Written by Sally Campbell, Head of Clinical Development at Healix
February marked “Boost Your Self Esteem Month”, a health and wellbeing initiative that aims to shine a light on ways employers can increase the self-esteem of their employees and understand the wider impact this has on wellbeing and, ultimately, happiness and productivity.
Healthy self-esteem is a prerequisite to good mental health, so by nurturing strong self-esteem in their employees, employers are promoting resilience and positive mental health in the most sustainable way. Self-esteem is the confidence in our value as a human being and is positively correlated with achievement, satisfaction and good relationships with colleagues, family and friends. Our childhood experiences shape our feelings of self-worth but as adults our personal and professional successes and setbacks continue to impact the way we feel about ourselves.
Self-Esteem Awareness Month may be behind us but employers can continue to provide opportunities to raise the self-esteem of their teams with simple but effective measures. Ultimately, this support needs to be constant and dependable to truly have an impact.
But what does this actually look like in practice, and what can employers do to help in the most practical way?
- Offer choices
Where possible, employers should give employees choice in the type of work they do so that they can opt to do more of the work that they enjoy and are good at, increasing their chances of success.
Employers should also transfer this approach into their employee benefits and rewards packages, instead of just offering a one-size-fits-all solution. People thrive on having choice and the resultant feeling of being in control does wonders for their self-esteem. It also allows them to tailor their benefits to their own needs without having to approach their manager if they would prefer remain anonymous.
- Promote learning
An active, stimulated mind that is learning new things and being stretched in new ways breeds a happier person and raises self-esteem. Evidence has shown that learning new things is especially important to Gen Z, who make up an increasing portion of any company’s workforce.
In addition to offering training and courses that will improve the quality or efficiency of employees’ work, employers can offer further sessions in disciplines totally unrelated to their current field of work purely for the purposes of creativity and enjoyment. It might be a language or a new skill such as photography or an instrument, for example. In today’s world, offering a remote option of these opportunities is vital so that employees who are working from home can benefit too.
- Communicate and encourage
Employers should fuel this feeling of being in control by communicating with employees and giving them regular feedback on their work and performance. No one wants to sit at their desk – which may be in an isolated room at home – wondering if their superiors are happy with the quality of their work. Employers need to make them feel aware and on top of their own performance and progress.
While constructive feedback is important and helpful for employees, we often tend to focus on the negatives. It is vital to recognise and value the positives, so that the overarching feeling that employees come away with is one of confidence and belief in their abilities. Extra encouragement in the form of unexpected rewards, such as special discounts for food and shopping, can go a long way to making employees feel good about themselves.
- Opportunities to exercise and connect with nature
It’s well known that exercise and time outside boosts a person’s endorphins and wellbeing. Companies should consider offering gym memberships or free exercise classes as part of the company perks given the well-known benefits of exercise helping to clear the mind and improve focus and mood, which, in turn can influence self-esteem
Employers can also show their flexibility when it comes to working hours. Make it known to staff that using their lunch hour or logging off on time to exercise and get outside is encouraged – it gives them a chance to reset and recharge as well as the added bonus of getting outside while it’s light in the winter months.
Giving, especially to a cause close to their heart, makes people feel needed and valued and therefore, has obvious benefits for employees’ self-esteem.
Offering employees a certain amount of volunteering days per calendar year to volunteer with a charity of their choice, gives them control, choice and encourages them to feel good about themselves.
Everyone has different strengths and interests so allowing employees to choose the type of charity and the nature of their volunteering, allows them to give in the way they enjoy and excel at most, paying dividends for their self-esteem.
Prioritising staffs’ self-esteem and mental wellbeing is key for employers wishing to encourage a happy and engaged workforce and reap the benefits as a result. Strategies to promote these attributes have a positive return on investment, can reduce staff turnover and increase productivity so are not just for consideration during “Awareness” months.