It’s a new year! The New Year marks a beginning for many. Last year is old news, and we have a clean slate to make it an even better year — especially for your well-being. It’s an exciting time to begin a new journey and an opportunity to improve. In Daniel Pink’s book, When, he talks about milestone dates, like the new year, back to school, birthdays, and anniversaries. He argues that these times are the best to start something new.
Have you resolved to improve this year? According to NPR, “The new year often makes people want to be a better version of themselves. According to a poll from YouGov, around 37% of people make New Year’s resolutions. But most people abandon their goals for the new year within two months.”
There are many reasons why people abandon their goals so quickly after setting them. First, change is hard even when it’s our own well-being at stake. We set lofty goals and then get overwhelmed by them. Another reason is that we don’t have any accountability. Sometimes, we set the goals in our heads, and that’s where they live. Writing your goals down and sharing them with someone makes you more likely to achieve them.
As leaders, our employees’ well-being should be one of our top priorities. I know driving revenue and shareholder value and writing performance reviews (especially this time of year) are all top priorities on your list. However, I wager that if you invest in supporting your employees’ well-being, you will see a positive impact on your team and the organization as a whole. Here are some simple suggestions that you can implement to help you support your employees’ well-being in 2024.
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Talk with Them
If you’ve read my previous articles, you’re probably not surprised I’m starting with communication. Communication is KEY! Talking with your employees about their goals is a great starting point — first, because you’re taking an interest in them and not just their work, and second, because it can start a conversation about how to support them.
Start by asking if they have any goals for this year, particularly for their work-life balance and well-being. Have they created a New Year’s Resolution? Why did they choose that one, and what does it mean to them? You may also have a similar journey that you’re on, and you can share your stories, things that helped you, and even your failures.
Offer accountability help
I had a team member who desperately wanted to quit smoking. She told me about it and shared with me her plan to quit. The challenge was that everyone in her family smoked, so the temptation was always there, and she had to rely on her willpower to push through. That’s not easy, and changing habits takes time. It’s not something, like most goals, that will change overnight. She and I agreed that I would check in with her every day. I would ask her if she had a cigarette, and we would celebrate the days that she didn’t smoke, and we’d talk about days where she misstepped–because it happens.
Give Them Space/Offer Flexibility
Resolutions mean that you’re working on changing something; typically, a new habit needs to form. For that to happen, something needs to change in your schedule. My resolution is to wake up earlier so I can work out in the morning without interruptions from my children or pets. This means that I need to go to bed earlier to avoid negatively impacting my health goals. For that to happen, I had to change my nighttime routine. Simply setting a goal and wishing it to come true won’t happen. Something has to flex so that you can add in the new habit.
Your employees may need time to fit in a new habit or remove an old one. This might mean visits to a doctor or time to go to the gym. Meaning they will need some flexibility. Everyone needs different things, and, again, communication is critical here. Talking with your employee about how their goals impact their day and how you can work together to shift things around can show support.
Celebrate Small Wins Along The Way
Most resolutions are grandiose and won’t happen overnight. For example, if an employee’s goal is to run a marathon this year, it will not happen without many changes and ups and downs. Celebrate smaller milestones (like when they run a 10k one weekend as they increase their mileage) with your employees. Celebrating and sharing in their success keeps them motivated when they may have a bad day or week.
Our roles have morphed as leaders, and our employees are looking for leaders that support them in and out of the workplace. While helping someone with their New Year’s resolution doesn’t seem work-related, it will improve their engagement, presenteeism, and commitment to the leader and the organization. Investing a few minutes can exponentially impact your team and organization.