with issues like tardiness, absenteeism, and high turnover rates.

If you’re a manager or a project leader who is guiding your team through the coronavirus chaos, it’s absolutely essential that you help your employees feel protected and cared for. Here are a few suggestions for various ways that you can do so, whether you’re leading your team on-site, remotely, or a hybrid of the two.

Make Sure Everyone Is Informed

Communication has always been one of the pillars of good leadership, and that tenet remains just as true for health and wellness as for anything else. With that said, it’s important to make sure that your employees are well informed as you go through trying times. For example, if you are shifting to or from a remote work model, it’s important that you ensure that all channels of communication are carefully understood and that the new format causes as little stress as possible.

Another aspect of communication includes making sure your employees have access to the unique information that they particularly need in an emergency. For instance, during a pandemic, this would include a thorough understanding of their health benefits. You can communicate this information directly, fill out a template outlining the information for your employee handbook, or even do both.

Don’t Ignore the Mundane in Favor of the Dramatic

As you reopen a physical workspace, it’s easy to overly focus on things like hand-sanitizer, bathroom sterilization, and social distancing policies. 

However, it’s also essential that you remember basic reopening procedures. For example, if you’ve been shut down for weeks or even months, make sure to have the workspace cleaned thoroughly to prevent dust, dirt, and mold from aggravating your employees’ breathing. Also, make sure to tend to minor-yet-important items such as flushing water lines before reopening the building

In other words, basic, mundane reopening procedures shouldn’t be ignored in the rush to implement new sanitary and social distancing measures.

Remember, Well-being Is Bigger Than Health

Well-being isn’t simply avoiding getting sick. In fact, the dictionary definition of the term literally reads as “the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous.” That involves much more than a clean bill of health from your doctor.

As you consider your employee’s health and wellness, it’s crucial that you take into account more than just their physical health. Reach out to employees to ensure that their mental and emotional health are also tended to throughout the crisis. Make sure that remote workers, in particular, are maintaining healthy work habits and aren’t atrophying in isolation.

Adopt a COACH Leadership Model

There’s a time and place to stay focused on company goals and organizational objectives. It’s also wise, however, to avoid a “cold and calculating” boss persona as you guide your team through a pandemic. 

Instead, strive to come across to your team as an invested leader who is looking out for their safety. You can accomplish this by adopting the COACH safety model:

  • Caring for your staff.
  • Observing their interactions and needs.
  • Analyzing your employee’s behaviors.
  • Communicating with your team.
  • Helping your workers when they need you.

This COACH model allows you to come across as a mentor and helper who is on their team rather than a stress-inducing authority who simply wants to milk them for all their worth.

Maintain Your Team’s Trust

Finally, it’s critical that you maintain your team’s trust throughout difficult times. Seth Godin said “Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.” He was right. 

If you can maintain the trust of your employees throughout their discomfort and fear, you can consequently retain their attention, loyalty, and participation as active members of your team.

Leading in Times of Trouble

Everyone is under increased pressure as the COVID-19 crisis slowly unfolds. However, as businesses ramp back up and employees return to a regular schedule — and often a physical office as well — it falls to leaders to be particularly invested in maintaining everyone’s safety and well-being.

From communicating clearly to thoroughly covering the reopening basics to adopting a COACH leadership model, there are many ways to go about showing your employees that you care. The most important thing of all, though, is maintaining that critical lifeline of trust as you encourage your team to stay united as you confront the challenges that you face together.