As employers, we understandably want to get the best out of our employees. We invest considerable time and effort into hiring and training, and we try to identify the right person for each role when considering candidates. We look for certain skill sets and levels of experience, but in the end, we’re not hiring just skill sets and experience, we are hiring people—and people have certain fundamental needs that extend beyond getting a job and bringing home a paycheck.
Your employees want to feel safe in their work environment. They desire the best tools for getting the job done. They want challenges and opportunities to grow in their career. They want a sense of purpose and passion. Henri Fayol stressed this idea in his Principles of Management, and its successful application has been well documented by today’s leading organizational psychologists. And when someone has made a commitment of more than 60% of their day—at least 40% of their life—to their job, they naturally long to fit in with their company’s culture. In short, they want to have a sense of well-being in their position, a sense of familiarity and comfort. As an employer, you have an obligation to do your best to enhance the workplace well-being of those you have hired, but doing so is also beneficial for you. Quite simply, people who feel good about the work they are doing will do a better job of it. By genuinely investing in your employees’ well-being, you can transform their lives by creating happiness and empowering them to both achieve their full potential and create the most value for your organization. It’s truly win-win.
Tchiki Davis, Ph.D., founder of The Berkeley Well-Being Institute, defines workplace well-being as “the ability to pursue your interests, values, and purpose in order to gain meaning, happiness and enrichment professionally.” Everyone wants to feel appreciated for the work they do. When employees apply their minds in the performance of their job, the results can be fruitful, but when their hearts are engaged as well, the work transcends the construct of the monetary exchange, providing a roadmap to happiness and purpose.
Broadly, well-being comes in five forms:
Although a company’s leaders cannot be expected to be wholly responsible for all elements of their team members’ well-being, they should be aware of these five areas so that they can recognize when someone who reports to them might be struggling, and then act accordingly to support that individual. As an author and organizational consultant Simon Sinek has asserted,
“Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”
Since employees typically spend a significant amount of time at work, they must feel a sense of purpose there if your goal is to achieve your organization’s full potential. Wise employers look to hire individuals who not only possess the skills and talent they seek but whose values and interests also align with the company’s mission. When such a match is achieved, the likelihood is greater that the employee will experience job satisfaction—and this in turn leads to that desired sense of well-being. This is only possible when a company has a collaborative and open culture, one in which the opinions, potential, and needs of each individual are valued.
Enhancing people’s well-being is, of course, is a complex process. For some employees, well-being requires having a sense of purpose, though how this is defined can vary significantly from one individual to the next. For others, it can be a matter of using their skills well which is enhanced with due recognition from the employer’s side. For example, two people may have the same skill set and job, but if the results of their efforts are not recognized appropriately, their level of well-being will differ, which will detract from, rather than contribute to, the creation of an intrinsic community within the company.
So, what must employers do to support their employees’ well-being?
1. Forge a Personal Connection
Invest the time necessary to build relationships with your employees, earn their trust, and understand what truly drives them. Depending on your work environment, this could begin during a coffee break or at a company social event and continue through scheduled interactions on the phone or in person.
2. Provide, Aid, and Listen!
Ensure that each employee has the tools they need to perform at their highest level. Stay abreast of the latest developments in your industry in terms of procuring the best tools and technology for the operations. Actively seek feedback and listen to your employees when they suggest ways to improve a product or process.
3. Generate and Motivate
Offer consistent incentives for those who perform well. Generation of perks and incentives are known to motivate all streams of employees.
4. Encourage Growth and Advancement
A sense of professional fulfillment may involve sending team members to off-site events, bringing in experts to share new knowledge, and offering opportunities for unique training or character development.
5. Communicate Clearly
The fastest way to disrupt a business is through miscommunication. Miscommunication has cost global businesses billions of dollars in lost revenue, and measuring this opportunity cost is almost impossible. Since there are no strict rules to communication, experimentation is a must!
6. Remove Disruptions
Minimizing disruptive activities is important. According to the New York Times, American workers believe that only 35% of their work time each day is actually productive. The unproductive balance is spent in time-wasting meetings, dealing with unexpected interruptions, and following up on unclear or unnecessary communications. While aiming to remove disruptions, feedback becomes a very important tool. For example – A feedback mechanism on how productive employees felt after a workshop can be attained; If they suggest that the same idea could have been communicated through a brief meeting and view the workshop as unnecessary protocol, then. it should be avoided.
7. Cultivate a Positive Environment
All the national coverage of incidents of workplace harassment demonstrate the value of creating a positive working environment. Strive to create a culture in which the emphasis for decisions makers is not on always being right but rather on always doing the right thing.
8. Be Generous with Praise
Demonstrate appreciation often—to individuals, teams, divisions, and the company as a whole. Business author Sharon Lechter explains the advantage of this well by saying, “A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.” It adds to the feel-good factor!
9. Foster Connections
Provide opportunities for your employees to socialize with one another and develop personal relationships. Consider, for example, company-sponsored attendance at a local sporting or cultural event, volunteering as a group in the community, or gathering to recognize team success and celebrate progress. These kinds of interactions help build a sense of community wherein new friendships and connections are established.
10. Promote Physical Wellness
Go the extra mile and offer wellness opportunities in or through the workplace. This can be as simple as encouraging your employees to take a walk during breaks throughout the day. Other options include providing mini exercise classes during lunchtime, quiet rooms, healthy diet information, free or reduced cost gym memberships, reimbursement for health-related purchases, and if applicable, healthy food options in vending machines and cafeterias.
When employers engage genuinely with their team members beyond the context of the job, a sense of family is created that inspires employees to contribute more to the company. They also tend to stay and grow with the company, thus reducing turnover. One must never forget the base rule of management: It is a task of dealing with people, their minds. These minds are what power the company’s engine, which in turn bring the company’s collective dreams to fruition!
The way a company deals with its employees is very reflective of its own workplace ecosystem and professional ideologies. If you ensure that your employees are happy and heard—that they have a strong sense of belonging, respect and motivation which would all comprise their workplace well-being—they will create a pool of productive effort and positive energy that will drive win-win progress for the company at large and for every individual within in!