Employee wellness programs have received a lot of attention from business experts, analysts and the media as a key factor in boosting employee engagement and performance. Yoga classes, company walking groups, healthy snacks and discounts on gym memberships are all some of the tools being used in these initiatives.
While these programs support and positively enable workers to live a more active and healthy lifestyle, the hectic schedules and weighty demands many American employees face can make it difficult for them to take advantage of these options. In an effort to rectify this problem, many HR departments are putting greater focus on self-care.
What is self-care?
“Communicating the value of proper sleep created higher employee engagement and clearer thinking.”
Citing a study from Sabine Sonnentag from the University of Konstanz in Germany, Harvard Business Review explained that establishing strict boundaries between work and home, encouraging relaxation practices like yoga and communicating the value of proper sleep created higher employee engagement and clearer thinking. The Harvard Business Review highlighted self-care as key to how HR departments can motivate employees. Self-care encompasses the larger culture in which employee wellness programs not only exist but are prioritized and situated. They are touted as beneficial to workers’ performance and well-being. When this messaging is embedded in corporate culture, the business results can be impressive.
Sleep, especially, is one of the more important factors in employee performance and one of the first to be cast aside. Studies have shown time and time again, though, that when individuals experience sleep deprivation, they suffer from impaired cognitive and motor functions.
Some businesses have launched initiatives to support their workers getting more sleep. Insurance company Aetna pays its employees $500 to sleep, challenging them to commit to seven hours per night. Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini explained to CNBC that sleep is critical for workers to be present in mind in the workplace and make better business decisions. Bertolini added that the company gained 69 minutes of worker productivity per month as a result of its wellness programs.
How to encourage self-care
Important to the success of any self-care initiative is goal setting and instant feedback. This can be as simple as creating a daily, weekly, monthly or annual list of priorities, which can help employees minimize distractions to focus on their goals. However, leaving these goals to a few sticky notes or a worker’s personnel file can result in a loss of motivation or forgetting the goals ever existed. Fortunately, HR departments have increasingly sophisticated and efficient tools for managing these initiatives.
HR departments are critical to these efforts, not only as a means for encouragement but as a mechanism for accountability. Utilizing goal setting software, HR professionals can help employees see their progress in an open and collaborative manner that can help them stay motivated. Goal-setting software also assists in providing individuals with real-time feedback and progress.
A culture of self-care helps employees better manage their time and resources while improving overall productivity and decision-making abilities company-wide.