Organizational Culture

Improving Employee Well-Being: How Your L&D Program Can Help

Businesswoman resting drinking coffee in her home office

One of the biggest contributing factors to an employee’s productivity is their well-being. When employees are run down, stretched thin, and overworked, their productivity declines. Workplace well-being can be affected by many aspects, including too much screen time, life stress and anxiety, lack of exercise and poor physical health, or bad work-life balance.

So, what measures can employers take to make sure employees are healthy as well as productive? Below we’ve listed some tips for improving your staff’s well-being.

Building Well-Being into Your L&D Program

Employee well-being is suffering. Often a company’s learning and development department focuses training solely on the skills the employees need to get their job done; however, another important part of training is the skills and habits employees need overall in life. 

At the heart of all L&D strategies should be an employee’s well-being, which in turn creates a long-lasting, productive relationship with the employer.

In the rest of this article we’ll touch on several different areas that contribute to overall well-being, and give you ideas for how you can use your L&D program to help employees improve their habits and skills in each of these areas.

Digital Well-Being

Technology is part of every aspect of our lives today. It often is so prevalent that it takes over employees’ lives. Everyone should have the opportunity to disconnect from technology and work (which we’ll dive into later with work-life balance).

Here are some tips to teach employees how to step away from technology, as well as healthier social media habits to improve their digital well-being.

Walk: Motivate employees to recharge and take a break from their screens by having them add a 10 to 15-minute walk to their daily schedule. This can be a walk outside or if employees are working in the office, a walk up and down the stairs. Have them do whatever works for them that gets them away from their electronics for a bit.

20-20-20 Rule: Another way to preserve your team’s eyesight is to introduce the 20-20-20 rule: After 20 minutes of staring at a screen, look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Microlearning: Encourage employees to swap aimless social media scrolling for watching a short video that interests them in your online training library.

Take a Break From Meetings: Introduce a “no meeting day” one day a week. For example, declare Wednesdays a day without any regularly scheduled meetings. This gives employees a break from being on video chat and they can get other tasks accomplished.

Did you know? It takes employees an average of 23 minutes to get their focus back to the project they were originally working on, post-meeting.

Focus on Close Friends: Social media is a great way to connect with long-distance friends, but it doesn’t always provide the same interpersonal relationships as in-person ones do. Encourage employees to think of something special or unexpected they could do for a close friend.

Digital Detox: Educate your employees around the benefits of a “digital detox,” which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a break from devices. They’re most effective as a multi-day break, but some people find starting with 24 hours more manageable. Those who try a digital detox emphasize the benefits of unplugging, citing increased productivity, creativity, and more meaningful connections with loved ones, better sleep, and fewer aches and pains.

Emotional Well-Being

Employees face emotional challenges in their life that may affect their work. This can be everyday or unexpected stressors, such as dealing with significant change. Anyone can experience stress and anxiety, so you must stay alert to signs your employees may give off.

Signs to watch for in employees are physical complaints, a decline in productivity, increased anger, sadness, worrying, and frequently complaining about being tired.

Join us for this complimentary webinar, and we’ll help you get started with a development plan for your leaders, managers, and key employees to help improve emotional intelligence (EQ) across your organization, proving that understanding emotions is the key to long-term leadership and organizational growth.

Here are some tips on how your managers can help employees improve their emotional well-being.

Employee/Manager Check-ins: Employees perform better when their company supports their emotional wellness. The easiest way to implement this is with regular manager and employee 1-on-1 meetings to create a culture of transparency and trust.

EQ and Mindfulness Training: EQ and mindfulness training is beneficial for all employees. For emotional well-being, it is especially important to teach the aspects of self-awareness and self-management.

Take Time for Self-Care: Remind employees to drink lots of water and eat healthy foods. Also, encourage employees to take a break from work to walk or help children with homework. These should be reminders to prioritize overall well-being over everything else.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP): With an EAP in place, employees are connected to confidential, professional assistance to help with personal, family, and work issues. These are usually free to the employee.

Mental Health Resources: Companies should make a list of mental health resources like therapists, psychiatrists, suicide hotlines, or meditation and yoga classes to distribute to employees.

Resilience Training: Workplace stress and anxiety can be reduced by coaching employees to increase their resilience. This program can be facilitated in a few different ways and boost employee productivity and retention.

