Give them space, safety, autonomy, goals and support
At Spill, we like to think there are 5 main things to think about when it comes to boosting employee wellbeing and feeling better at work. Call them pillars, if you like that kind of thing.
The rise in connected technologies means that modern workers feel like they need to be contactable at any time of day. In fact, 60% of tech workers told us they felt pressure to respond to work messages out of hours. As more of us have started to work flexible hours from home, the boundary between our lives and our livelihoods has blurred even further.
Answering calls and emails outside of work hours simply wasn’t an expectation before, and it isn’t healthy now. When France introduced its ‘right to disconnect’ legislation in 2017, it cited a French study which showed communication outside of the regular working day increases cognitive and emotional overload, which can lead to anxiety and burnout.
There’s also a big link between quality of sleep, mental health and workplace wellbeing. Sleep might be something you’re less able to influence as a manager, but giving people the time and space to truly ‘switch off’ and live their lives is vital for their health and wellbeing.
Quick wins for better boundaries at work:
As well as big, pragmatic factors like sick pay, progression frameworks and regular contracted hours to offer more job security and financial predictability, employers should be looking to nurture a sense of psychological safety in every workplace.
Psychological safety means removing fear in any form from your day-to-day working culture. Fear of conflict; fear of taking risks; fear of speaking up; fear of rejection; fear of retribution. All of these make for a pretty miserable experience at work. If you can eliminate fear from your company culture, you’re likely to see employee wellbeing, job satisfaction, innovation and productivity all soar in response.
Leaders and managers in your business need to model ‘safe interpersonal risk-taking’ in order for employees to feel like they can do it, too. That means making sure everybody feels comfortable enough to call out mistakes, suggest a silly idea, give feedback or ask for help.
Quick wins for creating psychological safety at work:
The higher up in a company you go, the less stressed you become. It might sound counter-intuitive, but according to a Harvard study, leaders are less stressed out than their teams. And that’s largely down to a sense of control.
A feeling of powerlessness over work assignments, relationships with colleagues or your career direction in general can cause emotional stress, a lack of motivation and symptoms of anxiety and burnout.
To keep your team brimming with vim, it’s a good idea to promote a sense of autonomy over how, where and when they get their work done, as well as an influence on (or at least a good understanding of) big company decisions.
Quick wins for helping your team feel more in control:
Another way to prevent burnout and prioritise the wellbeing of your team is to help them stay engaged in the work they’re doing. A clear company mission statement is a good start – with any luck that’ll motivate some of your team at a high level, but clarity around their responsibilities and their specific objectives is super important to keep people psychologically engaged with their job day-to-day. That’s because we all want to feel we’re working towards something meaningful.
The most meaningful goals are ones that feel reachable, fair, purposeful, aligned to our own personal values, and involve an outcome that we can directly influence (without too many random factors). Goals are objectively good for us for a few reasons. As well as giving us a sense of purpose, they give us a chance to prove our competence – and that can have a big impact on our confidence at work. They also help us to prioritise better. With a clear goal in mind, we can consciously decide where to put our energy, so we’ll feel more focused, less distracted and less stressed, by extension.
Quick wins for setting better goals at work:
As a manager, it’s easier to provide professional feedback and guidance than it is emotional support. That’s because (in most cases) we’ve worked our way up to a management role and we’re familiar enough with the work our team is doing to give direction and advice. But no one teaches us how to cope with the emotional labour that comes along with a management position.
One in three employees say mental health support from their company was lacking over the last 12 months, and a massive four out of every five managers felt ill-equipped to deal with the mental health issues of their direct reports.
Empowering your managers through proper mental health training and external resources to signpost their team towards is one of the best ways you can support people’s wellbeing and boost productivity at work. Even opening up conversations about mental health can make a world of difference to someone who’s struggling.
Quick wins for adding mental health support at work:
Spill offers therapy sessions and mental health training for your whole team. Learn more about how Spill can supercharge your employees' wellbeing.