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​Vital ways to prioritize wellbeing at work

February 11, 2021

Photo: Ben White

Despite the resounding evidence that neglecting our wellbeing has dire consequences, many professionals still struggle to do more than pay lip service to work-life balance. Several studies have shown that the pandemic has put enormous pressure on working people.

Employees who work from home are spending longer at their desks and facing a bigger workload than before the pandemic hit. Last week, The Guardian reported that home workers in the UK, Austria, Canada, and the US are logged on to their computers two hours longer than before.

What does it take to free your team from unhealthy patterns and reach a more sustainable, rewarding work-life balance? As part of a Mental Health and Wellbeing initiative at CWT, Jonathan Rogers, Senior Director Global Products, showed us his three-step approach to fostering a culture of wellbeing in his team. 

Add it to the agenda

The first step was to create a safe space for my team to start talking about wellbeing. I started out by adding it to the agenda for our weekly team meeting, emphasizing its importance and pointing out the great blogs and stories on our internal channel. Honestly, it was a little awkward in the beginning - switching from the usual work topics to subjects that are traditionally viewed as more personal in nature, so I started by sharing my vulnerabilities.

Once we started talking and acknowledging each other’s challenges, it quickly created a new sense of openness and empathy, and the discussions became the new normal for our team.

Share your own experiences

If you want people to prioritize their wellbeing, you have to demonstrate that you are doing it too. I shared my reasons for ditching alcohol & caffeine (to alleviate anxiety), and how I block my calendar for exercise classes, prioritizing them over meetings that can be moved. As some of the team opened up common subjects came to light such as isolation, anxiety, over-thinking, constant media coverage of bad news, work/life balance, lack of personal growth or confidence, and little time to focus on wellbeing.

Make well-being a group effort

We collectively decided to create an online whiteboard for the team to post issues, topics, and questions - and share what they are doing to improve their wellbeing. Creating a virtual whiteboard allowed the more reserved members of the team to see what others are sharing before contributing or adding their own content.

The whiteboard allows us to offer practical strategies to help alleviate issues. The team help each other by posting links to resources, articles they've read or great content that helps them switch off from stresses and make more time for themselves. Having the items on a shared board also enables us to regularly check-in, see how people are doing and keep the conversation going. A myriad of strategies emerged. One colleague takes lunchtime on Friday to make their grandmother lunch, another shares links for positive news sources and podcasts to replace mainstream news, and another has started a gratitude journal.

By incorporating wellbeing conversations into the agenda, being vulnerable and sharing tactics and strategies, wellbeing becomes a priority.

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