For leaders and managers, the last two years have been really challenging. Like everyone, change, especially unexpected change, is draining for those in decision-making roles. It becomes more challenging when you are trying to do the best for the company and for your team.
The good news is we’ve all learned a lot, both for ourselves and for our organizations. We now have the opportunity to take what we’ve learned and get more strategic when it comes to leading employee engagement and employee health and wellbeing.
As a leader at any level, now is a good time to take stock of what worked best for your own resilience and what didn’t. Each of us needs to know what we need to function at our best. We then need to find ways to visibly role model that for our teams. We may not think that employees are looking to us for that guidance, but they do. If you are not valuing your own resilience, it will have an impact on your employees. You need your employees at their best and engaged. Your role modeling can be key to making that happen.
- National Sleep Foundation guidelines advise that healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Getting good restorative rest translates into better cognitive function and better emotional control. It makes us better leaders.
- There is a growing body of scientific evidence that environments and measures that promote healthy, nutritious diets, while minimizing the consumption of highly processed and refined “junk” foods may provide benefits even beyond the well-known effects on physical health, including improved psychological wellbeing. Our commitment to eating to thrive can help us better be prepared to manage change and crisis.
- Social connectedness is closely tied to mental and emotional health. When people feel connected, they have lower levels of anxiety and depression. As a leader, we may feel more isolated. Making sure leaders have the support they need means they can better foster social connection in their teams.
- We all know that regular physical activity can reduce risks of many diseases, but it also is shown to improve memory and brain function. Committing to physical activity, as a leader, and visibly modeling this for teams is good for you and for the organization.
Most of us already know all of this, but it is easy to stick to learned patterns of behavior. Making a commitment or recommitment to your health and wellbeing can translate into being a better leader. How? It is your safeguard against the unexpected. It is the core that helps you navigate through crunch times and crises.
Employee health and wellbeing programming is still often thought of as "nice to have" instead of the foundation of being able to manage through change. When leaders embrace a more resilient approach for themselves, it can help move the work culture to a place where everyone has more opportunity to thrive. That can translate into lower turnover, which can reduce overall bottom-line costs.
What You Can Do
- Find out who in leadership is regularly engaging in company provided health and wellbeing programs, services, and activities. If the numbers are low, consider some targeted conversations about why their visible participation is vital for them and for the company.
- Take stock of what employees think are the biggest barriers to using employee health and wellbeing benefits. Sometimes the reason employees aren’t engaging is they don’t understand how it meets their pain points. Once you have that information, you can craft a company-specific communications strategy to align what you are offering and get managers more involved. The company is paying for these benefits, all employees should see the value and understand when and how to use them.
- Consider leadership training focused on physical and mental resilience and connection to purpose. Your leaders are key to the growth of your organization. Helping them prioritize their health and wellbeing can translate into better creative problem solving from them and better leadership.
- There is no doubt that we will continue to be challenged by change and the unexpected. Being in a grounded place of health and wellbeing, as a leader, means better results for companies when that happens. Take advantage of all that your company’s health and wellbeing programs and services have to offer.
Being a leader committed to their own health and wellbeing takes practice. However, it can be the path to more effective leadership and make you a leader that takes their team through change to a better future. Questions for you:
• What kind of leader do you want to be?
• How prepared are you for the next change?
• What do you do daily that protects your health and wellbeing and makes you more resilient?
We can all be better leaders in our organizations when we make the choice to be physically and mentally healthier, when we are clear about our connection to the purpose of the organization, and our own lives. We may not get it right the first time, or the second, but with practice, we can all be leaders who are better equipped to manage change.
“Champions keep playing until they get it right." – Billie Jean King, former world No. 1 Professional Tennis Player