Broadly speaking, organizational self-care is the collective responsibility of an organization to foster a healthy work environment for all of its employees. This encompasses the principles, attitudes, practices, and policies it supports that create a culture that effectively meets the needs of individual staff members and the system as a whole. It sounds like a lot of work, so why bother?
Creating a plan for organizational self-care will yield many benefits, such as quality performance, collaboration, improved productivity, decreased employee turnover, reduced burnout, better work-life balance, and increased job satisfaction. Without an effective plan, an organization runs a higher risk of burnout -- the state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion caused by excessive stress.
Keep in mind that building a culture of self-care is not going to happen overnight. Creating an effective plan will take time, effort, and a vision. Your first step is to figure out what existing practices are supporting or are not supporting self-care — for instance, do employees take work home with them? Do employees have to eat lunch at their desks? Do employees feel comfortable offering feedback to administrators?
It can be helpful to ask employees what would feel supportive to them. With their input, you can create a collective vision and definition of what your organization’s self-care will look like. Some things you might consider:
- encourage breaks
- allow staff to take full lunches
- applaud vacation time rather than shaming it
- provide good workplace lighting
- keep the workspace clean and secure
- provide opportunities for community-building
- keep grievances confidential
- promote no-tolerance policies concerning bullying and sexual harassment
- stock healthy snacks in a designated staff area
- open windows
- don’t respond to calls or emails after work hours
- incorporate fitness and wellness in the office
- avoid scheduling meetings back-to-back without a break
- provide positive feedback to employees
It is important for the organization’s leaders to follow and model these healthy practices! Make sure you are also taking those breaks, stretching your legs between meetings, and leaving work at the office. This will help employees feel comfortable to take those same measures themselves.
Consider the benefit of having a regular check-in with staff to allow them to voice and discuss concerns about their job or the organization. Airing grievances or sharing successes is important to keep everyone accountable for promoting a healthy work culture. Make sure you are consistently assessing workload to ensure that employees are given adequate time to accomplish expected tasks. Regular team meetings provide the perfect opportunity to readdress stress-management and self-care practices, evaluate communication between departments, and assess staff satisfaction on a regular basis. Granting employees the chance to provide input on policies and practices will ensure that the existing measures are acting in the organization’s collective well-being.
If you want to build and maintain a thriving organization, pay attention to the needs of your staff.
Self-care can easily be embedded into the workday! By providing resources on self-care, teaching and practicing mindfulness, you can ensure a high quality of work life for yourself, your staff, and your organization as a whole.
Written by Krystyl Wright, LCSW