How to Improve Workplace Wellbeing Right Now in 5 Easy Steps

CoachHub · 8 August 2022 · 7 min read

There is a growing appreciation of the link between workplace wellbeing and productivity at work, and the importance of building and supporting a culture of employee wellbeing. There is also an increasing amount of compelling evidence that demonstrates an impressive return on investment for organizations that invest in wellbeing in the workplace. But how do leaders ensure that team members are supported with resources, tools and on-site healthcare opportunities? First, understand what comprises wellbeing. Then, put in place programs and processes proven to be successful at improving the employee experience.

Wellbeing in the workplace: Evaluating the effects on employees

Studies, our own included, show that HR leaders are focused on employee wellbeing above all else, including performance, productivity, engagement and retention. Some organizations focus on reducing employee stress levels as the path to wellbeing, and for good reason. A study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 71% of people report being tense or stressed out during the workday. Others look at trying to increase wellbeing per se. 

Part of the challenge is understanding what constitutes wellbeing in tangible terms so improvements can be made and measured. Here are some key factors to pay attention to: 

  • Job satisfaction – A positive work environment, fairness, promotional opportunities and responsibilities all contribute to job satisfaction (or lack thereof). 
  • Employee engagement – The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) pinpoints optimism, willingness to go above and beyond, being solution-oriented and having a passion for learning as markers of engagement.
  • Job stress – According to the APA study cited above, work stress is most often attributed to low salaries, long hours, and lack of opportunities for growth and advancement. 
  • Personal happiness – As might be expected, people’s lives extend beyond the four walls of their workplace. Personal happiness is pivotal and affects the work environment as well as the home environment. 
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5 steps to improve wellbeing in the workplace

It is sometimes difficult for HR practitioners to know what their team members need and what is required to create a culture of wellbeing in the workplace. However, with a little help from digital coaching you can improve workplace wellbeing in five easy steps. 

 

#1 Take the time to actively listen to your employees

Who doesn’t want to feel truly heard? For some, it’s intrinsic to self-worth. For others, it can mean the difference between staying in a job or leaving for a position where your thoughts and ideas are valued. Either way, supportive relationships that provide a sense of being listened to can support personal and professional wellbeing. 

Managers can foster a sense of wellbeing at work by actively listening to employees’ concerns. Active listening comprises three basic elements: 

  • Attention – People pick up on body language immediately. If the person they’re talking to has physically checked out of the conversation—arms crossed, leaning back, glancing elsewhere, fidgeting, etc.—they’ll know, and they’ll likely stop sharing information then and there.
  • Comprehension – It’s one thing to talk. It’s quite another to be understood. The tried-and-true way of demonstrating comprehension is to check in with the speaker to ensure that what you heard was what they meant. Two ships that pass in the night (or in the office, as it were) often do so because they don’t really hear each other. 
  • Acceptance – Simply put, acceptance is the opposite of judgement. The point of active listening is, perhaps ironically, not to act, but to take in what someone is saying as meaningful and true to them without putting in your own two cents. Can you probe with follow-up questions? Sure. Can you tell them what you think they should do differently? Not unless they ask you to. It’s active listening, not active telling.

Active listening helps foster employee wellbeing because people feel seen, heard and most importantly, valued. They also feel accepted, which create a virtuous cycle in which they are confident talking about their experiences and concerns, and just as confident sharing ideas for improvement. It’s so powerful that active listening could be considered an employee wellbeing strategy in and of itself. 

#2 Be aware of emotional triggers that affect employee wellbeing

The key to managing emotional triggers that affect an employee’s sense of wellbeing is to see them coming. When managers are attuned to the signs that an office situation may trigger a negative emotional response, they will be more adept at helping reduce stress and re-establish wellbeing in the workplace. 

Common triggers and their signs include:

 

  • A memory of a traumatic eventMaybe an employee had an altercation with a coworker leading to a negative experience in the office. They may be avoiding each other so as not to trigger another confrontation. 
  • Ego protectionWhen employees are emotionally triggered by a threat to their ego, they may defend themselves by arguing, belittling others or even, in extreme cases, becoming violent.
  • Opposing beliefsWhen employees clash in terms of their personal beliefs, they may find it difficult to tolerate one another’s perspectives. 
  • StressWhen people are stressed, emotional triggers are amplified. Recognizing when employees are stressed can help managers slow things down before the employee reacts in a way that is out of proportion.

It is possible (and certainly preferable) to recognize the physical signs of an employee about to react to an emotional trigger. Among them are shortness of breath, a flushed appearance and sweating. Signs that an employee may talk about, but that aren’t immediately apparent, include a racing heart and feeling disoriented or queasy. Those physical symptoms can be followed by a desire to leave the situation, lash out at others or argue heatedly. They can also transform into anger, crying, hiding, fear, grief or panic. 

To restore workplace wellbeing, help the employee adopt a gentle acceptance of their emotional response. Encourage him or her to recognize the emotion, not fight it. By doing so, it minimizes the emotion’s hold on them. This passing through of emotions is called meshing, and it allows the feelings to pass right through your body, just like wind through a screen. It’s all about helping employees self-manage and handle their emotions so they facilitate, rather than hinder, their productivity. Your aim is to move them forward with a grounded and focused state of mind.

#3 Give people autonomy

Trust is powerful. When employees know what to do, how to do it and when it needs to be done, trusting that they’ll do so and granting them the autonomy they need to balance that with everything else in their lives can significantly move the needle on employee wellbeing. Of course, every organization needs mechanisms in place to ensure the desired outcomes are being met and remedies to fix whatever’s not working, but beyond that it’s just micromanagement. 

When the rhythms of the business are understood and respected, and employees are trusted to deliver agreed-upon outcomes, their wellbeing may be the company’s reward. Autonomy may be as simple as empowering people to address customer concerns themselves. It may be remote working or flexible work hours that give people the work life balance they need to get things done. 

#4 Enable professional growth 

The employee experience isn’t just about the here-and-now, it’s about what comes next in terms of their skills, knowledge and career. Company cultures that promote continuous learning rather than just performance foster a growth mindset that is known to improve workplace wellbeing. Adopting the idea that an employee’s talents and skills can be developed through input from others, good strategies and hard work allows people to find their ‘why.’ They become more intrinsically motivated to evolve. Build in time for employees to spend on professional and personal development using on-demand tools and content or guidance directly from experts in their fields. 

#5 Provide insight and measure progress

Physical fitness apps have been available for years, enabling people to easily measure their heart rate, sleep quality and weight loss, and to plot the physical signs of improvement over time. Today, an increasing number of online wellbeing platforms measure more nuanced data, such as improvements in self-care, mood, adaptability and overall effectiveness. These metrics support employee health—physical and mental—by helping them set goals and providing feedback in real time. They can motivate individuals to stay on their paths to wellbeing in the office and when they’re working from home. With the right motivational tools in place, organizations may see a dramatic improvement in employee wellbeing.

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CoachHub supports mental health in the workplace and overall employee wellbeing with CoachHub Wellbeing™, a proactive and personal approach to coaching. We offer 1:1 coaching centered on a personalized relationship that is encouraging and compassionate. Our certified professional coaches have experience in mental health and psychology in the workplace. They provide our coachees with reflection, space, support and insight. We invite you to explore what establishing a caring culture can do to help your company flourish.

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