Most adults spend 30% of their lifetime at work, more than enough time for work to be a large contributing factor to an employee’s wellness. According to a survey of CEOs by Ginger, “80% believe that poor employee mental health negatively impacts employee productivity. Meanwhile, 95% of employees report that mental health support helped them feel more positive, less stressed, and more productive at work. As one employee shared, “It made me very productive to know employers cared… If I am valued, I want to offer that back.”” Happy, engaged employees can impact everything from turnover to your bottom-line.
Simply introducing a wellness program may not be the answer to ensuring employee wellness though, and it’s not “one size fits all.” First, we need to understand an individual employee’s relationship to work, and their feelings of fulfillment both with work and life. As employers it’s important to see our employees’ peaks and valleys in life and work, and how one impacts the other. We can ensure that our employees are getting what they need to be a successfully “well” employee when we have the whole picture.
Here at Kin, we’ve implemented some ways to help our leadership team better understand the nuances of an employee’s relationship to work (not to mention our own). These insights are helping us be more in-tune with our employee’s work, how it’s impacting their life, and visa-versa. Here are 4 ways to gauge employee wellness at work:
In a busy company, it’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day, task-driven work without time to stop and reflect. Suddenly, the stress piles up and leaves employees feeling overwhelmed without knowing why.
Checking in with employees at least once per week can help employees and leadership better understand an employee’s relationship with work. In a weekly check-in, employees can offer a summary of what they are working on, document successes and blockers, offer timely feedback, and jot down ideas before hand. Documenting check-ins allows employees some time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not, and over time can improve processes and decision making. Check-ins are also a great place to keep goals and objectives top of mind and record progress.
In practice, we use KinHR’s employee performance review feature to conduct frequent, informal check-ins. Each week, a manager and an employee enter their check-in into KinHR and discuss them during a set weekly meeting. A record of the check-ins are accessible to managers and employees to reference at any time.
“Having weekly one-on-one check-ins with each member of my team has been super helpful, allowing us to share feedback, ideas, questions, and thoughts, that we can act upon in a timely and relevant way, rather than waiting for quarterly or annual reviews, which may be too late. The regular check-ins we have, create a running conversation that continues from week to week, ensuring that we don’t lose sight of our goals and objectives. One of the best parts of having these regular checkin-ins, is that I get to know the team better on a more personal level, knowing their likes, dislikes and how they approach their work, helps me align the team for success and tailor my help and feedback for each person.” Tom Stanley, Managing Director at Kin
Regular wellness surveys
The best way to get an answer is to ask! Taking check-ins a step further, companies can implement a survey tool to ask employees how they are doing in and outside of work. Here are a few examples of questions we have employed to gauge an employee’s wellness:
- How fulfilling is your work?
- How are you feeling about life outside of work, in your family, community, or otherwise?
- How comfortable are you with your current workload?
- How is your stress level in general?
Getting answers to these questions (again, ideally with weekly frequency) has helped our leadership team better understand an employee’s balance between work and life. Once armed with the data, we can take action, which leads us to our next point…
Tracking trends over time
The importance of frequent check-ins and survey-taking are great on their own, but we have seen even more value to be had from tracking individual employee trends over time. Doing so has helped us see how an employee’s life and work ebbs and flows, and what support that employee needs through different scenarios.
Not everyone is going to be balanced at all times, and everyone handles pressures inside and outside of work differently. If someone has outside stressors, maybe that’s the time they like to dig in to work and focus more on something that’s not life (and visa versa). Another employee might be the opposite. There may be employees that are smooth sailing 99% of the time, and it’s hard to pinpoint those moments when they’re not.
Seeing trends helps our employees better understand their relationship with work, and helps our leadership team know who may thrive or struggle when certain work or life issues arise. Trends help everyone grasp a better understanding of wellness over time and what factors impact wellness.
Check-ins, surveying, and tracking trends when it comes to employee wellness all lead to better understanding of an employee’s relationship with work, and being able to anticipating the needs of employees through the peaks and valleys of work and life.
Consider a scenario where a large project is about to kick off. By looking back at similar situations and how employees reacted to them, we can anticipate who will need an adjustment period when a new project is beginning, and who might feel comfortable diving in. Employees are able to anticipate how a large project may effect them in life and make preparations to better absorb the impact and find balance.
“Since we changed up how we check-in with one another at Kin, I’ve had a much more holistic sense of how everyone is doing. Sometimes life outside of work is stressful and work becomes a solace of sorts (like during a pandemic!). Other times it’s the other way around. Knowing where everyone is on that push-and-pull continuum has made me a better coworker, and it’s shined a light on who our leadership team needs to help out, and how.” Craig Bryant, Founder and CEO at Kin
Caring about employee wellness beyond the standard wellness benefit offerings leads to a better understanding of an employee’s relationship with work. By taking steps to understand an employee’s wellness and how it impacts their work and life, a happier, balanced, a more fulfilled workplace can be achieved.