The pandemic has taken its toll on businesses. Learn how to master employee appreciation in 2022 and how you can ensure your teams keep thriving.
Having a team of employees is hard no matter what the year is. However, now that COVID-19 is still around nearly three years after its first appearance, it can take a lot of hard work on the part of a boss to ensure the team that works for them is happy and well. There are lots of things you can do to ensure that your team stays physically healthy at work, like give people space to breathe freely without being on top of one another, provide masks and hand sanitizer, and allow some people to work from home. However, there are more things that you need to do as a team manager to ensure everyone stays healthy—especially in terms of their mental health. And, if you want to master employee appreciation in 2022, you need to focus on helping employees with their mental health as much as their physical health this year.
While it might seem daunting to try to help employees with their mental health as much as their physical health, in reality, there are some concrete steps that you can do to boost morale and to also help ensure that employees know they can take certain steps that will help them nurture their mental wellbeing on their own. Here are important steps you can take to foster mental wellness and show your employee appreciation in 2022.
Recognizing Burnout from the Pandemic
The pandemic was incredibly difficult. And unfortunately for us, it is not over. While work may have changed form during the pandemic, and people may have started working from home more often, it did not get easier for many people. In fact, many people felt burdened by work because it felt like another thing they had to deal with on top of caring for loved ones and feeling anxiety about the virus itself. All of this pressure led to burnout for many people—especially those who took their work home and no longer knew how to differentiate between their home life (which could give them a break) and their work life (which needed to be left at work).
One way to show employee appreciation in 2022 is to spot burnout in employees when you see it, and then to have a conversation with those employees before they get too burned out. By showing your employees that you see them, that you can see they're not doing well, and expressing that you want them to feel well so they can continue working for your team in the long run, you can show them that you appreciate them as human beings and that you want them to be well just for themselves—and not just for your business. Recognizing burnout is a great way to show employee appreciation in 2022.
Here are some signs of imminent burnout, from experts:
• Shortness with clients or customers
• Cynical attitude or opinions
• Extreme fatigue or lack of energy at work
• Difficulty concentrating on work tasks
• Not feeling satisfied by normal achievements
• Consuming more food, drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes than normal
• A change in sleep habits, coming in to work late
• Withdrawal from colleagues or coworkers
• Calling in sick or for vacation time more than normal
• Physical symptoms like headache or migraines during the workday
• Refusal to take on additional tasks or to volunteer for assignments
Investing in Employees by Doing Little Things
Showing employees you care doesn't have to be at a yearly or quarterly awards ceremony. Instead, commit to doing one thing every single day at the office that shows you care. These can be tiny, small things that don't cost you much but show that you want your employees to feel seen and appreciated at work. Consider offering healthy, pre-packaged snacks in the refrigerator one day so everyone can have healthy snacks to enjoy while they work.
Alternatively, tell people they can have a rest, socializing, or nap hour one day and to step away from their desks to have a break. You can think of myriad ways to show your appreciation every single day (it can be as simple as writing a small thank you note to employees and leaving it on their desks in the morning before they get to work!) Little gestures add up to much greater shows of employee appreciation in 2022 if you are consistent about working on them.
Insisting on Work/Life Balance
Some employees may not be showing signs of burnout, but you may be able to tell that they are working very hard, and around the clock. Employees, especially those working at home, may feel tempted to work all of the time, and it can be hard to set boundaries between work time and time off. If you want to help ensure that your employees stay happy, healthy, and well while working for your company, make sure that you insist that your team members create a balance between their work and non-work time.
To show employee appreciation in 2022, make your company's vacation policy very, very clear, and then when people take their vacation time to travel or have a break from work, do not allow them to work on the trip. This means that your company and colleagues should not interact with anyone who is on vacation so you can help encourage them to rest and actually enjoy their vacation, as well. Vacation time isn't just fun and relaxing for your employees. Studies show it is actually good for their health. So, by encouraging real vacations for people on your team, you can make sure they avoid burnout at work—and you can help extend their life by improving their physical health and wellbeing.
Offering De-Stressing Tools in Office
Don't just leave the de-stressing process for employees to do while on vacation or not at work. Make the workplace a place that offers de-stressing tools, as well. Give each team member a small stress ball to squeeze at their dress so they can have something to do with their hands when they are experiencing tension or anxiety. Offer a once-weekly yoga class that team members can participate in to get them moving or relaxing at the end of a workday (consider doing it on Fridays). Have a quiet, dark meditation room where people can go to sit and become mindful when they are feeling overwhelmed. Also, offer healthy snacks and beverages in a breakroom that can help show people they are valued and that you want to help fuel their bodies in a healthy way—like granola bars, fresh fruit, teas, filtered water, and more.