Employee Self-Care: 10 Ways Organizations Can Be Supportive

Today's post comes to us from board member Sharlyn Lauby. a.k.a., The HR Bartender and president of ITM Group, Inc., a training company focused on developing programs to retain and engage talent in the workplace   Self-care is any activity we deliberately do in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. In theory, when we say that we “take care of ourselves”, we're practicing self-care. The challenge with self-care is identifying the best ways to care for ourselves. Now, you might be saying to yourself, “What does this have to do with employees?” The answer is … a lot. It's hard for employees to be engaged if they're not healthy. It's difficult for employees to be productive if they're not healthy. Disengaged and unproductive employees impact the bottom-line. Even if the company doesn't have a formal wellness or well-being program, it makes sense for employers to support the idea of self-care. Here are a few things companies can do to support employee self-care without spending extra money or creating a program.

  1. Make ergonomics a priority. Whether you have an open concept office or not, employees need to have office space with good lighting, chairs that provide good posture, and a quiet space to concentrate.
  2. Create “stop doing” goals. Often, when we talk about goals, it's in the context of the things we plan “to do”. Instead of always doing more, what if every employee had to set one goal of something they wanted to “stop doing”? It might be very helpful in changing attitude and behavior.
  3. Encourage use of health insurance wellness benefits. Most health insurance plans offer a set of preventative services like physicals, shots and vaccinations, and screening tests. Make sure employees know the preventative health services available to them.
  4. Plan healthier company-sponsored meals. I love pizza and doughnuts at employee meetings as much as the next person. But an occasional salad would send a better nutritional message. If companies want to encourage healthy eating, then they should offer healthy options.
  5. Promote sleep. According to the American Sleep Association, approximately 50-70 million U.S. adults have a sleep disorder. Lack of sleep has been attributed to driving accidents, obesity, and unethical conduct.
  6. Offer stress and time management courses. Schedule a lunch and learn session. Arianna Huffington's Thrive Program is available on LinkedIn Learning. SkillShare has a class on how to “Create a Perfect Morning Routine” that can be accessed from Facebook.
  7. Practice mindfulness. Harvard Business Review published an article earlier this year titled “Spending 10 Minutes a Day on Mindfulness Subtly Changes the Way You React to Everything”. Giving employees 10 minutes could yield big results - for them and for the company.
  8. Recognize employees for their work and accomplishments. In general, people like to know what they do well. It's comforting and affirming. Managers have the ability to lift the confidence of employees by giving them recognition in a way that means something.
  9. Have “walking” meetings. We've heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”. Instead of having a conversation with a colleague in a conference room, the new trend is to talk while walking. It makes the meeting go faster and you get in a little exercise.
  10. Provide flexible work schedules. Employees want to know they have control over their careers, and that includes their schedules. When emergencies occur, they want to know that the company can empathize. Giving employees flexibility helps them manage their lives.

Oh, and here's one more. Number 11 - demonstrate effective use of technology. It might be tempting to say that tech is the reason more people can't focus on self-care. But that's not necessarily true. There are many apps on the market that can make self-care fun and effective. Organizations need to set realistic expectations where technology is concerned. Managers should role model the tech etiquette they want to see from others. Companies looking to improve engagement and retention need to examine the ways they support employee self-care. And employees need opportunities to relax and recharge in order to do their best work.