Employees look to their leaders for cues on how to model their behavior.
If leaders regularly send out e-mails in the evenings and over the weekends, it’s a near guarantee that their direct reports will feel compelled to read and respond to them. Not surprisingly, even when leaders explicitly say they don’t expect responses on late at night or on weekends, their actions speak louder than their words.
The “values” that shape organizational culture are not merely those values that are typed up and laminated for employees to tack up next to their computer monitors. These are the values that are deeply rooted and visible to everyone in an organization. If your organization states they “value” wellness and flexible work arrangements, this means your leaders must not only avail themselves of these values, they must also create visibility for their employees.
Ultimately, it does not matter how many policies and programs an organization may devise around well-being, if those at the top aren’t using them, then those attempting to climb the ladder will take this as a signal that they shouldn’t either. This sends a very strong signal to the rest of the workforce, as well. Having leaders provide well-being programs isn’t enough either. They need to use the options in a way that is visible to the rest of the organization, and they need to examine their role in providing an environment that supports well-being. Imagine employee well-being as a three legged-stool...
- Employee Skills and Resources...that "pyramid of well-being" discussed in this toolkit that provides resilience for the stressors inherent in one's work and home life, and stimulates growth and performance in both realms.
- Management/Leadership...that understanding of the responsibility to provide a healthy, nurturing environment for success, and sees people as the complex beings they are, not as robots to be "managed" by on on-off switch.
- Organization... that responsibility to provide structure and processes that aim to decrease stressors and minimize the accumulation of "pebbles in the shoes" that encourage people to "check-out" or leave. Organizations cannot just put the well-being responsibility on employees and managers, they must accept their role in the environment they create and sustain and engage with challenges at a fundamental level.
Create an Environment of Well-being
Consider the pickle jar analogy of an organization. A pickle doesn’t start out being a pickle. It starts out being a cucumber. It’s only because it’s in an environment of brine that it becomes something else. Too often we focus too much on the employee/person and assume that whatever is going on is because of what they did or failed to do, or they didn’t have the strength/courage/knowledge to overcome. We’re always looking at what happens to the person, and not focusing enough on the sources/causes. Coping strategies are useful—but they are only a part of the answer. Leadership and management can take action by providing and ensuring an environment of success which means identifying and exploring challenges, obstacles and overall culture.
“Don't tell someone if they can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. It's possible to change the conditions in the kitchen, so that everybody is functioning well and getting great stuff out.” The Burnout Solution
While it is essential to have the support of senior managers, the use of internal champions to communicate the well-being message is very effective in helping to embed well-being into the workplace. This requires the well-being message being made relevant to every level of the organization with champions and supporters openly encouraging their colleagues to greater achievements.
UC Experience Conversation...enhancing the workplace experience, one conversation at a time.
These are 1:1, broad-ranging conversations between employees and managers, focused on understanding and enhancing the overall workplace experience.
UC Experience Conversations are recommended to be held at least once a year. The conversations are encouraged, though optional, and ask both managers and employees to discuss a few questions of their choosing. A form of “stay interview,” UC Experience Conversations surface dialogue and action planning via a wide range of topics of importance to the employee, such as:
- Overall job Experience
- Wellbeing and work-life balance
- Career development
- Inclusion and belonging
- Manager support
These conversations can be included as part of ongoing 1:1 conversations between managers and employees, and are a valuable way for managers and employees to discuss new or shifted career aspirations and provide employees with an opportunity to discuss areas of importance to them.
Tools to Use for UC Experience Conversations
- List of Questions, Note-taker, Action Planner
- Guide to UC Experience Conversations
- Template to Invite Employees to their UC Experience Conversation
- Creating Psychological Safety by XpertHR
- Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being US Surgeon General
- Strategies to Improve Trust in a Hybrid World Gartner HR Research
- How to Eliminate Burnout and Retain Top Talent Gallup Workplace
- Beliefs about What Makes a "Good Job" Are Diverging Bain & Company Research
- A Manager's Guide to Mental Health Literacy Calm Business
- Managing Employee Burnout Tip Sheet Boston College Center for Work and Family
- A Manager's Flex Work Toolkit UC Davis WorkLife
Marcus Buckingham TV: Inspire yourself through exploring this series
Why Great Leaders Take Humor Seriously (TED talk)
The Value of Kindness at Work: James Rhee (TED talk)
The Cure for Burnout (hint: it isn't self-care) : Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
The Tim Ferriss Show (author of the 4-day workweek)
The Mindset Leaders Need to Address Burnout with Dr. Christina Maslach, UCB, Coaching for Leaders podcast
Create a Well-being Bookmark:
- Greater Good Science Center UC Berkeley
- grateful.org Check out the free (no ads) e-cards and the grounding video "A grateful day"