whole self to work

Taking Care Of Every Employee So They Bring Their Whole Self To Work

By Danielle Cronquist

When one area of an employee’s life feels neglected, it has a tendency to become the only thing that person can focus on. Because of this, there has been a push for organizations to make sure employees are fully taken care of in their personal lives as well as their professional lives. Of course, there are appropriate and reasonable boundaries, but there are many ways your company can ensure each employee is bringing their whole self to work.

Lean into these core areas at your organization to be sure you are caring for the whole employee, and helping your employees learn and develop according to their needs.

Communication and relationship building

Let’s start with a fundamental of management—employee feedback. 

Both positive and negative feedback are valuable for employees. According to a BambooHR report, 51 percent of employees prefer to receive feedback as they complete projects or in casual, convenient 1-on-1s with their managers.

Teach your employees (especially your managers) how to give and receive constructive feedback using communication tools like the ones recommended in the book Crucial Conversations, including speaking up in crucial moments effectively.

To help your employees find a personalized path for growth and development, try 15Five to facilitate more meaningful 1-on-1s.

This helps employees feel confident giving frequent, in-the-moment feedback to their peers, managers, and direct reports. Providing a peer recognition feedback app also helps employees own the process of giving positive feedback and shows everyone at the company the excellent work others are doing.

Beyond feedback between managers and employees, people are able to bring their whole self to work when they have genuine, authentic relationships with those that they are drawn to. 

You can’t force people to be friends, but you can be mindful of how people sit together and what the desk arrangements are like in your office. According to the National Business Research Institute, employee satisfaction rises by almost 50 percent when a worker develops a close relationship on the job, so it pays to help those relationships happen. 

You can help turn employees from workplace acquaintances into friends by creating mentor programs, buddy programs for new teammates, and interdepartmental learning and development opportunities. Even something as simple as a team lunch can reveal there’s more to connect over than your daily work. 

Managers can be a strong driving force for these connections and can set both the mood and tone of the work environment for their team. Manager can have a deeply positive impact by:

• Creating a welcoming atmosphere for employees
• Providing direction, resources, and common goals to their entire team
• Modeling the way employees should act
• Enacting initiatives that show a genuine personal interest in employees and helping them achieve their individual goals

Bringing one’s whole self to work means personal development

According to the 15Five Next Generation Workplace report, 50 percent of employees who have productive and useful 1-on-1s plan to stay at their organizations for five or more years. Manager 1-on-1s are quality time between an employee and their manager and the best opportunity to set the employee up for success.

Cassie Whitlock, HR director at BambooHR, says, “For my team, they each get an hour [of one-on-one time] every week. It’s a lot of time, but I’ve found that it really propels our work forward.” Spending that amount of time on one-on-one meetings might not work for every manager in every department, but it’s okay to experiment and figure out what works best for your team. 

One creative way to fit in a one-on-one is a walking meeting. A nice walk outside when it’s warm or just around the office when it’s chilly allows a meeting to feel less formal, plus you get to stretch your legs a bit while you chat. 

Benefits for the whole self

Ideally, the benefits your organization offers should reinforce your company’s values and help establish the culture you are trying to achieve. To establish benefits that really treat the whole employee, think of these five pillars of well-being:

Physical: Health insurance is the obvious benefit here. Your employees need to be physically well so they can show up to the office ready to work every day. When selecting which health insurance plans to offer, keep in mind the elements your business cares about, as well as the elements your employees care about; whether it’s cost, flexibility, family coverage, or a broad selection of programs for different lifestyles.

Wellness programs like gym reimbursements or rewards for maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also contribute to your employees’ physical health.

Social: As mentioned before, your employees do better when they feel socially accepted and have friendships with coworkers. In addition to being thoughtful about how you organize your office space, consider encouraging employees to take a couple of 10-minute breaks throughout the day to socialize with each other. Hosting lunch-and-learns and happy hours are also a great way to build a community between coworkers.

If you have remote workers at your organization, it can be difficult to keep them connected to the office. One easy way to keep remote employees engaged is to encourage them to turn on their cameras when they call into video meetings. It might feel awkward at first being on a big screen, but talking face-to-face (even via computer) can help employees feel more visible to coworkers and company leaders, and can even help them feel like their work is better appreciated.

Mental: Approximately one in five U.S. adults face serious mental health problems every year, so statistically this is a problem that likely affects some of your people, their engagement at work, and their life in general. By offering an assistance program, you can help employees bring their whole self to work by granting resources that can help them with personal and work-related stress, and their mental health. Make it clear to employees that EAP programs are entirely confidential, and above all, make sure everyone in your company knows they’re available.

You can also care for your employees’ mental health by giving them adequate PTO and encouraging employees to actually use it. Everyone needs time away to recuperate and regenerate and come back to work with a refreshed mind, ready to dive back in. Make sure your employees feel comfortable taking appropriate amounts of time off when they need it so they don’t get burned out.

Financial: The first financial benefits that come to mind are probably things like 401(k)s and Roth IRAs, but those aren’t the only ways you can help employees save. A GoBankingRates survey found that more than half of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts. To help employees become money-wise, consider offering an after-work-hours course that teaches how to budget, manage savings, and get out of debt. 

Community: How does your organization establish a sense of community among employees and give back to the community around your workplace? You can find volunteer opportunities for your company to participate in, like food drives, raising money for local organizations, or community clean-up projects. These give employees a common goal or purpose to work towards. Plus, everyone feels great when they give back!

Helping your employees learn and develop is about a lot more than how much work they can get done at their desks. When you care for the whole employee rather than just their output, you create more engaged, satisfied, loyal, and productive employees. A cared-for employee will naturally bring their whole self to work.  

Danielle Cronquist is a copywriter for BambooHR, a full-service, cloud-based HR management software. Her work gives people the tools and knowledge they need to do great work and create great places to work. You can find more from Danielle on the BambooHR Blog


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