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Beyond the 9 to 5: Prioritizing the Whole Employee

Creating a thriving and dynamic workplace goes far beyond the confines of a 9-to-5 routine.

In today's changing landscape, it has become abundantly clear that employees have a diverse set of needs, desires, and concerns that go deeper than what traditional workdays can address. That’s why it is crucial for employers to focus on the wellbeing of the "whole employee" in order to truly nurture the potential of every one of its team members.

What does “whole employee” mean? It’s thinking about the entire person—the human being with a life outside of your organization. Mental health, physical health, and financial health are all huge factors in a person’s overall wellbeing. We know one’s “after-hour” life can affect their focus and productivity, so it is in a company’s best interest to support the whole person’s development.

How is nurturing the “whole employee” successfully accomplished? It all starts with embracing mental health initiatives, offering flexible benefits packages, and fostering a vibrant team culture.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

We've all heard the saying, "Happy employees are productive employees"—and understandably, there is a lot of truth to it. We’ve seen the conversation around mental health significantly increase over the years, and it is the employers’ responsibility to better support their employees.

One way to do this is by providing direct access to resources that help them. Therapy, counseling services, and even mental health apps like Calm are all tools that can empower employees to cope with stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, stress comes from more than just work; addressing digital-age issues such as social media addiction is also essential to prevent employees from being tethered to their phones and feeding feelings of burnout.

Financial worries are not only capable of keeping people awake at night, but can also be just as distracting during the workday. No matter the stage in life—saving to buy a house, paying off student loans, looking to retire—financial literacy training is a skill everyone can benefit from.

Companies and organizations should also consider bringing in experts who can provide guidance to their team members that apps alone simply cannot do. These subject matter experts can help guide employees of all ages dealing with different scenarios or challenges in navigating the digital realm and help reduce personal distractions, making life feel more manageable.

Combating burnout also requires thoughtful consideration from managers to distribute workloads more evenly amongst employees. This way employers can ensure that no one team member is bearing an undue burden. A well-rested team tasked within their bandwidth is inherently more resilient and productive and are better equipped to cope with any challenges that may arise.

Perks That Make You Smile

The “one-size-fits-all” approach is no longer feasible in the modern workforce. As Gen Z enters the professional arena, it is clear that employees lead diverse lifestyles, which is forcing employers to adapt or face the challenges of being chosen last. The conventional 5 days a week, in-office setup may not be ideal for everyone and introducing accommodating work arrangements—like remote work options and flexible hours—can be transformative in enhancing the work-life balance experience.

Going a step further, offering unique perks like Doordash credits, Netflix subscriptions, and even laundry services can simplify employees' lives outside of work.

Gym access or memberships, on-site massages, nap pods, on-site flu shots, standing desks, and stability/sitting balls are just some of the ways to help better one’s overall physical health. Not to mention employers can benefit from lower healthcare costs when there is a focus on their employees' physical health. Simply put, employees perform better when they feel well physically.

Utilize social media platforms to communicate essential information, like assisting in navigating health insurance and personal finances, to provide an additional layer of support.

Employee Engagement and Culture

Work unfolds both within and beyond office walls. Employee engagement isn’t just about mere job satisfaction; it's about fostering a sense of belonging and connection to the company's mission. Simple factors such as job satisfaction, relationships with colleagues, and time off are indicators of engagement—but it runs deeper than that. For example, employers can help their teams better mesh in a company culture through mentorship programs, which provide guidance to younger team members to facilitate their professional growth. By implementing the most fitting initiatives, employers can empower their employees to find their place within the organization, fostering long-term confidence and belonging.

For a healthy and safe work culture, consider providing effective safety and compliance training. Soft skills training (time management, leadership skills, communication, conflict management, etc.) can help people identify and address problems both at work and at home.

Encouraging strong team dynamics both during and outside working hours contributes to building a more cohesive team. By regularly monitoring employee retention rates, employers can track their progress in building employee engagement and satisfaction. Beyond offering perks, it's vital to establish a company culture that makes employees feel like valued team members within an organization that genuinely cares about their needs, desires, and long-term goals.

It’s no secret that the workplace is changing, and many organizations are successfully adjusting by acknowledging that there is much more to life than the daily clock-watching routine. By focusing on the whole employee, employers can build and maintain a happier, healthier, and more productive team. It's a win-win for everyone—and it's about time!


Read Scott's Lessons from Ted Lasso on Employer-Sponsored Mental Health to learn more about the positive impact supporting your employee's mental health can have on your business.