As leaders, we have an opportunity to do more than just bring employees back to work. We can also help our teams—and ourselves—to heal. We’re strong. We’re resilient. We’re not broken. But we are banged up a bit. And in some cases, work is adding to the bruising.
There are a thousand things that are causing us stress that companies can’t help with, at least in the short term. Access to daycare, housing prices, transportation, and constant change all fall into that category. Our companies can, however, take a stronger stand on helping with employees’ mental well-being. When our tank is closer to full, all of our other challenges are easier to deal with.
Here are three simple ways that work can help us heal.
Leaders can also help our teams—and ourselves—to heal
It starts at the top, with the messages that leaders share. A good leader can acknowledge that what we’re going through is hard. They can acknowledge how valuable employees are to the success of the company. Recognizing the challenges and sacrifices we’re all making, they can share their personal gratitude. Employees want to be seen, heard, acknowledged.
And then, leaders can show some vulnerability. When a leader shares some of their own journey, some of their own struggles, it gives the rest of the organization an umbrella of safety to have real conversations. Some of the anxiety we feel is caused by the perceived perfection that exists on social media. “Everyone seems perfect on Instagram. What’s wrong with me?” When a leader shows their true strength in vulnerability, we’re all able to be real, and the healing emerges. Teams also start to feel more connected to each other. “I have to measure up to the people around me,” becomes “We’re in this together.”
Companies just want to get things done, and typically, more rules are put into place when trust is low. Instead of tightening up, leadership can shift toward cultivating an environment that’s abundant not only in productivity, but also in trust and compassion. Talking about how employees are valuable is a great start. Showing them is even better. People feel less stressed when they have more flexibility and more control over their work environment.
It’s a different way of managing, but elevating the way we treat employees by trusting them more and giving them more freedom will ultimately yield better results and more loyalty.
With this flexibility, workers can manage their own lives. They can have more agency. Stress is reduced, and this collective exhale will lead to better lives and better results.
Employees want more help with mental well-being from their companies. In a recent employee satisfaction survey done by Glint, across many companies, they found that nearly 75% of employees wanted more from their company in terms of mental well-being.
There are a range of offerings in this space. Many companies are increasing access counseling solutions, drastically lowering the barrier to receiving help and reducing the stigma of receiving help. At the extreme end, there are crisis hotlines, made readily available to all.
Access to mindfulness resources can help keep us from reaching that boiling point. Workplace mindfulness can include workshops on topics like Growth Mindset, or Building Resilience. It could be regular meditation sessions that everyone is encouraged to join, whether virtually or in person.