As the past two years have turned “burnout”, “The Great Resignation”, and “mental health” into regular workplace vernacular, companies across the country have had to evaluate how they treat their employees. More than technology, workspace, or specific expertise, leaders have finally realized that their people are their greatest asset.
Yet, as leaders, we have to pay attention to the climate we face right now. According to one global study, 42 percent of employees have experienced a decline in mental health over the course of the pandemic. 67 percent of that decline is due to increased stress.
While for the past two years, the focus was on survival, in 2022, we need to refocus on thriving. The number one way to do that? Your efforts for business growth should center around making your workplace a positive environment for your employees.
Prioritize Your Employees’ Mental Health
In 2022, companies will be expected to invest in the mental health of their employees. Though it might cost a little more for the time being, or you might not feel like you have the time for it, in the end a focus on mental health pays off considerably. Your employees will feel better overall, allowing them to feel present more often and be more motivated and productive.
One way to do this is making sure the company offers mental health benefits. Then, release the stigma so often attached to the subject. Be forthcoming with your own experiences, and listen to the stories of your employees. Build a community of support within the company in which all members know they are heard and valued.
Focus on DE&I Initiatives
We’ve all heard how increasing the diversity amongst employees and leadership are surefire ways to be more productive, innovative, and creative. In fact, according to McKinsey, companies with the most gender diversity were 25 percent more likely to experience higher profits than those without it. Often, however, though we know the benefits, so many companies neglect to take the steps necessary to diversify their organization.
In the new year, attempt to rid the talent search process of bias, instead focusing on the more objective data. In addition to hiring, this should also be the focus when promoting or evaluating current employees. Form a team, if necessary, to focus on DE&I initiatives and track their implementation. The benefits of a diverse workforce are too rich to put off.
Create an Attractive Work Environment
The Great Resignation doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and in the wake of a current talent shortage, ensuring you attract and retain employees is likely something you are already thinking about. Though not always, for many workers, the choice to leave is due to burnout. Therefore, considering ways to let your employees know you care about their lives, at home and at work, can go a long way.
Promoting open communication between leadership and employees allows all members of the work community to feel valued. This, all on its own, increases employee loyalty to the company.
In addition, consider:
- rewards or perks that focus on employees’ lives outside of work
- social events for all workers to engage on a more personal level
- making sure you do all you can to keep work obligations to work hours
These simple steps will make your employees feel more appreciated and more connected overall.
Lead with Empathy
All of these practices come down to one major focus: empathy. Simply leading with empathy forms a team that is more engaged, productive, and innovative – not to mention increased employee morale.
Showing empathy for your employees is regularly putting yourself in their position and seeing things from their point of view. When you develop a practice of empathy in your leadership, you are not just pleasing the people you work with. You are increasing the profitability of the company by ensuring your employees remain loyal.
In fact, in a recent survey, 76 percent of people who claim they have empathetic leadership also claim to be more engaged, compared to 32 percent of those with less empathetic leadership. As far as innovation, retention, and inclusivity, the survey showed similar results.
None of these suggestions are new. However, in the wake of the past 2 years, they are more important and urgent than ever before. As you form strategies for business growth this year, put your people first.
Reach out about how you turn your business into a thriving one by implementing these initiatives.