Stress, anxiety and depression are conditions on the rise. They’re isolating and debilitating, and productivity killers, making them a serious performance management concern.
As CEOs and managers, we need to be doing more to protect and encourage employee wellbeing and a healthy overall mindset. This is becoming a fairly universal consensus, with employee wellbeing being highlighted as one of the most notable performance management trends of 2019. As Josh Bersin, president and founder of Bersin & Associates, says: “Wellbeing is still a big part of HR. It’s not surprising that productivity is suffering when stress levels are high; employees feel overwhelmed and they’re getting less work done. We’re losing approximately £42 billion a year because of stress at work, much of which manifests itself in presenteeism.”
Though you might understand the importance of employee wellbeing and sound mental health, you might not know where to start in terms of supporting it. Below are seven key performance management techniques that will help you prioritise and promote employee wellbeing within your organisation. Remember, not all of the techniques below will be easy or quick to implement — but they will produce results that are well worth the work.
Make Wellness Part of Your Regular Performance Discussions
To normalise employee wellness and to get your employee comfortable with discussing their individual issues, you need to first incorporate it into your company culture. You should encourage and facilitate open, honest and transparent communication within your business. One easy way to open up the discussion is to make such talk part of your regular performance management discussions.
Fully aware of the importance of employee wellness, Clydesdale & Yorkshire Banking Group is an example of one organisation that has begun including wellbeing questions as part of its regular performance conversations. In such talks, the manager is encouraged to enquire (in a gentle and non-intrusive way) about how the employee is coping in the workplace and whether they have encountered any workplace stress or anxiety that is impairing their ability to work. Once pinpointed, these issues can be addressed early on.
Offer Holistic Workplace Wellness Programmes
Many forward-thinking companies are starting to introduce holistic workplace wellness programmes. These programmes are tailored but often focus on stress reduction, eating and sleeping habits, and emotional health. Some even go as far as to address posture. As we move into 2019 and beyond, we can expect more and more companies to invest in such programmes to improve the general health and wellbeing of their workforce.
Discourage Lunches at Desks
A lot of employees decide they can’t take a real break from their work and, therefore, decide to lunch at their desks. This has proven to be a bad idea. Though employees might perceive it as a show of dedication and perseverance, they will suffer in the long run — as will the company, due to the dip in employee performance.
Employees need breaks. It’s as simple as that — human beings need to recharge. Eight hours of staring at a computer and giving their work their all will take its toll and ultimately lead to burnout and absenteeism — something your company would certainly rather avoid. Consider implementing a “lunch away from the screen” policy at your workplace. Better still, ask your employees to consider taking lunch outside. Getting some fresh air and some nature therapy will do them and their general wellbeing a world of good.
Encourage a Social Environment
Human beings are social creatures, and, as such, social connectedness is an important consideration when discussing employee wellness.To make your employees feel part of a well-functioning team and, ultimately, connected to your organisation, encourage sociability. Rather than stamping out water cooler conversations, acknowledge that they have their benefits. They allow employees to vent, connect and recharge. Isolated and frustrated employees will undoubtedly suffer from poor mental health and won’t be the engaged employees you want them to be.
Stop Watching the Clock
Adventurous companies across the world are experimenting with employee hours — more specifically, they are experimenting with not tracking them at all. These businesses acknowledge that rather than hours spent at work, it is the work accomplished that actually matters. With that in mind, these companies have decided to track goals, not hours. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the employee who is first in and last out is the most productive. Taking the focus off the clock and onto the individual will help them flourish and take the pressure off, allowing them to work with their own productivity rhythms. This approach is far more conducive to healthy wellbeing in the long run.
Minimise Stress with Mindfulness
Work in the modern office is constantly busy. It might be exciting, but it can be equally stressful, especially when you don’t take a second to pause and gather your thoughts. As part of your performance management processes, encourage your employees to take a breath and take time away from their desks. Get them to take a walk, stretch or simply close their eyes for a small amount of time. Such reflection will allow employees to regroup and reassess, meaning they will be able to get back to their work with renewed vigour and enthusiasm.
Consider Becoming More Flexible
There is no better way to accommodate and promote employee wellbeing than to improve your flexible working conditions. This might look like introducing flexitime to allow your employees to visit their doctors or therapists, or it might mean allowing for telecommuting or job sharing, depending on an employee’s situation and circumstances. Start by having discussions with your employees and finding out what would work for them and your business. Begin with trial runs and provide your employees with the tools they need to succeed. You might just be surprised at the results.
We’re all human. We all need help now and then, and while we want to appear professional at all times, we also need certain allowances and assistance at work. Think about what you might want from your company if you were in your employee’s situation and use that insight to turn your prospering business into a thriving social enterprise.