Written by contributor writer, Lesley Cooper, Founder & CEO of WorkingWell
While there is a normal level of pressure embedded in any job role, it is important leaders are vigilant in ensuring that this pressure doesn’t exceed the individual capacity to cope and cause deeper well-being issues. It is essential leaders are proactive in their approach to well-being strategy rather than reactive when employees may already be on the road to burnout.
By taking these 5 steps, leaders can help bolster employee resilience which will maximize well-being, productivity, and engagement.
While some people feel confident pushing back on demands to protect their own well-being, many feel uncomfortable doing this. Whether it is because we are trying to keep everyone happy or feel anxious about looking uncommitted or incapable, it can be challenging to prioritize our own work and energy reserves. This often ends in employees taking on too much, which can lead to a decline in quality of work, creativity, and ultimately employee burnout.
It is important that leaders set a precedent that employees must indicate to others if they do not have the capacity for a task or extra work. Saying no should be normalised, as well as communication about workload and capacity. When people start defining their own boundaries and protecting them, it also encourages them to respect the boundaries of others.
Humans don’t work like computers. We need regular breaks to maintain cognitive ability. On average, the human brain can only concentrate on the same task for between 90-120 minutes before the quality of our work begins to sharply decline. It is the responsibility of leaders to ensure that regular short rest periods are implemented as standard practice. Going for a 10-minute walk after a 2-hour writing task or taking a 5-minute break to grab some water and chat with a colleague after an intense meeting should be encouraged.
Regular recovery periods will ensure employees are working with full energy tanks and will maximize the quality of their output while protecting their wellbeing. Leaders should look out for employees who make a habit of not taking breaks so that they can gently encourage them to take a step back and recharge.
A network of support within the workplace is important to maximize well-being and ensure nobody is isolated. While support from management is important, building a culture where everyone supports each other will help promote emotional resilience and build a culture of psychological safety where employees feel comfortable voicing concerns, as well as asking for help from teams as well as managers.
Encouraging teams to come together and have open, constructive conversations is crucial. Hosting workshops focussed on collaboration or encouraging socials to facilitate this will help employees build these supportive and communicative relationships.
Traditionally, overworking has often been glorified as a representation of ambition or dedication to a person’s job. However, it is important to debunk this misconception. Overworking should be discouraged to protect employee well-being and resilience. When employees get to the end of each day or week, the time that they spend fully detached from work is crucial to their recovery from workplace pressure and to recharge their energy levels for the next wave of performance.
Leaders must watch out to see who is responding to emails regularly outside of hours or often edits documents on weekends to ensure that they can check in with this person and uncover why this might be happening. The benefits of rest periods must be made clear to employees, so work with them to understand the root cause of their overworking.
Sometimes in the midst of the bustle of work, we forget to take a moment to celebrate our wins and praise everyone for their hard work. It can be easy to forget how far a simple thank you can go. Or how a shout-out to someone for something helpful or impressive they did can increase someone’s motivation and engagement.
Ensuring everyone knows their worth in the company and how appreciated they are is key to maintaining a resilient workforce. Leaders should remember to give praise when they are impressed and reward employees for hard work. This mustn’t be forgotten in the busyness of the day-to-day.
Building employee resilience is foundational to encouraging positive mental health among employees and should be prioritized by leaders. To avoid the need for firefighting issues, adopt a proactive approach that promotes well-being in the day-to-day.
About the Author:
Lesley Cooper is a management consultant with a background in health and wellbeing consulting in the private healthcare sector, Lesley Cooper, has over 25 years of experience in the design and delivery of all elements of employee wellbeing management programs. She is the founder and CEO of WorkingWell, an award-winning specialist consultancy that helps organizations to manage pressure and stress in a way that facilitates a culture of sustainable high performance.