Jill Shabelman talked to health strategist and employee wellness expert Gus Turner, and he provided tips for companies to improve employees’ well-being.
There is a silver lining to the challenges we’re facing as the coronavirus upends work, school, and plans. Social media feeds are exploding with images of teams, friends, and families connecting through virtual hangouts. As a result, we see the power of relationships in times of crisis.
Employees are sharing their stories
At Stories Inc, we have been watching how leaders and organizations are beginning to embrace their roles to not only ensure the health and safety of their teams, but also their well-being. Employees who are feeling supported by their companies in all aspects of their lives are using their voices to amplify company values.
Large organizations may be more resource-equipped to roll out new or enhanced programs. However, companies of all sizes can still find ways to foster connection amongst their teams, and offer them resources to support their physical, emotional, and mental health.
Gus Turner is a Health Strategist who consults with organizations on employee engagement and well-being. Gus has been helping clients fit well-being programs into their new environments, and in many cases, taking these programs virtual.
Move well-being programs online
Gus says that companies who had well-being programs in place before the current crisis are well-positioned to pivot and offer programs virtually. For example, an organization in the medical industry has taken their usual onsite fitness classes and mindfulness programs online. Now, employees can still participate without being in the office. Gus says, “Now more than ever, we have to bring people together and use it as an opportunity to strengthen connections.”
Ultimately, these efforts can have a lasting impact on employees and their families, which is the ultimate testament to company values that put people first. Gus shared a story of an employee with a personal connection to a gratitude practice she learned at work. This employee loved the workplace gratitude activity so much that she started a gratitude jar at home. Every day, each person in her family writes what they’re grateful for and adds it to the jar. Their family’s plan is to review the entire jar’s worth of gratitude at the end of the year.
Tips to improve employee well-being
Gus recommends these tips for companies to improve employees well-being that apply to organizations of all sizes:
1. Acknowledge your company culture and listen to what employees need right now.
Programs you create now have the opportunity to enhance your culture if they meet the needs of the people in your organization, not a cookie cutter solution that doesn’t align to your unique culture.
2. Implement simply structured activities
Take simple steps like hosting virtual coffee chats where employees get to share what’s on their mind that isn’t related to work tasks. Come to those activities with a plan so everyone feels included and that their voice is heard.
3. Activate employees passionate about community wellness
Ask employees who are passionate about well-being to join you in creating programs. Remember that not everyone will jive with all programs so making participation voluntary is key.
Keep it simple
The best guidance, Gus says, is to keep it simple. Right now isn’t the time to roll out complex programs that require employees to learn new tools or ways to access content. Meet your teams where they are and give them a chance to be seen and heard.
The current crisis will impact so many aspects of our working lives. The employers who recognize this, and step up to the challenge of helping their people holistically, will benefit. In weeks and months from now, these organizations may see a stronger employee community.
Additionally, the organizations who emphasized well-being may see employees sharing stories of how they felt supported during this tough time. Candidates will be looking for how you reacted during the COVID-19 crisis, and these employee stories will be the proof of your unique company culture.