An element of DEI is ensuring the well-being of all employees at work. Well-being is defined as the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy. It is the assurance that one’s comfort is considered and valued. What we see more and more given the social issues of today [from 2020 to the present] is that there is an impact on the mental health of employees as they navigate the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world we live in today.
Millions of Americans have left their jobs since 2020 and still, even more, say that they intend to leave as more people feel free to –or forced to–move toward employment that better matches their skills, talents, family obligations, lifestyles, values, and expectations. We have an opportunity to transform how employees are supported in this VUCA world. It is something that can help organizations to attract, hire and retain the workforce they need for continued growth.
Employee well-being is not a ‘thing’ to be dealt with until things go back to normal, rather it is the new normal. Making well-being a strategic priority can fulfill the opportunity to make a difference for all employees and attract new employees who see that the organization has a strategy for ensuring well-being. So, what can be done to bump up an organization’s efforts to make well-being a priority?
Traditionally, organizations rely on EAP (Employee Assistance Program) providers to address crisis situations. They offer workshops, counseling services, interventions, etc. to support employees in dealing with the crisis in front of them. This approach is more reactive than proactive in developing and sustaining employee well-being. Creating an ongoing support system that puts employee well-being at the center of an organization’s culture, strategy, and expectations of leadership is what embeds it into the organization. Keeping three things in mind can ensure that the focus and prioritization of well-being are achieved, culture and technology, keeping the needs of employees at the top of the list, and carving out time for well-being.
Culture and Technology
Culture and technology are interrelated. An understanding of where the organization is culturally is needed to see how technology could impact or improve that culture. Think of how technology is used to connect people and create a space for inclusion, recognition, etc.
Keeping the Needs of Employees at The Top of The List
Whatever the initiative to be deployed is, the employee must be at the center. Empathic leadership and conversations about well-being are essential to building trust and leaders need to be able to appreciate what employees may be going through. The use of technology can be value-added to assess and understand what employees may be going through by gathering data (surveys, polling, etc.). What can be found in the source of frustration for employees and ideas for new processes, procedures, and how the work occurs for them. A great contributor to improved well-being is understanding the employee experience in its entirety; without it, empathy cannot be built, and initiatives will fall flat.
Carving Out Time for Well-being
Traditionally, when the budget must be cut, the first cut is usually to learning and development or other organizational development activities that have long-term benefits to the organization but are not necessarily a business priority. Downtime for learning, development, and organizational culture activities play a significant role in employee well-being. Allocating time for those activities will show employees that the organization takes their well-being seriously and that their state of mind is important.
Whatever an organization decides to do to provide safe spaces for employees to bring their full selves to work, it should be done strategically and made a priority!