More than ever before, managers are a vital link between the organisation and the employee, particularly with the shift to hybrid and work-from-home workplaces. There is pressure for managers to ensure their teams perform and, at the same time, employee mental health and wellbeing is taking centre stage. In keeping with their personal management style, managers are in a unique, hands-on position to support employee wellbeing while maintaining productivity.
“…managers are in a unique, hands-on position to support employee wellbeing while maintaining productivity.”
In the modern, employee-centric world of work, managers and supervisors should have the authority and flexibility to use the wealth of available organisational resources available, coupled with their own discretion, to create an environment and systems that support employee wellbeing.
Here are five practical strategies for managers to nurture employee wellbeing:
“Purposefully checking in with each of your team members on a regular basis is essential to their mental health in the workplace.”
Strategy 1: Make sure to communicate on your team’s ‘wavelength’
Purposefully checking in with each of your team members on a regular basis is essential to their mental health in the workplace. How can you communicate and share your expectations with your team in a way they individually feel heard and understood? The answer lies in taking the time to get to know what communication style best suits each of your team members. This allows you to find the right actions and words to motivate each person in the team. Such communication is facilitated by:
- having an open-door policy and to be open to honest feedback;
- making sure you communicate clearly about individual task responsibilities;
- recognising and rewarding good work and behaviour;
- doing fun things to boost morale;
- understanding your team’s diversity issues.
To enable honest feedback, other than through performance reviews, it is important to ask each of your employees direct questions. Without having meaningful two-way conversations, you risk wasting time and resources, not to mention, a possible drop in productivity should the emotional investment in their work plummet. In larger organisations, where there is typically a senior leader and several mid-level leaders who are responsible for smaller groups, it is important to train and empower middle management and the team leaders who report into you to communicate effectively with their teams.
“Without having meaningful two-way conversations, you risk wasting time and resources,”
Strategy 2: Monitor your own communication style
It is important to understand the influence you, as a manager, have over your team members’ frame of mind. This means understanding the implications of what you say, when you say it, and how you communicate. On a busy working day, it may seem most efficient to dash off an email when making a company announcement or team request, rather than, say, sharing the information in person or in more detail. This can backfire. Not taking the time to explain or provide sufficient detail can cause employees who are directly involved to become anxious. It can yield much greater longer-term, team-building dividends when you take the time, upfront, to communicate in more detail in a style that aligns with that of your team. Also, it is important to respect your team’s time. Before you nudge someone, weigh up if the issue can wait instead of interrupting or side-tracking your team.
“It is important to understand the influence you, as a manager, have over your team members’ frame of mind.”
Strategy 3: Recognise and celebrate your team
Employees feel appreciated when they are recognised for their hard work and achievements. Celebrating both big and small wins lets employees know their work is valued. Having a sense of accomplishment and sharing that with your team members bonds the group and benefits everyone.
Some reasons to celebrate are:
- Completion of a project
- Work anniversaries
- Achieving a team goal, such as reaching a sales target
- Receiving higher ratings from customers
- The first-time accomplishment for a newer employee
Ask yourself, when was the last time you thanked someone for their contribution? Did you give them accolades when you presented their findings in a company-wide or client-facing report? Here are five easy-to-implement ideas for recognising your team members:
- Cater lunch or host a party for the team
- Hand out gift cards for a local coffee or spa
- Create unique awards for each team member and schedule a mini-awards ceremony
- Offer a personal day off as an award or recognition
- Share employee or team achievements on your social media
Strategy 4: Formalise mental health initiatives
This is about proactively prioritising mental health within your team, especially when you know employees need or deserve it. Do not wait until burnout is imminent. Consider what you can prescribe for your team in order for them to regularly reset and refresh—because mental health and self-care should be a part of everyone’s reality – it is not a privilege.
“It is vital to be a role model. Remember that your employees look up to you and will do what you do…”
It is vital to be a role model. Remember that your employees look up to you and will do what you do, especially as they do want to be seen as taking advantage at work. Everyone is different in the way they like to recharge their battery, so it is helpful to brainstorm with employees about the self-care practices that would be most meaningful to them. Consider scheduling regular self-care routines as part of the working day that make everyone active in their self-care. For example, schedule a mandatory “happy hour” each week where team members take an hour exclusively for themselves and report back how they’ve spent that time.
Watch out for any employees that exhibit a sudden change in thinking, behaviour or performance. If you are worried about an employee who appears to be struggling, it’s important to set up a meeting that won’t intimidate them. If you have no idea where to start, consult your organisation’s Employee Assistance Programme service provider and ask them to guide you. When it comes to navigating personal problems and issues it is of enormous benefit to team members for an organisation to provide an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), offering free confidential clinical counselling to employees and their family members when they request it. It is important to regularly promote the services and confidentiality of your EAP to ensure that all employees are aware of this resource and their privacy in using it. Mandatory EAP counselling can be a useful management tool to prescribe when holding an employee accountable to improve on their productivity and output due to a personal issue they are overcoming.
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