Nurse smiles for camera in elevated walkway

Improving Workforce Morale: Promoting Wellness

Rachel Stewart Johnson

Psychologist | Driven by communications about human behavior in Work

Traitify explores the principles around which the new age of Employee Experience will take shape, continuing with an in-depth look at wellness.

With attention diverted to the economic slowdown, organizations may be tempted to let People Operations drop off in favor of needs that seem more urgent. Before falling into this approach, take a step back. An important function of People Operations is to embolden an organization to withstand challenges. Normally we think of those challenges as high seasonal turnover, toxic employees, litigation, and the like. Certainly the economic and societal turmoil of spring 2020 is historic and unprecedented. But as this challenge builds, organizations should reaffirm their commitment to People Ops. Employees are in need of workplace initiatives to help them focus, communicate, and thrive right now. These investments also ensure that an organization will emerge from this period ready to hit the ground running.

A first step: looking back at Employee Engagement

The principles of employee engagement that emerged through the 2010s are worth considering with fresh eyes. Here are a few examples.

Team Orientation

Human resources organization SHRM discussed the value of having a team orientation rather than being focused on self. Disengaged workers, they explain, tend to “foxhole” themselves and don’t prioritize collaborative energy. Team-building is therefore especially important for both work-from-home arrangements and workplaces altered with social distancing.

  • Emphasize language like “We’re all in this together,” and “Together apart.”
  • Create a buddy system in which partners communicate via text or another app. The emphasis should be on daily functioning and moods, not work.
  • Schedule virtual meetings like a “Friday Happy Hour” with only a social purpose, preferably with an interface that allows everyone to be seen at the same time.
  • Promote online community building when employees have time at home. Examples could be a trivia game, an exercise or cooking challenge, or making short videos.

Learning

Engaged employees take the opportunity to learn on the job. Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison and others discuss the “70-20-10” rule of gaining insights in a job. According to this framework, 70% of learning comes from the job itself, such as taking on a new task or being exposed to new technologies. Next is the 20% of learning that’s gained from interacting with, observing, and being taught by coworkers. Just the final 10% comes from formal training and coursework. Therefore, taking steps to cultivate a culture of learning is as important as ever when employees are separated from each other.

  • Ask employees at all levels for their feedback on “lessons learned” during the first weeks of the economic downturn.
  • Allow interested staff members to discuss their ideas for the company. Topics could include equipment, software, cost-savings measures or more effective enforcement of social distancing among customers or workers.
  • Set a virtual brainstorm session to discuss workplace efficiencies and safety or new business development directions.
  • Have employees take a personality assessment as a starting point for self-discovery for themselves and coworkers.

 

Therapy and a daily exercise at the same time

A next step: cultivate coping

Insights from research in psychology help us understand how to be proactive in promoting mental health during periods of crisis. The American Psychological Association suggests simple measures to promote wellness, like keeping up daily routines, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and exercise, and limiting news consumption.

In addition, a recent review of research by The Lancet explored the effect of quarantine on mental health. This work identified adverse effects that employers can take steps to address.

  • Increase transparency. Individuals in quarantine were stressed by an absence of information. While you can’t speak for federal and local officials on public health policy, you can keep your employees well informed of company plans, cash reserves, and future staffing changes.
  • Provide supplies for work and home. Among quarantine’s ill effects was a lack of access to basic supplies -- a source of frustration and anger that persisted for months post-quarantine. Consider helping employees meet material needs at home. Provide paper products, sanitizer, and soap for home use if you can. If employees are now working from home, ensure that they have the laptops, monitors, and internet speed that they need. Small gestures can go a long way. Even something like gifting workers with a fresh pack of chargers for their devices shows you appreciate their changed circumstances and care about their wellbeing.

In all, the workplace should be a source of wellness for individuals, an important reality made more urgent by current events. There are several steps employers can take to enhance that wellness in direct and indirect ways. These measures, often requiring little use of resources, can lay the groundwork for a successful rebound as the crisis of 2020 clears.

 

To learn about other principles that can improve Workforce Morale, follow the links below:

 

To learn how you can boost your Workforce Morale through the power of personality, connect with Traitify.

 

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