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Harness the Current

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Continuum Consulting Services LLC

Resilience. It has been the buzzword of the pandemic – the biggest test of resilience in our lifetimes for many of us. Times of ambiguity are one of the largest contributing factors to stress, and there is no more ambiguous time than right now. Not only have organizations had to exhibit extreme agility to adapt to environmental circumstances, but every individual contributor has experienced their own enormous shifts in the way they work as they seek to navigate the further blurred lines between work and life. 

And the turbulence wasn’t just limited to the pandemic. Through the past year-and-a-half, we have incorporated the fight for a more racially equitable society, numerous natural disasters, political turbulence, astronomical loss of life, nationwide grief and more into our normal day-to-day lives. 

Yet, for organizations and as individuals, the show must go on. And it keeps going on, making the need to prioritize well-being increasingly essential. Focusing on the well-being of each individual contributor is important not just to their health, but to their morale, productivity, and retention. It affects the overall organization’s health. 

So, with this consistently lingering need for extreme resilience, how can you be more conscious of your employees’ well-being? 

Leaders – The True Gatekeepers 

A lot can boil down to your role as a leader. According to research from the Mayo Clinic, the person an employee reports to at work is more important to their health than their family doctor. Leaders are the true gatekeepers. So, what can leaders do to keep employees healthy, productive and thriving?

Live by example

Whether intentional or unintentional, you are constantly role modeling behavior for your team. Ensure your behaviors mirror the work/life balance you hope to see in them.  For instance, instead of trying to hold it together all the time, you can discuss the challenges you are facing, helping to further normalize the conversation and building vulnerability-based trust. Make sure you also give yourself time to disconnect, actively taking vacation days or not sending emails after working hours.

Show Empathy

Reach out to individuals to sincerely check in on how they are doing. Take time to understand the circumstances, emotions and motivations of your employees. Practice your active listening skills to ensure you are getting to the root of what their needs might be. Discuss the trepidations they may be feeling or issues they may be facing inside and outside of work. 

Reframe conversations

What you focus on grows. Create generative and forward-focused conversations. Listen to what concerns someone is having but provide ample space to flip the conversation, clarifying what is needed and identifying possible solutions. So how can we flip this? It can be as simple as reframing the conversation more positively (for example changing the discussion from ‘challenges’ to ‘opportunities’ or moving from condemning to appreciating). 

Have open conversations about work

Actively strive to reduce ambiguity and increase transparency wherever possible. Make things as solid for people as they can be, even if that means just admitting you don’t know yet or that there isn’t new information. Keep the lines of communication open and ongoing. Have discussions around an employee’s workload wherever possible, noting what items are most important and being open to rebalancing it as needed. 

Integrate small well-being activities into the day

We don’t always need to take huge steps to practice better well-being habits. Small practices can create a culture of well-being. For instance, you can ask employees to take a walking meeting over the phone instead of in front of the computer. You can start your meetings with a quick mindfulness exercise or a positive check-in, giving people the space to connect and reflect. 

Know the resources

Whether it be employee assistance programs, well-being resources or other benefits offered by your organization, know what resources are available to employees (and yourself) and how and when to refer someone. 

These seemingly small gestures can and will make your workplace into a place people enjoy being and working in, whether virtually or in person. The care and humanity shown in your organizations form the key to how ready and resilient your team will be for whatever comes next. It takes practice, but you’re up to it.

Want to learn more about cultivating a culture of well-being as a manager or instilling better resilience tactics in your organization? Check out the Continuum Consulting Services Micro-Engagements. These short pieces serve to enhance camaraderie, build capabilities and enhance well-being. If this post interested you, the resilience package includes helpful modules including: Leading a Stressed Workforce, From Stress to Strength, Finding Balance, and Family as the Ultimate Team. 

By Morgan White

Morgan White is part of Continuum’s consulting team, bringing expertise in employee health, wellbeing and resilience. She’s a skilled facilitator and trainer, currently pursuing her master’s