Employee burnout is one of today’s biggest trends — and that’s not good news. One study showed 85 percent of people have expressed a decline in well-being since the start of the pandemic, and another study found 67 percent believe burnout has worsened over the past year. It’s never been more important for organizations to prioritize employee well-being, and HR leaders can spearhead the effort to bring a change and make a difference. Sound expensive? News flash: This change doesn’t necessarily have to be a budget item.
Create social connection opportunities
Working in a virtual environment might mean fewer opportunities for social interactions with your colleagues. After all, you don’t bump into them in the office corridors or the kitchen anymore. But who said virtual get togethers aren’t fun? For success, make such opportunities regular but not mandatory.
1. Monthly birthday celebrations and new colleague welcomes create a perfect opportunity to celebrate people, learn something new about them, and create joint team memories.
2. Organize a lunch roulette that will match participants with a random colleague to share a 30-minute lunch. This will encourage your employees to build new relationships and cross-functional connections.
3. Friday happy hours. Make them themed for added fun.
4. At SoGoSurvey, we love staying connected through regularly scheduled conversations. On Mondays we set ourselves up for a successful week by talking about weekly goals and big things, and on Fridays we talk about weekly successes, challenges, and things we are looking forward to — both personally and professionally.
Leverage your workplace collaboration software
Many companies have collaboration software in their technology stack, such as Microsoft Teams or Slack. These are perfect tools to support employee well-being, too.
Whether it’s a virtual book club or an industry geek channel, find out what interests your employees and organize those opportunities for them to stay connected, whether they work in the same office, in different locations, or virtually. Here are a few examples that work wonders at real-life organizations:
5. Healthy lifestyle club for colleagues to motivate one another toward a healthy lifestyle. It’s more fun to work on those 10K daily step challenges as a group!
6. Pet lovers channel to exchange photos and anecdotes about our favorite furry and feathered co-workers.
7. Mental health channel. Encourage open communication about mental health and resilience! Create a forum for employees to share their feelings, support each other, and ask for advice.
Help people learn new skills
A great way to support your employees’ mental health is by encouraging them to learn something new. People engaged in learning report feeling better about themselves and a greater ability to cope with stress. Learning a new skill can boost self-confidence, and learning a new skill in a group setting makes people feel more connected.
8. Organize lunch and learn sessions on topics that will benefit your employees. Some ideas include time management, stress management, Excel or PowerPoint tips, or mastering social networks.
9. Start a Toastmasters club to build leaders from within your organization and help your employees develop strong presentation skills.
10. Start a mentoring program that will provide your employees with the opportunities to grow professionally by both learning new skills and spreading their knowledge. At the organizational level, an inclusive mentoring culture will promote learning, encourage sharing new ideas, and help employees to feel more connected.
11. If your employees are centered in specific locations, partner with local farms, parks, and libraries. These organizations offer so many resources for their members but could benefit from creating awareness among your employees. For example, my local Loudoun County Public Library, among other things, offers free access to LinkedIn Learning. Would your employees benefit from access to such a resource?
Have fun together — both virtually and in the office
Staying connected and having fun together cannot be over emphasized.
12. Spirit week. Yes, just like in schools, where spirit weeks help to create a sense of shared community among the students and educators. Grown-ups can have fun, too, with rocking their favorite team jerseys, crazy socks, or company colors. Such activities are sure to inspire laughter and reduce stress.
13. Leverage online assessments and quizzes. Sharing the results from fun quizzes on your employees’ favorite vacation spots will break the ice in your next all-hands meeting. Conducting your industry- and product-related “black-belt” assessments with appreciation prizes will boost product knowledge and brand loyalty.
14. Team building activities tied to what is happening in the world. At SoGoSurvey, we have recently conducted a multi-disciplinary SoGolympics. From the virtual opening and closing parades, to paper airplane competition and cornhole tournament, we got creative, created new memories, and bonded as a team.
Partner with your employees
Healthy company culture is crucial for employee well-being and retention. Building and maintaining such culture is not just HR’s work. To strengthen your culture and mazimize success, partner with the leadership team and empower your employees to play a role.
15. Identify areas that matter the most to your company and form cross-functional culture committees. Whether you decide to address corporate meeting culture, dress code, or transparent communication practices, you’ll get an improved work environment, employee buy-in, and greater employee satisfaction levels.
There is no doubt that the pandemic added to employee stress, anxiety, and burnout. But to fight it, we need to speak up and listen up. At the root of it, people want to be happy, and they want to work at a healthy, caring environment. And since there is not a unified definition for happiness in the workplace, you need to start with listening to your own employees!
Done right, listening (and hearing) will touch every employee, and it will yield early wins in terms of corporate culture, employee engagement, and retention.
Given the opportunity, employees will let you know what initiatives they’d like to see and be a part of. Cultivate a culture of listening with SoGoConnect, a business solution that brings a systematic approach to employee feedback. Request a free, no obligation demo today.