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How can L&D support well-being for resilient employees and sustainable careers?

Amid the events many have experienced the last few years, employees crave ways to focus more on wellness, well-being, and mindfulness, not only for themselves but for their teams and families. Without it, employees may feel as though they can't or shouldn't stay with their employers for the long haul.

One report mentioned the rise in anxiety and mental health issues since the pandemic set in: "Nearly half of U.S. workers suffer from mental health issues since COVID-19 pandemic hit." See also Deloitte's Millennial Leadership Survey and young workers' emphasis on stress and work-life balance. These issues won't go away any-time soon. McKinsey analysts argue that the wellness market has grown to $1.5 trillion

But well-being and mindfulness can be learned. This is where L&D comes in. L&D teams can create courses with the latest research and tips on handling their stress, mental health, and mindfulness, as well as social learning discussions and chats to connect with others as they work through similar issues.

Employees want to be more mindful.

One of the chapters from Deloitte's Millennial Leadership Survey is titled "The Effect on Mental Health". It goes on to show that nearly half of all millennials and Gen Zs say they're stressed all or most of the time. These figures are more exaggerated for women and people of color. For Gen Zs, half of their stress derives from "my job/career prospects, illustrating how learning mindfulness techniques at work can have a dramatic effect on younger workers' mental health and, therefore, their productivity.

Companies are taking notice. An entire section of McKinsey's insights are devoted to "Well-being in the Workplace", and analysis by The Starr Conspiracy shows a 502% increase in investment for employee well-being from 2019 to 2020.

The L&D function, in collaboration with other roles serving the employee experience, is uniquely capable of addressing this need. But how?

How can L&D help? Develop mindfulness practices and courses.

The last few years have seen an explosion in employee tools to learn well-being and mindfulness, from journals to apps and beyond. Gallup's latest book is even called Wellbeing at Work. With such a dramatic increase in mental health and well-being initiatives like these, L&D can support them with mindfulness courses.

Consider springboarding off your organization's HR material regarding well-being as though it were the foundation of a course on the matter. Then supplement that material with podcasts, videos, and guided meditation tracks to further cement this skill in their day-to-day lives.

Workers want to align their work to the organizational mission.

Another aspect of well-being and resilience that impacts worker productivity is an emphasis on meaning. The more meaningful employees find their work, the more resilient they can become when facing setbacks. Many employees simply want to know that their job matters. What are they working toward in their role? What is the company working toward in its mission? And how are the two connected?

A recent McKinsey article outlines how organizations can go from the "Great Attrition" to the "Great Attraction" by embracing some of these larger perspectives. For example, they give advice about building great cultures, avoiding "transactional environments, developing opportunities for employees to grow their careers, and how leaders build communities. Many of these recommendations flow through how the day-to-day minutiae of employees' workdays can fit into the bigger picture.

Using your LMS or LXP can be a great avenue for connecting the dots between an individual's role and the organizational mission.

How can L&D help? Connect the dots between roles and goals.

Most organizations educate their employees on the strategic goals and vision of the company, usually during onboarding. But it's often quickly forgotten, or it's so vague that the employee doesn't understand how their work fits into the bigger picture.

By building a course that emphasizes the strategic goals of the company but that is tailored to many job types, you can help your employees develop a career path and a sense of purpose for the long term. 

Caution: Don't be cheesy. Sometimes the connection between a low-level employee and how the company "makes the world a better place can be tenuous at best. You can build trust with your people by showing them the practical connections of how their role serves the larger company purpose.

Retain your best people — starting today.

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