Why Employee Well-Being Needs to Be a Priority

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Stress can come from anywhere. Whether it’s from home or the workplace, employees need your help. This is why you need to prioritize employee well-being.

Stress is a normal part of everyday life, but when it becomes unmanageable, it’s time to make a change. It is especially detrimental in the workplace. Overly-stressed employees start to disengage, productivity suffers, and they may even look for better opportunities elsewhere.

People want to work for employers who prioritize their well-being, and companies like TD Bank are leading by example. They understand what happens to employee well-being when stress becomes too much to handle.

How TD bank combats stress

TD Bank proactively addresses high-stress situations like robberies, which are not uncommon in the financial industry and can be very traumatizing for those involved. To help manage the emotional and psychological impact of these crises on their employees, the organization sends counselors immediately to the site to meet with those affected in a face-to-face session.

Employees can also experience trauma and emergencies at home. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy disrupted the lives of many TD Bank employees. Their employee assistance program (EAP) included a webinar for the staff within one week of the incident. Through the webinar, employees were educated on FEMA resources and provided articles to help them manage hurricane recovery efforts.

Those TD Bank employees who witnessed a robbery or lost their home in a storm were better equipped to manage their stress and return to work in a reasonable amount of time.

And the cost of helping employees in a fast, effective way ended up saving TD Bank money: absenteeism was manageable, employees returned to their same level of prior productivity and, most importantly, it reminded workers they come before anything else, thus boosting morale and job satisfaction.

Prioritizing employee well-being is important for all organizations. When you invest in the health of your staff, employees are more likely to strive to be their best.

What’s your role in improving employee well-being? This is how you can help:

Teach positive habits

When employees don’t know how to manage their stress, they may turn to bad coping skills and cause even more stress. The National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health released a report in July 2016. It found that 25 percent of employees say their job is bad for their sleeping and eating habits.

Sleep is vital to being able to manage stress. Unfortunately, CareerBuilder’s March 2016 survey found that 58 percent of employees don’t get enough sleep, with 44 percent saying that thinking about work keeps them up at night.

Start educating your staff on how to manage important lifestyle choices like sleeping and eating. Stock the break room with fresh produce and healthy snacks so they don’t fuel their stress with high-carb pastries and sugary drinks.

When it comes to their sleep, teach employees the power of mindfulness practices like meditation and progressive relaxation. Host a seminar and bring in a mindfulness coach. This way, instead of tossing and turning the night before their next presentation, your employees can let go of their worries and focus on being present and relaxing into sleep.

Treat employees as people

Employers occasionally treat their staff as assets, not human beings. It’s easy to forget they too have home lives. Employees have families to care for and responsibilities at home.

As such, you need to address your employees like people. When they feel overloaded, they should feel comfortable speaking up about unrealistic deadlines and heavy workloads. Also, they like to know where they stand. If they’re left guessing about what management thinks about their performance, they may stress and worry about how they measure up to expectations.

This is common — only 45 percent of employees frequently or always know if they’re doing a good job, according to Leadership IQ’s research from September 2016.

To minimize their concerns about their performance, simply provide recognition. If they do something awesome, praise them for it. This not only alleviates their stress but also boosts morale and may even improve performance.

Create stress-reducing policies

One major factor causing stress and hurting employee well-being is a lack of work-life balance. As technology integrates more into people’s lives, it’s starting to connect employees with work in an unhealthy way.

An April 2015 study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that “telepressure,” which describes the urge to quickly respond to all kinds of messaging, can interfere with needed work recovery time. Of the 303 participants, those who obsessed over responding reported poorer quality of sleep and missed more work due to health problems.  

Set email curfews and discourage employees from bringing work home with them on the weekends. If your employees are struggling to manage their workload and their home life, offer flexible work options.

First, establish your “core hours,” a timeframe where it’s mandatory for everyone to be in the office. Then, equip employees with the tools and resources they need to work remotely. Some might be most productive in the morning, while others are night owls. Giving them the choice allows them to find a schedule that suits them, which can reduce their workplace stress.

When it comes to employee well-being, the first thing you have to do is make it a priority. Approach it proactively by targeting the main culprit of poor employee health — stress.

When you empower and support your employees, they are far more equipped to manage their stress and focus on maintaining good health and strong work performance.

How are you making employee well-being a priority? Share in the comments below!

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