A traditional management mindset suggests that work is for work. A sharp line is drawn between office productivity and worker well-being.
Personal concerns should never impact a worker’s behavior in the workplace. In the office, everyone should behave professionally. Neither managers nor coworkers should become invested in one another’s personal lives.
However, history has shown time and again that this mindset is neither possible nor beneficial.
Humans are social creatures, and they need authentic connections with those they see regularly. They need this connection to feel comfortable and satisfied in their environment. Managers need to invest in developing a sense of well-being in their workers. In fact, there are four types of worker well-being that managers should always pay attention to.
1. Career Well-Being
How does an employee feel about the work they are doing?
Managers might like to assume that every team member loves their job, but this mindset is not exactly realistic. There are dozens of factors that can affect how an employee feels about their current role and responsibilities, such as:
- the manageability of their workload;
- the degree of challenge they experience throughout the workday;
- the effects they see from the work they complete;
- the comfort they have communicating with their peers and superiors;
- the satisfaction they gain from their position or career field; and
- the support they have in pursuing career goals.
Managers should try to talk to individual employees about their career well-being on a regular basis.
Similarly, performance reviews offer the perfect opportunity to discuss employee goals and fulfillment. Managers can work with employees to develop plans for improving career well-being over the next period. In the meantime, managers can utilize employee recognition programs to keep workers happy and engaged with their jobs.
2. Social Well-Being
Does an employee have meaningful relationships inside and outside of work?
Humans are hardwired to make social connections. When their social needs are not met, they tend to develop severe mental and physical health conditions.
Likewise, deep and authentic connections help people feel regulated in their emotions, which leads to more productive behavior at work.
Managers have little input over how employees develop relationships outside of the workplace. However, managers can help create and maintain relationships amongst coworkers. It’s easy to organize inexpensive events where employees can spend time getting to know one another on a deeper level, like cocktail hours or office breakfasts.
For the sake of social wellbeing, it is also wise for managers to push for family-friendly employment policies. These include plenty of parental leave, ample sick days, flexible scheduling, and perhaps a stipend for childcare.
3. Financial Well-Being
Does an employee feel that they can meet all their financial commitments?
Work provides a sense of purpose and a reason to grow and improve — but most importantly for many workers, work offers financial income.
Employees rely on their wages to pay for everything from their shelter and clothing to their food and fun. As a result, if a position does not provide a livable wage, it is likely that employees will not bother to remain in that position for long. Managers will suffer from high turnover rates.
Managers cannot and should not express too much interest in how a worker administers their personal finances. However, managers nonetheless have a significant amount of power in improving their team’s financial wellbeing, such as:
- paying a wage consistent with position and skill level;
- personalizing employee benefits to individual employee needs and wants;
- offering company stock to employees and/or matching purchased shares; and
- covering the costs of tools and services used by employees, like tech devices and phone plans.
4. Physical Well-Being
Is an employee suitably healthy to manage their daily work responsibilities?
Various laws protect worker well-being within the workplace. Still, an employee’s physical safety is not exactly the same as their physical well-being. Likewise, a lack of access to nutritious foods and insufficient time to devote to exercise can lead to physical health conditions that make work more difficult.
It should go without saying that checking on an employee’s physical well-being is not synonymous with acting on an anti-fat bias. Weight has essentially nothing to do with physical health. As a result, larger employees should not be subjected to any type of harassment or discrimination due to a manager’s interest in their team’s physical wellbeing.
Instead, managers can help support physical well-being. They can do this by working with business leaders to offer on-site fitness centers. Similarly, they can offer gym membership benefits and healthy workplace snacks and lunches.
Managers have a duty to keep their employees happy and healthy. However, by checking on worker well-being in these four categories, managers can develop teams who are deeply satisfied and incredibly productive.