We’ve been discussing the topic of wellness this month and the importance of leaders managing their stress. Today, I’d like to review another important topic related to wellness, which is how leaders can create a culture of positivity for their employees. Wellness cannot exist in a culture that is negative or toxic, which is why leaders must foster the right workplace environment. With the daily demands of leadership, it can be challenging to keep a positive outlook and approach. I know—I find it hard some days, too. So, here are some easy ways that you, as the leader, can create a positive work environment—one that will make your people feel better.
1) Create Opportunities to Pause and Reflect on Work: Leaders should carve out opportunities during the day or week where their employees can pause and reflect on their work. Employees can reflect either at the start of the shift where they spend a few minutes thinking about what they want to accomplish that day or what they achieved yesterday. They could also reflect for a few minutes at the end of the shift by discussing how the day went. Managers should use this important time to listen and consider how they can help enable or empower their people better for the next day or in the future. By using this time, managers can help employees feel connected to their work and realize that their work matters.
2) Ensure Employees Take Breaks: Employees need to have opportunities to take breaks throughout their shift or day. Our body and mind are designed to perform at its fullest capacity for only about 90-120 minutes before it needs a short break. So, managers need to plan and schedule their people to take breaks, but, more importantly, leaders must help guide them on what makes a break effective. Research suggests that breaks should include a few minutes to stretch or adjust posture, eat a light snack, take a walk outside, drink some water, and take a few deep breaths. These short breaks are a great way for employees to get a quick mental and physical boost for their day.
3) Know the Three Things Your Employees Are Most Grateful For: Leaders can create opportunities for meaningful conversations by understanding what their employees are grateful for. Engaging with employees on topics important to them is a great way to show that they are cared about as an individual, not just an employee. Leaders can also use this information to support employees in finding the right work/life balance. For example, if you know that your employee values spending time with their family, consider how you can adjust their schedule from time to time to allow for this. While this may not always be possible, supporting employees in what is important to them will increase the employee’s gratitude for their leader and their job. Ask yourself if you know the three things your employees are most grateful for and whether or not that information is being used to its fullest effect.
4) Have Employees Share How They Have Made a Difference: Each week, ask each employee on your team how they impacted someone positively or what was the most meaningful thing to happen to them. By asking either of these questions, it forces employees to reflect on their actions and reinforces how each person can make a difference for others through their job.
5) Ask and Reinforce Why Your Employees Love What They Do: All too often, employees go through the day-to-day motions of the job without reflecting on why they love what they do. By asking employees why they love what they do, leaders are re-connecting employees with their sense of purpose and contribution. Leaders can reinforce why employees love what they do during challenging times. This reminder will help employees focus on the positives of their job, helping them push through any hard times. This mentality shift helps employees see the big picture and feel a sense of appreciation for their job. Keep in mind that people can fall out of love. If an employee cannot easily answer this simple question, then it might be time to consider some changes—whether the work needs to change or the employee who struggles to love what they do.
6) Create Opportunities to Have Fun: Create regular opportunities for your team to have fun. Whether it is a team lunch, playing games, or creating friendly competitions, infusing fun into the work environment helps lift everyone’s mood and leaves employees feeling refreshed. We have seen managers share brain games, cartoons, (appropriate) jokes, movie clips, or ask stupid questions to get a few laughs from the team. Plenty of online resources are available to help guide your efforts.
7) Provide Positive Feedback to Your Team Each Week: Share your appreciation for your team regarding things they did well. Positive feedback makes employees feel as though their efforts are noticed and appreciated. It reinforces the type of behavior you want your team to display. Make sure to give feedback consistently each week, even if the week didn’t go as planned. As a bonus, the leader providing positive feedback will also feel a sense of appreciation for the hard work that their team does.
As a leader, you must not only take care of yourself but also create opportunities for your employees to feel good about what they do and for whom they do it. Building positivity within your team’s daily and weekly routines improves wellness, reduces stress, increases productivity, enhances performance, and creates all-around happier employees. All of this is about building the right type of team culture—something every manager must do.