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09 Sep 2022
by Claire McGettigan

5 ways managers can boost team wellbeing and also look after themselves

When it comes to improving wellbeing to boost employee productivity, employers must ensure line managers have the training and tools – and support for their own wellbeing

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As the cost of living crisis bites, many employees will find themselves in an increasingly precarious financial position. This creates money worries that will inevitably affect their ability to focus at work.

Responsibility for employee wellbeing is frequently cascaded to line managers on the assumption they are best placed to spot early warning signs that an employee’s mental or physical wellbeing is suffering and take early action to prevent the issue escalating to a bigger problem.

While this is true, unless managers receive specific support to respond to new challenges, organisations risk repeating high levels of manager burnout, as seen during the lockdowns. During the first lockdown, half of line managers said they were not assessed on their ability to handle staff wellbeing and 70% experienced barriers to providing mental health support (BITC, 2019).

Today, managers are still under pressure to manage new and competing demands, even though many don’t have experience managing staff through circumstances as financially challenging as the current cost of living crisis.

There’s also a growing need for these managers to adapt their management style to suit a hybrid environment, which has seen them take on responsibility for larger teams since the Covid-19 pandemic.

5 ways to reskill and equip line managers

Organisations wanting to adopt a strategic approach to wellbeing to boost employee productivity need to equip managers to deliver this brief.

1. Assess the gap

Gather insight from middle managers about the challenges they face in supporting employee wellbeing.  This will not only help you tailor your support to the unique needs of your workforce but establish a community for sharing best practice on an ongoing basis.

2. Communicate wellbeing offers

Your wellbeing offer will only be effective if staff engage with it. Many organisations have reviewed employee benefits, wellbeing, reward and recognition in response to the pandemic, cost of living and energy crises.    

Fewer have communicated to managers these changes or how they benefit employees. Ensure your managers are kept up to date with any enhancements to your wellbeing and overall employee value proposition offering so they can signpost appropriate support to employees.

3. Training is vital

Staff won’t open up to their manager unless they feel psychologically safe to do so. Yet only 30% of employees say they feel comfortable talking to their line manager about their mental health and wellbeing or think their manager understands the personal challenges they face, according to McKinsey. Managers require specific training to create the right conditions for employees to open up.

4. Hybrid tools

Feeling appreciated at work is critical to employee wellbeing. Yet 50% of employees feel their manager doesn’t appreciate the work they do or say thank you for a job well done (Edenred, 2022).

Without digital tools it’s harder for managers with teams working across different locations and work patterns to recognise and reward good work in an equitable way.

5. Monitor managers’ own wellbeing

A manager needs to fell well before they can help others. Managers need to support for their own wellbeing before they can model this to their direct reports.

Employers are keen to head out of economic recession as soon as possible and that means keeping productivity high.  This will only be sustainable by taking a strategic approach to wellbeing that managers are best placed to deliver. Make sure yours are set up for success.

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