By Nancy Owen, PHR, Senior HR Consultant, East Coast Risk Management
The last couple of years have been filled with unsettledness and uncertainty for employers and employees alike. Many organizations continue to experience a decrease in both engagement and productivity, while employee turnover remains high.
Employees are struggling and have an uneasiness about them. Many are showing signs of fatigue and stress. These challenges can lead to loss of productivity, at best. At worst, they can result in injury and illness, including mental health issues, which can devastate the employee and, ultimately, hurt your entire organization.
You may recognize some of these challenges now impacting workplaces across the country:
- Disagreements in the workplace are on the rise. Conversations among employees increasingly include deeply felt responses to serious issues including COVID, race discrimination, war, politics, and religion. These topics are creating friction among workers who are already stressed out.
- Businesses are experiencing an increase in harassment complaints against employees and supervisors. In some cases, the end result has been physical violence involving employees who have never shown signs of aggression or bad behavior in the past.
- Tough decisions have been made regarding spending reductions and changes to long-standing policies and procedures. Some of those decisions, especially those that were not clearly communicated, have left employees feeling insecure or even abandoned.
What to Look for in Your Employees
This is a good time to train leaders to spot red flags that may reveal an employee who is struggling. Here are some common signs:
- An unhealthy or unkempt appearance/abnormal appearance
- Mood swings, emotional rollercoasters, and erratic behavior
- Easily irritated, frustrated, or angered
- Taking or needing a lot of time off
- A decrease in or lack of productivity
How to Improve Employee Wellbeing
Employers have found many creative ways to improve their employees’ wellbeing, some at little to no additional expense. Consider implementing one of these initiatives:
- Converse with employees regularly. Because of the current state of employee wellbeing, it is essential to listen to employees. Have open conversations about their wellbeing. The more you know about their state of mind, the better equipped you’ll be to address their concerns.
- In response to their employees’ desires to be more physically active, one company started lunchtime walking clubs. Not only is this no cost to the employer, but it could be a great way to foster more physical activity and social connectedness.
- Some employees have said they feel lonely or isolated. Consider hosting a virtual trivia contest during lunch time or at the end of the workday.
- Adjust your paid time off policies to give employees a boost. AppDynamics gives its employees five paid volunteer days off every year which can help employee feel connected to a cause. Solstice, the consulting firm, has implemented “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (FBDO)” which is an extra PTO day allowing employees to “play hooky” together. The only rule? They must do something epic!
- Talk with your medical insurance broker to see if they offer opportunities that included mental health support or discounts for fitness.
- Take a good look at your company culture. Build and maintain a workplace culture that makes employees feel safe. Create a company that feels like a second home. When it’s well thought-out and effectively implemented, the right culture can lower incidences of employee burnout and increase engagement.
- Maintain transparency with your employees. Employees want more communication with leadership and clarity around how their job duties align with overall company goals. When employees feel out of the loop, studies show they trust managers and colleagues less, feel less company loyalty, and are less likely to stay. Studies have found that management transparency is directly linked to employee happiness. Leaders who practice transparency are seen as more trustworthy and more effective. A happy employee who knows the connection between their work and the organization will be more engaged, productive, and will be less interested in looking for another job.
Remember this: employee wellbeing is linked to employee engagement and productivity. Your organization becomes stronger across the board when you make your employees’ wellbeing a priority.
If you are an employer with questions about any safety, workers’ compensation, or human resources issue, contact East Coast Risk Management by calling 724-864-8745 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to help!
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