Self-care is a concept that took the world by storm. Gaining traction in the 2010s — and really picking up steam around 2015 — self-care is something that many people grasped onto in a world that felt increasingly chaotic.
On Instagram alone, there are nearly 24 million usages of the hashtag #selfcare, many alongside pictures of self-care moments, such as bubble baths, time in nature, or even eating a plate of french fries (or some other guilty pleasure). Self-care is a way to slow down and give back to yourself in a way that works for you.
Despite the fact that self-care seems to be everywhere, it’s less common at work. Not surprisingly, few people consider responding to emails, attending meetings, and conversing with clients to be self-care. But because work tends to take up the majority of our hours, self-care is often put on the back burner until the workday is over.
Meanwhile, employees are feeling burned out, overwhelmed, and downright exhausted.
It’s up to an organization’s leadership to encourage self-care to keep employees happy and healthy. In turn, employees remain productive and motivated at work.
At CareContent, self-care isn’t a buzzword — it’s a part of who we are. We recognize that taking some time to ourselves helps us perform better as a team. Here are 5 ways to encourage self-care on your team to benefit not just your employees, but also your company as a whole.
1. Establish online — and offline — hours.
Whether you’re a team of five or five hundred, establishing — and sticking to — set work hours can go a long way with self-care.
As many companies shifted from working in the office to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, people actually ended up working more hours than before. In the US, UK, Austria, and Canada, employees working from home worked an average of 2.5 hours more than before the pandemic.
As a team, establish hours when employees are expected to be available — and also when they can completely shut off — to avoid confusion and frustration. Outside of these set hours, there should be no expectation to respond to emails, attend meetings, or even put mental space into work.
2. But allow for flexibility when possible.
While set hours lead to consistency, also offer flexibility when you can to promote self-care.
Previously, commutes, drives to lunch, and the infamous “water cooler chats” broke up the day. Now, as employees sit in front of their computer at home, let your team take breaks when they need to. Allow your employees to attend a doctor appointment during the workday, take a long lunch every once in a while, or take a walk midday to unwind.
As long as your team is meeting deadlines, remaining productive, and communicating effectively, let them figure out how to get there.
3. Actually encourage taking time off.
These past couple of years have consisted of a lot of time at home — and very little time anywhere else. Due to COVID-19, many people canceled vacations, get-togethers, and other reasons for time off.
Unfortunately, this is the opposite of self-care.
Time off doesn’t have to be taken for just vacations. You can also encourage time off in other ways. You can standardize certain days off, such as half-day Fridays in the summer or mandatory birthdays off. Or, you can simply be vocal about letting your team know they can and should take time off, even if they’re just bingeing Netflix all day.
4. Have meaningful conversations about self-care.
The best way to know how your team is doing is to actually ask them. At CareContent, we are committed to getting honest feedback from all team members.
While we have our approach, there are plenty of ways to do this, such as surveys, one-on-one meetings, and round-robin check-ins during larger meetings. A combination of a few of these approaches can ensure you’re getting the information you’re looking for.
Go beyond asking them how they are — ask them what they need. What would help them practice self-care, maintain a work-life balance, and feel appreciated in their role?
Then, of course, it’s absolutely crucial to follow up on requests in a real way.
5. Set a self-care example for your team.
Everyone needs self-care, including business leaders. But practicing self-care will not only help you — it will also ensure your team knows self-care is a priority in your organization.
Whether it’s sticking to a morning workout, setting an email signature that identifies your online hours, or taking a mental health day every once in a while, make sure your employees know that you practice self-care.
Model the behavior you want to see in your workforce, support their endeavors, and then watch your employees thrive.
Small Gestures Lead To Big Changes In Self-Care
Even small gestures can make a big impact on your team. Give your team an extra day off around the holidays. Send out a small e-gift card with a note saying, “Coffee is on us this morning!” Or, just take the time to say “thank you” to your team.
Self-care is all the rage in organizations recently, but it’s important to practice what we preach. Encourage your team to practice self-care for the benefit of their health and your overall company’s health.