Mental Well-Being

The mental health of an employee is crucial to their overall health. Poor mental health can lead to a range of physical illnesses as well as burnout and a lack of productivity.

Many techniques used to improve emotional well-being apply to mental well-being also. In addition to those listed above, we have a few more.

Assess Workplace Stress: Periodically assess workplace stress through appropriate surveys and begin to plan programs based on survey results.

Address Issues in the Workplace: Address all issues brought up in the surveys and implement plans to fix or improve them.

For more information on reducing workplace mental health issues like anxiety and burnout, read “Addressing Employee Mental Health Issues in the Workplace.”

Support Those with Mental Health Struggles: Employees are your most valuable asset. Providing adequate support services to employees allows them to benefit from counseling and helps develop interventions to better their mental health.

Physical Well-Being

Just as an employee’s emotional or mental well-being can affect their productivity, so can their physical well-being. It’s not only being healthy but having the energy and vitality to complete everyday tasks. Workplaces should aim to educate employees on the knowledge and skills needed to spark healthy habits.

Standing Desks: Not all offices have the accommodations for standing desks, nor do some of those working from home. However, if your organization can, provide your employees standing desks so they can stand to stretch their legs throughout the day while still being productive.

Gym Discount: You can’t make employees go to the gym, but you can encourage it by having a gym on-site or providing gym memberships or fitness class discounts to employees.

Healthy Snacks and Drinks: Swap junk food and soda for healthy snacks and drinks in the vending machine.

Reasonable Work Schedules: Ensure reasonable work schedules are in place that allow employees to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

Health Insurance: Offer multiple opportunities to learn about the details of your health insurance plans, so employees understand what is available to them.

Ergonomics Training: Provide ergonomics training to reduce discomfort and injuries that can happen in any role, whether it’s a desk job or one with all-day movement.

Mindfulness Training: Utilize breathing exercises and meditation to release physical tension.

Get creative with these ideas and survey employees to see what they would find most helpful to improve their physical health.

Social Well-Being

Social well-being is an employee’s interpersonal relationships with people inside and outside of work. In the workplace, it’s relationships with coworkers, management, as well as the overall culture of the organization. Outside of work, it’s the relationships the employee has with their friends, family, and the ability to commit to social events without fear of it clashing with work. Social interactions boost mental and emotional health and productivity.

Manager Training: Encourage managers to get to know employees on a deeper level than just business-related topics, goals, and objectives.

Welcoming Culture: Providing employees with a welcoming culture will make them feel “at home” in the organization. Not only does having friends in the workplace help social well-being, but also employee retention. It has been proven by SHRM, that 62% of people with one to five friends at work say they would reject a job offer to work somewhere else.

View this webinar where BizLibrary’s Director of Talent Development & Learning Culture, Libby Mullen-Eaves, shares secrets on how to keep company culture strong.

Work-Life Balance: Provide flexible schedules so employees have time for friends and family outside of work without feeling like they are neglecting their job.

EQ Training: Managers can facilitate EQ training for their employees. This helps people to have a happier home life, since developing EQ improves interactions with family, friends, and roommates.

What Can Managers Do to Help With Employees’ Well-Being?

A manager’s job is to support their team members, and this includes their mental health and well-being. In fact, managers are one of the most important drivers of how supported employees feel, which in turn makes them more engaged.

Managers can make a difference in employee health and well-being by listening, clearing roadblocks, providing support and encouragement, and offering learning opportunities. This can be done by implementing an employee well-being program and well-being conversations.  

Well-Being Program: This program can be in the form of employee training, staff seminars, or working with an outside provider of wellness programs. The program combines the initiatives from the above recommendations and puts them into place. Steps to launching a program like this are:

  1. Set goals that will benefit the entire organization.
  2. Set up a dedicated team.
  3. Identify needs to be addressed.
  4. Make a plan.
  5. Launch the program and communicate it to employees.
  6. Request feedback and make adjustments as needed.

Well-Being Conversations: It is essential to check in with employees regularly to understand how they’re doing. Make well-being the focus of manager and employee one-on-one conversations when they have them. These confidential conversations can be difficult for managers to get used to; however, the more conversations they have the more they’ll understand strategies to help the team work better.

For more insights on how to improve the well-being of employees in your organization, check out this ebook on mental health in the workplace:

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Caroline researches and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. She looks at L&D and HR issues and industry trends and helps them understand how to create better training programs that grow their employees and their business.