We are often taught the importance of teamwork from a young age, and as we grow older, we extend this notion by portraying ourselves as team players in the office.  This is especially true for Canadians, as we are conditioned to be polite and always help each other out, even though we may not have the time or bandwidth to do so.  For some people, they may become overwhelmed or stressed to the point where their mental health starts to suffer.  As HR managers, it’s important to understand that our employees are only capable of doing so much, and we should empower them to take care of themselves through self-care strategies in and out of the workplace.  Not only is self-care good for your employees, but it’s also good for your organization.  A happy and healthy employee will be more productive, have better relationships with their colleagues, and will be more satisfied with their job than those who don’t practice self-care. 

As self-care can involve several different strategies, I’ve outlined some applicable to the workplace so you can share them with your employees.

Setting boundaries and learning to say no

The act of saying no to someone can be one of the most difficult things a person can do, especially if it is to a supervisor or manager. Share with your employees that there are times when it is ok to say no. Ask them to clearly communicate their reasons for saying no and also if there are any circumstances in which they may change their minds. Allow your employees to communicate openly and honestly, making sure they have the appropriate resources and supports.  There are various reasons why an employee may turn down a request, so it’s best to discuss this with them so you can figure out the best way to support them.

Your employees may choose to set other boundaries at work, including not working overtime or staying late, taking earned vacation, requesting personal days off, or requesting compensation for workplace expenses.  While you may have certain expectations of your employees, always rely on the principle of “reasonableness” when evaluating an employee’s boundaries.  

Recognizing needs

We all have different types of needs, including physiological, safety, social, and self-esteem needs.  While you can’t control the actions of others, you can promote a healthy workplace by encouraging your employees to take breaks, exercise, and refuel their bodies.  I also recommend incorporating different wellness activities into your organization to create bonding experiences with your employees while promoting mental and physical wellness.  

It’s also important to also take into consideration the unique needs of your employees.  With so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, your employees may request certain accommodations based on childcare, safety concerns, etc.  I encourage you to be empathetic during these times and accommodate your employees to the best of your abilities. 

Setting and achieving goals

Achieving goals can be a challenging process, especially when it relates to performance reviews in the workplace.  For this reason, I recommend taking a collaborative approach to goal setting in your organization.  Encourage your employees to create a list of their professional goals and meet with them to discuss if and how these goals can be achieved.  Your employees will be more motivated to succeed if they are working towards achieving their own goals in addition to goals set by the employer.

By supporting and empowering your employees and taking the appropriate steps to help them maintain their mental health and wellbeing, you’re helping them embrace self-care in the workplace.  If you’re interested in learning more about self-care strategies, contact your EAP provider to access mental health resources, services, and certified counsellors who can help you on your wellness journey.