Benefits and Compensation, Learning & Development

Building a Culture of Positive Self-Care

So much of our lives today are consumed by our jobs. Even when we leave the office, we can still carry the stress of our workday home with us. And over time, this anxiety and stress can start severely impacting our mental and physical well-being, both in our personal lives and at the office.

This is why it is crucial for employers to start making more of an effort to support employee well-being. We all need to take care of ourselves, and that need does not go away the second we walk into the office. Our needs exist no matter where we are, and if those needs aren’t met, it can negatively impact our ability to do our job and have a happy personal life.

So, let’s take a closer look at why self-care is so important in the workplace and how employers and HR teams can be more supportive of employee well-being.

Why Self-Care Is Essential in the Workplace

Many people assume that when they go to work, they have to switch over to a different mode—professional mode. But being professional at work does not mean you can just flip a switch and ignore your personal needs.

The more you try to ignore your personal needs at work, the worse you’ll end up feeling over time. Your mental and physical health will eventually start reacting poorly to this lack of care, which means you’ll be prone to getting sick more often and developing mental health issues.

The problem is that many employers don’t allow for self-care in the workplace, but this must change. If you want your employees to do a good job and be productive, you must allow and even encourage them to take care of themselves, both at the office and at home.

How HR Can Be More Supportive of Employee Self-Care and Well-Being

Many employers view their employees’ well-being as a personal problem that should be addressed outside of work. But if your employees start developing more mental and physical health problems due to a lack of self-care, it will start affecting job performance, which will impact the entire company’s performance in the long run.

Self-care is not a perk, and it should not be viewed as a handout for people who are “needy.” Having the time to take care of ourselves is a basic need—a basic necessity. It is therefore something all employers should acknowledge and make room for.

So, how can companies, and HR departments in particular, support employee self-care?

1. Honor Downtime

For many employees, there is no “time to breathe” during their workday or workweek. It’s all go, go, go until their head hits the pillow. But this can easily lead to crashes and burnout.

So, to prevent this from happening, employers can do more to encourage downtime. This can include:

  • Creating work-free zones at the office where employees can take a respite and turn off “work mode” for a few minutes;
  • Encouraging employees to take regular breaks and go on walks outside;
  • Offering a space where employees can stretch, meditate, or do some yoga at the office; and
  • Encouraging employees to log off early on Fridays to get a jump-start on their weekends.

2. Offer Flexible Work Schedules

One major issue with fitting in self-care is that employees today often work more hours than ever before. And not only that, but they also work long hours away from home, meaning they have a very poor work/life balance.

Unfortunately, data has shown that this trend of all work and no play can have severe health side effects. So, to allow for a better work/life balance, employers should offer flexible or alternative work schedules such as hybrid, telecommuting, or remote work options.

3. Provide Healthy Food Options

Eating healthy and having access to healthy foods are a form of self-care. By offering healthy food and snack options at work, you encourage employees to take better care of themselves. It also shows your employees that you genuinely care about their well-being, which motivates them to do better work and helps the company achieve its goals.

4. Make Ergonomics a Priority

Many employees spend a significant portion of their day sitting in uncomfortable positions, which can lead to more aches and pains and poor physical health overall. So, to keep your staff feeling better throughout the day, you can invest in more ergonomic furniture, such as chairs that provide better support and standing desks.

5. Provide Better Wellness Benefits

A major part of taking care of your employees is offering them good health benefits packages. But this shouldn’t only include the traditional health insurance options. You can also include discounts on gym memberships, massage benefits, access to health and wellness apps, and more.

6. Make Mental Health a Priority

In some ways, self-care can get a bad reputation. There is a growing phenomenon of self-care being promoted as a way to address mental health issues, and while the intention is good, the outcome can be harmful.

For example, things like going to the spa or doing a face mask might help someone feel better in the moment, but they should not be viewed as replacements for actual mental health treatment. Some of your employees might suffer from clinical anxiety and depression, which is not something they should feel ashamed of or be forced to hide.

So, as part of promoting self-care, you should also promote mental health awareness and encourage employees to seek professional help if they need it by offering access to mental health resources.

In Summary

These are just some of the countless ways employers and HR can better support employees’ mental health and well-being. What your company can offer might vary based on the resources available to you and your budget, but the overall goal should be to create a more positive culture of awareness and self-care.

If you encourage your employees to take better care of themselves and allow them to do so even while they are at work, they will be happier and healthier in the long run and more inspired to work harder to help the company achieve its goals.

Katie Brenneman is a Guest Contributor at HR Daily Advisor.

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