Five Ways Business Leaders Can Make A Meaningful Difference To Employee Wellbeing And Happiness

Business leaders recognize that employees are the driving force of a business, and research shows that businesses with happier staff are more productive, more efficient, and more effective.

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As we step into the new year, many business leaders are thinking about what lies ahead, looking at how to make their businesses even more successful, in 2023. While we may often think of success purely in terms of profit margins, there are numerous other areas that dictate how successful our business really is, including, innovation, recognition, reputation, customer satisfaction, and staff morale.

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Business leaders recognize that employees are the driving force of a business, and research shows that businesses with happier staff are more productive, more efficient, and more effective. This naturally results in higher quality work being produced, and, ultimately, more business being done.

So, what can entrepreneurs and leaders do to make a meaningful difference to employee wellbeing and happiness? Here are five simple steps, and it is as easy as ABC- and not forgetting D and E!

A. ALIGNED THINKING When leaders are clear with their objectives, and there is a strong sense of synergy between managers and staff regarding targets and goals, happiness and high-performance thrive. Make sure everyone is on board, and that they are rowing in the same direction. You need everyone on the same page to create a cohesive workforce, and when staff are clear which direction they are going, they are then able to push ahead, and tackle any challenges collectively along the way.

B. BURNOUT With the rise of hybrid and remote working, it is becoming more difficult for leaders to spot the non-verbal signs of burnout in their teams. Without day-to-day, in-office contact, leaders may struggle more to spot changes in their employees' behavior and wellbeing. Stay alert to staff that are burning the candle at both ends, and make it your goal to schedule regular check-ins with employees. Your team's wellbeing needs will be as diverse as each individual, so make a concerted effort to find out how you can support them. If they are clearly overworking and are overwhelmed, try and take some of the strain off. Help them plan their work more with realistic goals and deadlines. It is important, as leaders, to make sure your team feels psychologically safe to discuss their wellbeing with you, and that you recognize they are working hard. However, you shouldn't be their only port of call for wellbeing support. Hold team workshops on stress and burnout, so that every employee knows the signs, and they can then offer a helping hand if they notice a colleague struggling.

C. CULTURE Workplace wellbeing isn't simply a set of activities. It's a lived experience; the way employees, teams, and leaders communicate and interact with one another. It's culture. The culture of an organization is the vital foundation block for staff morale and happiness, and in turn, success. Leading from the front, you must be open, even vulnerable with your staff. We all find it uncomfortable to discuss our weaknesses and difficulties, but being transparent and sharing your challenges as a business leader and entrepreneur sets an example for your team, allowing others to feel comfortable enough to open up. Create a culture that allows people to share ideas without fear of judgement, be rewarded, and not feel afraid to fail. Go one step further, and encourage failure in your teams. Once your staff learn to embrace failure as an inevitable possibility of taking risks and trying different approaches, they will develop a resilient mindset, and feel comfortable and confident to share their mistakes, and work to overcome them. This ultimately nurtures a happy and healthy culture of problem-solving, not blame.

D. DECISION One of the main requirements of a leader is to make difficult, high-pressure, and often time-sensitive decisions. Leaders and entrepreneurs must always take into consideration the effect these decisions will have on the driving force of the business– their staff. Avoid changing direction every five minutes. This is especially true with startups. The inevitable volatility of setting up and getting a new business on its feet can easily trigger the need to make sharp u-turns, which can often create confused and unhappy staff. Make clear decisions about the direction and work that needs to be done from the start. If there is a chance that this may need to be scrapped, it is imperative that leaders let their teams know in advance that there may be a change of course after a defined length of time.

E. EDUCATION Fostering the thirst for knowledge in your team is an invaluable tool for any business. Empower your staff to be more- i.e. learn and get new qualifications that will both promote their personal development, and contribute to the overall value of the business. Often, companies are fearful of educating staff with the view that they will take the training, and move on to a new company. That may be the case, but the employees who stay will be more useful to you, as they will feel valued, and that you want them to achieve. They will ultimately feel better about themselves and their skills, which will boost their wellbeing, increase their happiness, and motivate them to perform at their best.

For a business to thrive, it must continue to adapt in an ever-changing environment. This includes constantly striving for the best workplace wellbeing– to maintain a high level of team coherence, individual employee motivation, and psychologically-safe company culture, in order to attract and retain happy and high-performing talent. As a leader preparing for the journey through 2023, make employee wellbeing and happiness a top priority, and watch your teams -and business- flourish.

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