More companies than ever are offering wellness programs for employees. These include a variety of initiatives from healthy eating and physical activity, to meditation and yoga, plus much more, such as stress management sessions. Yet stress and burnout have increased to alarming levels and few initiatives are specifically targeted for managers, which is a concern since findings indicate that managers are the most affected by stress and burnout in the workplace.
Left unaddressed, stress creates serious consequences for managers plus creates a significant negative ripple effect on employees, in fact increasing their stress levels and reducing levels of well-being, engagement and performance for all.
Being a senior executive or being a team leader are great responsibilities that come with tremendous pressures and demands. These pressures and demands often are 24/7 – an always on work environment – that adds to higher levels of stress. This stress is further compounded by dealing with a whirlwind of constant change and increasing competitive pressures – business competition as well as competition created within many work cultures and perpetuated by competitive performance evaluation ratings.
Many companies offer stress management as an element of the wellness program. Stress management sessions can be an essential component to enhance well-being; however, often these are one-time lunch-n-learn type sessions and therefore have significant limitations for any sustainable benefits. Plus, managers often do not participate in wellness programs and actually have a tremendous influence on whether or not their employees participate.
Another substantial concern is that stress and burnout are workplace and work culture issues, not individual issues. Building resilience definitely makes a difference; however, addressing workplace issues are vital for benefits to be sustainable. This is so essential that taking such actions should be first on the list!
Regardless, building resilience requires moving beyond a typical stress management awareness session to incorporate managing energy throughout the day plus targeting contributing factors including work issues in order to prevent stress and burnout. Findings indicate that when leaders practice simple techniques to improve their resilience, energy level, and well-being, habits are reinforced and make a significant difference. These habits range from self-care and healthy practices, to self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Research confirms that participants feel better, have enhanced well-being, more energy and are more productive.
What’s more, there is a positive ripple effect – employees of managers who complete a resilience and energy initiative report that their managers are better leaders and encourage employee well-being practices. These are surprise and unintended positive results.
Consider your energy levels at the end of your work day. After a few days, reflect on what you notice and how you feel. Also notice if you are able to let go of work issues during time off. Many tend to think working during time off is normal or that it is normal to feel stressed and exhausted at the end of the day. Sadly, most don’t even take the time to notice and question their energy levels and sense of overall well-being.
Here are a few tips to create new habits in order to enhance resilience and well-being. We are, well, creatures of habits. New habits take time to become automatic whereas old habits or usual ways of acting continue like clockwork. It is important to create rituals and frequent reminders to cement new habits until they become automatic. You’ll feel better, be a more effective leader, and your team will also not only notice, but be impacted as well.
- Get more ZZZzzzzzzz – Sleep is the foundation of building resilience and energy levels. How many hours of sleep are you getting and how restful is the sleep on most days?
- Pause and Reflect – Start your day by sitting quietly for a few minutes and turn your attention inward. Begin to become aware of how you are feeling, what you are thinking, and the levels of your energy.
- Practice relaxation techniques throughout the day to check in and note your thoughts, feelings, and energy level. Just pause for 6 seconds, taking a deep breath and turning your attention inward.
- Eat nourishing foods throughout the day, not skipping meals or eating too much at one time. Notice how you feel after eating certain foods or skipping meals and decide what helps you feel better and increases your energy levels.
- Socialize and make connections – both at work and in your personal life. We are social creatures and isolation negatively impacts our well-being.
- Move More – Add physical activity during work as well as after work. Physical activity increases energy levels and sense of well-being to prevent distress AND release stress.
- Practice gratitude – We’ve mentioned this in previous tips, but it’s worth repeating – attitude matters. Practicing gratitude improves well-being, lowers blood pressure levels, and enhances positivity. You will notice a shift after practicing for just 2 weeks. Just 2 weeks!
- Inspire others – Compassion, concern, and empathy towards others have a boomerang effect. You will feel better plus let go of your own worries.
- Unplug – Take at least a few evenings to unplug as well as unplug on days off – most if not all days off. Resist the urge to check or send emails. Time off – REAL and COMPLETE time off – is essential to refresh and recharge.
- Be a role model for your employees. Let your team see you taking lunch breaks, leaving the office on time, and working flexibly. And don’t send emails or other messages late at night — it signals that employees should be working at all hours. You will be a more effective leader and more productive.
- Plan extra time – Research has demonstrated that we’re overly optimistic about how long a task will take. Plan more time and encourage your team to block out extra time for projects. This helps reduce stress from unrealistic expectations.
- Be an influencer – Since stress and burnout are workplace and work culture issues, take a lead to address workplace contributing factors. This will have a greater influence on reducing stress and burnout than any initiative alone.
Want to really impact stress, prevent burnout, and enhance resilience, well-being, and performance? Plan an initiative that allows time spent on each of these components rather than a one-time stress management session. We are happy to discuss the best options for you. Please feel free to contact us.