Many of us make resolutions at the start of a new year in hopes of making lifestyle changes so that we feel better, happier and more satisfied about our lives.
Since such intentions are so important to people, I thought it might be important to think about what companies could do to help their employees meet their goals. After all, happier or more satisfied employees might translate into better customer relationships, greater productivity, and more.
Here are some suggestions:
Spend more time with family and friends: Many firms offer flexible work schedules, on-site child care and maternity and paternity leave, among other benefits. Yet, work still continues to invade our lives in a ferocious way. We need to encourage our employees to take advantage of these options. Telling them they can take time off yet expecting them to respond 24/7 sends mixed signals.
Get fit: Some firms provide employee fitness centers, spas and exercise classes, although this seems to be less of a norm than would be desired. For many busy executives or employees, having fitness facilities on site would make it so much easier for them to work out during lunch or before or after work. At the Smith School, some of the executive MBA candidates organized yoga sessions after intense Friday night class sessions because one had experience as a yoga instructor. They found this to be a good way to relax and get fit.
Eating healthier or losing weight: Many individuals list this as one of their resolutions. Some firms (e.g., Lockheed Martin, Google) offer healthy food options in their cafeterias and have wellness programs onsite.
Quitting smoking and or drinking: Some firms offer smoking cessation programs or employee assistance programs to help employees cope with making these tough changes in their lifestyles. Think about other firm practices. Do many of your socials focus on bar activities that involve smoking and drinking alcohol? Could you also encourage other events that are healthier in focus?
Getting our finances in order: It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by financial issues — saving money, retirement issues, financial planning, etc. Employers can offer services to employees so they have trusted, intelligent financial experts to talk to.
Gaining skills or education: Many employees want to enhance their skillset to feel like they are growing and being challenged. While some firms offer training programs and tuition reimbursement, more needs to be done. Employees need to feel that they are in a continuous learning culture where growing and developing is encouraged.
Helping others who are less fortunate: Some firms are very active in enabling employees to take work days to do various community service activities. Find out how employees want to give back to others and encourage them by giving them work time and support to do this.
Getting organized, managing time and managing our stress better: So many people lament about how to handle the stress in their lives. Offer stress and time management courses, sessions on project management and programs on enhancing energy.
Investing in our environment: Some employees, especially millennials, are very concerned about our environment. Let them get involved in generating ideas for how to expand the “green” side of your business. It’s amazing what kinds of ideas they may come up with, from recycling to using bikes at work.
Enjoying life more: Think like Google, Zappos and other “fun” places to work. Is there anything you can do to infuse more energy and fun at the workplace?
Your office may not do all of these things. No one expects you to, especially if you are a smaller firm. Just remember your employees have set some New Year’s resolutions, so try to help them reach their goals. It’s important to offer management support and be a role model for these types of initiatives. After all, if leaders in the firm don’t partake or encourage participation, employees are less likely to do so As many employees have told me, “If my manager stays at work until 10 p.m., doesn’t exercise, gets little sleep and rarely sees his or her kids, how can I be any different?”