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10 healthy employees for each healthy manager?

May 4, 2020

If there’s one positive thing coming out of the COVID-19 crisis, it is that we put our health first again.

But how long will that last, once the virus is under control?

Personally, I hope a very long time. Imagine a world where health, happiness, and well-being rule.

Ok, I admit, silver linings are part of my personality. When something bad happens, I spontaneously seek for a positive outcome, as if otherwise I cannot accept nor cope with it.

Still, I refuse to believe that Covid-19 will just blow over. Our lives have been turned upside down, we have been shaken up, we have felt anxiety & stress, and we have all developed our most positive inner person.

While I leave the predictions on the economy and environmental impact to the specialists, I do have an opinion on the impact it can and should have on (employee) well-being.

In the work environment, leaders now have a unique opportunity to create healthier workplaces and to promote employee well-being.

I’m not necessarily talking about vast and expensive corporate health programs, including progressive wellness tech, AI, and digital solutions integrated with your health insurance. Many positive impacts on work-life balance, stress management, and climate can be obtained with optimal integration of your work from home policy into your workplace management. Remote work contributes to a better work-life balance and offers more time for focus work, while it reduces stress and commuting time. An excellent workplace will satisfy our need for social interaction, brainstorming, and creative teamwork.

It’s actually my own company’s mission to help companies improve their workplace environment and employee experience.

Companies that – prior to the outbreak – did not yet provide working from home to their employees, should now make this a priority. Companies that already did, should think about expanding their policy.

Colleagues wearing face masks

The role of (healthy) managers

I am also talking about and to managers.

The key to creating a healthy workplace lies primarily in the hands of the managers. Managers act as role models for the employees; hence they can play a vital role in building a culture of health & wellness.

So, dear fellow managers, please take a moment to consider the following questions:

  • Are you promoting a healthy lifestyle?
  • Are you leading by example?
  • Do you encourage a healthy work-life balance?

Sounds like a heavy burden to carry? It need not be.

There are many simple ways of initiating a wellness culture and facilitating healthy choices.

Dealing with stress is dealing with mental well-being

Take one thing for example: stress. The number one factor in the deteriorating health of today’s employees is stress. Managers should strive to reduce stress in their teams and develop the stress management of their team members. Make clear agreements on objectives, expected deliverables, and priorities. Make sure that the workload in your team is fairly distributed, monitor the overtime of your team, and take action in case of structural overtime. Identify the root cause, and together seek a solution. Make your team members realize that well-being should always be the priority. Also, set the example when it comes to remaining calm & Zen. Find healthy outlets, balance work with relaxation, and foresee quality moments with friends and family.

Active working environments for increased productivity and physical well-being

When managers promote an active working environment, they contribute to the overall health of the company. Replacing sit-down meetings with one-to-one walking meetings, integrating moments for focus & relaxation throughout the day, encouraging employees to participate in sports activities… these are simple yet meaningful measures.

Recognition

Finally, my all-time favorite: gratitude and recognition.

Acknowledge your employees (efforts), appreciate them and the job they do, take time to express how they are making a difference and how their work contributes to the company’s success.

Showing gratitude and being thankful is one of the simplest things by which managers can improve employee wellbeing. A sincere “thank you” is a pure morale boost and a recipe for happiness. Not convinced yet? Appreciation has a proven effect on higher productivity and lowers absenteeism. Don’t forget that your success as a leader depends on the success of your team. To be successful yourself, you also need a healthy and happy team.

So, take care of yourselves;
Take care of your employees!

By Eva Michielsen

By Eva Michielsen

Chief HR Officer at Spacewell

Eva has 20 years of broad experience in Human Resources. She combines strategic thinking with a pragmatic, hands-on approach, creative problem solving, and effective communication. Her credo: authentic leadership is practiced in attitude and actions, rather than in words.

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