Two in three Australians agree COVID-19 has made them more aware of the importance of mental health, research for SEEK reveals.
Being a business owner or employer can bring unique stresses and pressures. And it’s important to consider how you look after yourself and your mental health – not just that of your employees.
Why prioritising your wellbeing matters
Fundamentally, supporting your own mental health and wellbeing can enable you to live a happier and more fulfilling life, deal with challenges and be at your best.
But going beyond that, it also helps to create a culture of wellbeing for your employees. “I think many business owners or managers have a sense that the buck stops with them,” says Sabina Read, SEEK’s Resident Psychologist. “You may feel like you have to do whatever it takes to get the job done because you are accountable, so you might work very long days or send emails after hours.”
According to Read, this sends a powerful message to your employees. “We need to think about the impact of our behaviour on others in the organisation,’’ she says. “You might encourage your staff to have a good work-life balance, but if they don’t see you living and working those values, then they’ll think the same is expected of them.”
The building blocks of wellbeing
“The basic foundations of wellbeing apply to everyone, whether you’re in a work situation or not,” Read says.
The core components of wellbeing are:
- experiencing positive emotions like joy, hope or lightness
- a sense of engagement with the activities we undertake
- enjoying meaningful connections with others
- having a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives and work
- having a sense of achievement – setting and meeting goals.
Read says there are three important ways you can support your own wellbeing as a business owner:
- Put yourself first
“It’s a cliché, but you really do have to fit your own oxygen mask before you look after anyone else,” Read says. “If you’re fragile, depleted or stressed, you won’t be able to support anyone else and those feelings will spill over to your employees.” What this looks like in practice will be different for everyone – but the fundamentals of rest, exercise, and eating well could be good places to start.
While it can feel uncomfortable or even daunting to prioritise your own wellbeing, Read says doing this will not just benefit you, but your whole team and organisation. “Employees tend to do better and feel more satisfied at work if their boss or manager is practising what they preach,” she says.
- Be mindful of meeting overload
During the pandemic, it was natural that business owners and managers wanted to check in on their staff who were working remotely. But Read says leaders need to carefully evaluate the benefits of each scheduled meeting.
“When you initiate a meeting it’s important to think about its purpose, the desired outcome and who really needs to attend,” she says. “Meetings are a way to share communication and develop ideas, but they can also be fatiguing. Sometimes leaders can be more productive and increase their wellbeing with fewer and more purposeful meetings.”
- Make wellbeing visible
As a leader, you are a role model to your staff so if you openly focus on your own wellbeing that sends a strong message to your employees that looking after your health is important. Let your employees know you are putting ideas about wellbeing into practice – you may take a walk in your lunch break, switch off your technology at the end of the day or limit working extra hours.
“If you say that you’re not going to be available until 8.30am because you’re exercising that sends a strong message to your team that looking after your physical health is valued,” Read says.
It’s natural to focus on the wellbeing of your employees, but your own health and wellbeing are just as important, and your own needs are just as valid. Taking actions to support your wellbeing can have positive outcomes for you – and these can extend to your team, too. By recognising that your employees are just as likely to take notice of what you do as what you say, you can begin to make simple adjustments to your working day that emphasise wellbeing – both yours and theirs.
Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK. Interviewing 4800 Australians annually. Published October 2020.