Self-care has become a hot topic in the media as people are trying to be more intentional about taking care of their mental and physical health. It is both the right and the responsibility of the employee to take care of themselves, but employers can take steps to ensure their employees feel comfortable doing what they need to do. Often, simply knowing that the employer cares and tries to help is enough to instill loyalty and inspire motivation in employees. It is important to remember that each employee is different, and every job is different, but some things transcend the differences. No matter what, every employee needs to be physically, mentally, and emotionally fit for their role.
Office workers who sit at a computer all day may need a periodic break to stretch and move around; health studies have shown that simply standing and walking a few dozen steps every 20 to 30 minutes dramatically increases an individual’s energy level as well as having long term health benefits. An employer should communicate that they know this and promote that 1 to 3-minute break to help their employees get better work out of the rest of their time. Mental stress can also be reduced by having these mini-breaks incorporated into the workday.
Health and wellness committees at different companies can really help to improve and promote self-care in the lives of their fellow employees. Some programs that are popular are: lunchtime walkers, diet support groups, etc. These types of initiatives show that the employer appreciates their workers and cares about their general well-being. A great way to encourage team and relationship building among the workforce is to have these programs be employee led. This is an area which has strong influence over employee retention.
Another area for self-care improvement is the stress induced by having personal business which must be postponed or delegated due to lack of available time. Giving employees an area and some time to make private calls or do online work for personal business, awards points to the employer too. This does not have to be much time either! Just 5 to 10 minutes a day to call a doctor or dentist, order a gift online, or fire off a quick note to a teacher from a personal email, can be the difference between feeling stressed by the job and feeling appreciated. People will take this time anyway, but by making it official is what counts for happy employees.
Finally, offer help with career coaching and planning for the future. No matter what the age of the employee, they are considering their future whether it is at the company or elsewhere. Smart employers recognize this and make available resources that may not even be directly related to the employee’s current role. Bringing on-site a short seminar or class is what shows the employer actually cares about employee growth. Examples of this might include hosting a Toastmasters group, bringing in a financial planner for a seminar, small scale technical seminars, or classes; all show commitment to growth for the employee. Even try hosting a local college or trade school fair where employees can see what educational opportunities are available and negotiating a discount for company employees is often quite easy. The key to incorporating self-care into the workplace is to be obvious and intentional about any programs supported by the company that are meant to help their employees.