The past few years in business have been HARD. It’s been a long time since “business as usual” was a thing, and the mandates, face masks, isolation and constant talk of Covid have really been at the forefront of how we live. We’re all weary. The upheaval from Covid has been massive, not just on businesses but on people personally. Late last year I spoke to Robin and Leonie from Workplace Wellness about how we can look after ourselves and our teams in these trying times – you might find help in their following advice which covers resilience, how to recognise burnout and why you need to start having meaningful conversations with your employees…
How to tell when you’re in a bad patch (possibly at burnout point) and need help… Sometimes you don’t recognise it until you’re quite far down the track so signs to look for:
- Compassion fatigue, when you just feel like you’re over everything and you’d rather tell people to just go away
- Feeling emotionally exhausted. You just want to stay in bed and pull the duvet up
- When feeling down or “over it” is out of character for you and goes beyond one day
- Getting quite cynical when you’re usually not
- Feeling isolated
- Health issues, like headaches, not sleeping, stomach issues, which aren’t related to another illness
If the signs above disappear when you have a week off work on holiday, you can be pretty sure they’re due to stress and burnout.
Manage your own health while looking after everyone else’s.
Put your own oxygen mask on first — which is often easier said than done. Most business owners tend to look out for their team more than themselves; if this is the case, then force yourself to lead by example to give yourself some more healthy boundaries. Don’t be the boss sending out an email at 10pm. Be the change you want to see, so you can encourage that behaviour from others, in turn helping you to improve your own wellbeing.
The #1 thing to implement in your business to address wellbeing? Meaningful conversations.
People want to be heard; they want to have their voice. It’s important you get below the waterline and talk to them about what’s really going on below the surface. You can do this in a non-threatening way by checking in during a casual conversation — ask them: “You don’t seem yourself, what’s going on?” Reach out and probe. Let the conversation flow and evolve from there. Dig deeper.
How far do you need to go in helping an employee vs it being an over-reach?
Under health & safety legislation, your employee’s wellbeing is your responsibility. That doesn’t mean that it’s for you to fix but if you recognise something’s going on, then you need to guide, coach, and support them to find the help they need. Help them access EAP services if possible. Know your limits around how much you can do for them, but also don’t put your head in the sand.
Recognise when you actually NEED to step in and react:
Follow your gut instinct — you should act when you recognise their behaviour is really out of line for that person, when their safety is in danger, or that of others.
Resilience is about our ability to be able to manage the stress that’s going on in our lives, adapting to it and handling it. Resilience isn’t about toughening up or taking a concrete pill — it’s about having the right tools in your backpack so when you do hit a rock in the road you can handle it and navigate it. Being resilient means you’re better equipped to handle tough times. Resilience can go up and down – it’s like a muscle so you need to practice to stay strong in it. The Covid environment is really testing resilience.
There are various things to keep in balance for better personal resilience:
- Living authentically. Knowing and holding on to your personal values, which might be getting tested at the moment
- Playing to your strengths, individually and as a team, rather than focusing on your weaknesses
- Having a good level of emotional regulation and knowing when things are getting out of whack
- Finding your calling, getting your sense of purpose, having a job that is a good fit for these
- Maintaining perspective. Avoiding bad thinking traps, being more solutions focused, managing negativity
- Mastering stress — through physical health, sleeping well, looking at boundaries
- Interacting cooperatively. Being open to feedback
- Staying healthy — being active, sleeping well, having a good diet
- Building networks. Most of us have good professional networks but who’s in your private camp that you can pick the phone up to have a good safe conversation with?
Thoughts around implementing Wellness Days or Duvet Days:
These are additional to sick pay and generally are a company’s way of encouraging mental health days. People occasionally do need a day off and calling in a Wellness Day is more upfront than ringing in a sickie. Implementing them is good for employer of choice, as part of strategy for recruitment of good talent, because it’s a signal that you care about your people.
How to avoid your company wellness programme being a fail…
These need to be the result of a strategy and a plan, not a knee-jerk reaction. What’s your big picture? How is your programme linked to your business goals? How’s it linked to your organisation? If you need a starting point, give your employees the tools to cope with stress.
Engagement is more important than participation so you need to ensure it’s the right programme for your team from the start, to ensure you get staff buy-in. Research says $2.30-$15 ROI on a good wellness strategy — IF you get it right.
Don’t be scattergun with your approach ie Movement Monday, Fruit Bowl Friday. Instead, get feedback from our people on what they want. For a better chance of success, make sure you have in-house capability to lead it for you, make sure you have the buy-in from your C-suite, and set up a committee made up of the troops on the ground who are the eyes and ears of the business.
What to include in your wellness programme:
When doing a wellness strategy, ask your team what they need — what they want to learn more about or have the tools to help. Involve your team; find out what keeps them awake at night. Mix it in with the health and safety when you work your strategy. Look below the waterline at what the risks are — what are causing your lost time injuries, ACC claims, sick days?
Come up with, say, four themes for the year which are important to your team.
For example, for construction crews it might be: ‘How to be healthy without eating rabbit food’ or ‘Don’t be tired on the tools’. Use their lingo.
The more you talk to your team, the more you understand; the more you understand, the better chance you have of getting it right.
How do you deal with the piss-takers, who take the mickey with extra time off, wanting extra attention and energy?
Start with conversation: “What else could be happening with this person?” before you go into performance management. Sometimes it might be that they are dealing with stuff behind the scenes, illness, or even not feeling like the job is a good fit for them. This allows you to figure out why they’re not happy and from there you can respond.