How happy are your employees, and why does it matter?
Since most people in modern Western society spend more time at work than with family or friends, maximizing pleasure and fulfillment from work experiences becomes increasingly essential. However, a recent USA Today poll says that only 51% of people are satisfied with their job. That is not a recipe for happiness, health, or well-being.
In the WeHeal methodology for health, Dr. Matthew Lederman and I have devised a plan for individuals to get to a place of “Life is Wonderful” by nourishing the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. Work is one of the nine pillars of well-being in WeHeal because finding job satisfaction is an important component of overall wellness. Employers have the opportunity to have an impact on creating an environment where workers can thrive.
Happy Workers, Better Output
For employers, happy employees are better workers, period. When employees are satisfied with their work environment, it leads to better overall health, productivity, and organizational success. Greater mental well-being, reduced stress levels, increased job satisfaction, and enhanced work-life balance lead to higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and a healthier workforce.
Even more important than the bottom line is the human connection and the care employers take for those working for them. Recognizing the profound influence of employee dissatisfaction and disconnection from their authentic selves on overall health is crucial for employers. When individuals experience dissatisfaction in the workplace, their bodies can enter a physiological state of inflammation. If this inflammation persists chronically, it can severely affect their health. Therefore, prioritizing employee satisfaction and promoting an environment where individuals can authentically engage can significantly contribute to their overall well-being and mitigate potential health risks associated with chronic inflammation.
Five Ways Employers Can Create a Positive Work Environment:
1. Nurture a Positive Work Culture
Companies that foster a positive work culture help improve their employees’ well-being. Creating an environment where people feel safe to communicate openly, collaborate on common goals, and be recognized for their achievements fosters positive relationships and makes employees feel like they belong. This leads to increased job satisfaction and reduced stress levels, which benefit mental and emotional health.
Try this: Establish clear expectations, invitem model and encourage open communication, and foster teamwork and collaboration while promoting a culture of mutual support, respect, and knowledge sharing. Encourage autonomy and decision-making whenever possible.
2. Endorse Work-Life Balance
The first step in promoting a healthy work-life balance is modeling the behavior. When employers work all hours of the day, nights, and weekends and don’t make time for self-care, play, or family it is hard for employees to trust they can do it differently. Opportunities for promoting a healthy work-life balance include flexible work arrangements, adequate vacation time and discouraging excessive overtime. These policies help employees maintain a sense of equilibrium between their professional and personal lives by giving them time to relax, engage in hobbies, and nurture personal relationships.
Try this: Lead by example by utilizing vacations and respecting employees’ time outside work.
3. Support Employee Wellness Programs
Employee wellness programs can increase job satisfaction, energy levels, and overall health outcomes for employees. Initiatives such as gym memberships, mindfulness sessions, counseling services, or health-related workshops demonstrate an organization’s commitment to employee well-being.
Try this: Talking about stress and mental health issues in the workplace reduces the stigma. Provide workshops on stress management and resilience.
4. Growth & Development Opportunities
Employers can help employees improve their skill sets and keep up with changing technologies by providing training, development, and advancement opportunities. Employers increase employee job satisfaction and self-confidence by offering opportunities for professional growth and skill development, positively impacting mental well-being and overall job engagement.
Try this: Show that you are invested in your employees and provide mentoring by regularly checking in with employees to understand their needs, challenges, and aspirations.
5. Encourage Social Connections.
A key to happiness in the workplace is also a vital aspect of joy in life – connection with others. Good relationships with co-workers and supervisors are critical components of workplace happiness. Find ways to foster connections in the office.
Try this: Celebrate success with a celebratory happy hour, volunteer together as a group, and foster camaraderie with an offsite retreat.
With clear communication, respect, empathy, and a continued drive to understand employees, any employer can find a way to bring greater happiness and wellness to their workforce. It’s work that is worth it!
Alona Pulde, MD, is a Family Medicine Physician and the co-author of Wellness to Wonderful, a down-to-earth book with relatable guidance and practical advice for a healthy and vibrant life. She is the Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of WeHeal, a virtual healthcare model built on their book’s nine fundamental pillars of health: self, nutrition, activity, play, sleep, family & friends, work, spirituality, and the natural world, with chapters dedicated to each of the model’s core pillars. Wellness To Wonderful aims to guide readers from the stress and chronic illnesses arising from living in survival mode to a dynamic, thriving, and optimized life that is truly Wonderful.