We spend a lot of our time at work, or working, so it should come as no surprise that our work environment can have a significant impact on our state of wellbeing.
How we feel about our work, and the pressures and stresses that our work can place upon us, will ultimately affect how we’re feeling. There are two angles I want to look at when it comes to Wellbeing at Work. One is how we manage our wellbeing as an employee, and the other is how employers and managers in the workplace can better support the wellbeing of those in their care.
Now, I use the phrase “those in their care”, because I feel that it’s the responsibility of all team leads to ensure that the wellbeing of their team is at the forefront of their awareness. Which leads me nicely on to the two types of manager that you’ll come across in the workplace - the boss, and the coach.
What’s the difference? A coach is the sort of leader who is consultative and facilitates those in their team to do their jobs well, whereas a boss will be more transactional and directive. I’m sure we’ve all had to work with a manager who’s quick to assign blame and put the responsibility of failure solely on the shoulders of the individual.
So as employers, as managers, we need to be coaches, and not bosses. We need to be collaborative, not dictatorial. We need to see things from the broader perspective, and understand the needs of those in our team so that we can get the best from them, and they can get the best from themselves.
As employees, we also have a responsibility for our own wellbeing at work. One of the main ways that we can do this is by communicating what we’re feeling. Granted, this isn’t always easy, and it’s much easier for some than it is for others, but if no one knows that we’re feeling under pressure, for example, or we’re struggling with a particular task, then how can they know to help and support us?
We also need to ensure that our work isn’t becoming the sole focus of our existence, that we’re taking time for our own wellbeing practises. That could be meditation, that could be getting out for a walk at lunchtime, or doing some exercise - it cannot be all about the stresses of strains of work, and nothing else.
Ultimately, we are solely responsible for ourselves, and it is up to us to make sure that we prioritise our own wellbeing, as much as it is for our employers to ensure that they facilitate a culture where our wellbeing is considered. It requires effort on both parts.
This is doubly important given that the past year has been a little strange when it comes to work. A lot of us have been working remotely, and this can cause the delineation between home and work life to become blurred.
We may be easier to contact now than we ever were, thanks to technology like Microsot Teams or Zoom, and we may be feeling as though our boundaries are being pushed upon by our employer. We might be getting messages later in the evening from our manager about things that need to be done tomorrow.
Dealing with that, again, is a two way thing. First, we can recognise that we can set boundaries. Talk to your manager about it, or if you feel you can’t do that, disable notifications on the app if you’ve got it installed on your phone.
As team leads, we should also be aware that our team might not be working to the same time frames that we choose to work ourselves. Just because something has come into our mind at 9pm and we need to send it out in case we forget, doesn’t mean that we should be reminding our employees about it. Set up a scheduled email, or shelve it until tomorrow.
I appreciate that you might be feeling that none of this is possible, because the culture where you’re working just wouldn’t roll with it. If you’ve taken the steps to communicate how you’re feeling, and nothing has changed, or it’s been met with disregard, then I have to ask you - is it time for a change?
Your own well being should always be a priority, and you should never ignore it because you feel that you don’t matter. You do.