I was recently asked to do a remote keynote for an organization, and I was asked if I could speak to boosting morale during a time which has been challenging for many.
I’ve long focused on my mission as helping organizations find their zen in the digital age so this is very much par for the course.
From cultivating a strong, supportive culture, to checking in with employees regularly, making their morale and mental health a priority means taking a truly holistic approach to your team’s well-being.
Within that holistic approach, of course, there are many small steps you can take to start increasing your employees’ happiness. Some are quick and easy—things you can do today. Others are more of a long-term commitment—educating yourself on concepts like positive psychology, undertaking leadership development, or workplace culture overhaul.
Here are a few ways to start.
Make connecting with your team a bigger priority.
With in-person get-togethers, happy hours, and retreats on hold for the foreseeable future, it’s more important than ever to take time to authentically connect with your team members.
If you’re someone who’s traditionally avoided getting personal with your staff, this could be a challenge. But right now, when so much of that basic human connection is missing, your team needs to know that you care about them, their families, and how they’re doing.
This could take the form of a simple, 10-minute Slack chat with each team member over the course of a week or so. If you don’t know what to ask them, then just start with the time-trusted “How are you?…No, really.”
Learn about positive psychology and the science of happiness.
We have all likely heard that there are concrete steps we can take each day to make ourselves happier. But how about taking that to our team members? That’s where positive psychology comes in.
Positive psychology is the study of what makes life meaningful, and allows individuals and communities to thrive. A Harvard professor, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, made the concept famous back in 2004, when he taught a seminar on positive psychology that became the school’s most popular course of all time.
Since then, Ben-Shahar has gone on to found the Happiness Studies Academy, a learning organization that offers a year-long certificate in Happiness Studies for professionals. It’s science- and evidence-based, completely online, and covers both the theory and practice of happiness studies in two semesters, with the next course beginning Oct. 5.
Consider enrolling your team.
Incorporate small “pauses with intent” throughout your own workday, and encourage your staff to do the same.
You won’t be able to be there for your team if you’re not prioritizing your own self-care.
One way to do so is to focus on taking small breaks throughout the day—not to “check out,” but to recalibrate and refocus your energy. Practice a mindfulness exercise like two minutes of mindful breathing, or conscious awareness, in which you focus on the things you can see, hear, feel, and smell for a set amount of time.
By taking the time to practice these things yourself, you’ll give your team permission to do the same. Over time, the result will be a less stressed, more focused, and ultimately happier team.
Ensure your team’s benefits reflect how much you value them.
As positive as your team culture may be, if it’s a challenge for employees to get vacation days or sick days approved, they’re not going to feel valued.
It’s important to make sure that requests for time off are treated professionally, without undue suspicion or questioning from managers. As with any relationship, employees who feel trusted are much less likely to abuse that trust.
If your organization has historically been lackluster with benefits, adding additional vacation days or “mental health days” is a simple thing that can truly work wonders for employee morale. If employees are struggling, it’s best for both them and the business that they’re able to take some time off to care for themselves.
Supporting your team’s mental health, both short- and long-term, is an invaluable leadership skill that doesn’t get quite as much attention as it deserves. By taking concrete steps today, you can ensure every member of your team is not only fulfilled, but functioning at his or her greatest potential.