Self-care has become an important concept in the business world. In an increasingly tight job market, employers are all too aware of the real-world effects that job dissatisfaction and burnout can have on employees – and on their bottom lines. Employees that are stressed, overworked, and underappreciated are much more likely to feel disengaged at work. Some may leave for better opportunities, while others may stay but not provide the same level of output as they did in the past.

Sometimes, the workload or the state of your business is simply out of your hands. Maybe the budget just won’t allow more headcount or maybe the business is growing faster than expected and everyone has to work a little bit harder to meet growth demands. Regardless of why your employees are stressed, there IS something you can do to help them and to encourage self-care.

By helping employees take better care of themselves you’ll still get business results, but it won’t be at the expense of your staff’s well-being. Employees will be happier, healthier, more productive, and more engaged with their job and the company.

What can you as a business leader do to encourage self-care in the workplace? We’ve got some ideas.

6 Ways To Promote Self-Care In The Workplace

  1. Encourage Connections. How many of us skip lunch regularly or eat at our desks so we can get a little bit more work in? This is a terrible drain on employees, even if they are doing it to themselves. You probably don’t want to go so far as to mandate that employees take breaks and eat lunch away from their desks, but DO encourage them to! Do what you can to encourage connections and camaraderie among your staff. This helps boost morale and creates connections that can support us on those trying days. Volunteer together. Create a team for the local sports league. Establish a walking club. Sponsor employee lunches or bring in breakfast once a week; food is a perfect way to bring people together!
  2. Support Time Off. We need time off and yet so many people use their full amount of vacation time. Encourage your employees to take vacations, use sick days when they don’t feel well, go home early on slow days, or come in late. Encourage the use of “mental health” days so employees can recharge without fear of consequences. Establish task redundancy so no one feels like they can’t take time off or the job won’t get done.
  3. Offer Support. You can encourage self-care by establishing a wellness program, Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or encouraging employees to take full advantage of their health and wellness benefits. You may need to educate them on all of the benefits available to them. 
  4. Recognize and Reward. A little recognition can go a long way. Remember the days when companies recognized employees for X years of service or outstanding performance? Somewhere along the way we lost that. I’m not saying you need to bring back the watches and plaques, but make sure your employees are recognized for their hard work and rewarded appropriately. A shout-out email to the team, a mention in a staff meeting, a note in the employee newsletter…Heck, even just bringing them a Starbucks one morning can improve morale and make an employee feel appreciated. You don’t have to invest a lot of time or money into recognition, just make an effort.
  5. Use Technology Effectively. Technology can waste our time or it can help us better manage our time. Effective use of technology can make employees’ jobs easier and allow telecommuting and workplace flexibility, but it can also encroach on employee personal time. Invest in technology to help your business and employees, but be sure to establish healthy technology use policies and expectations.
  6. Model It. It’s all well and good for the boss to say he/she encourages self-care and wants employees to have a strong work-life balance, but if it’s not being modeled at the top and throughout the organization, employees won’t believe it, won’t adopt it, and won’t benefit. It’s on top leadership to model the behaviors they want to encourage within the organization and this includes self-care.

How are you encouraging self-care in the workplace? Do you think businesses have a responsibility to promote self-care among their employees?

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