By Jeff Dewing CEO of Cloudfm
Since the pandemic, we have seen 81% of workplaces increase their focus on employee mental health. While many businesses have implemented policies to address mental health, truly prioritising employee well-being requires more than just words. It starts with the CEO and trickles down to the entire organisation. But what about the well-being of the leaders themselves? How can they manage their own mental health while being busy with the stresses of running a business and juggling the concerns of everyone else? Here are some top tips on how to manage your well-being as a leader.
First and foremost, it’s essential for leaders to ensure their own cup is full. Whilst it’s important to make employees’ needs a top priority, leaders must recognise that they can’t effectively help others unless they maintain their own well-being. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking care of yourself is the best way to support others. That’s why it’s key to take the time to regularly check in on yourself. At Cloudfm, we have monthly check-ins with each employee, where we focus on the five strands of resilience: emotional state, social life, physical health, spiritual well-being and mental state. This activity is inclusive of everyone, including management and myself.
Leading by example is crucial when it comes to promoting workplace well-being. According to 69% of people, their managers had the greatest impact on their mental health. This highlights the immense influence that leaders possess in shaping well-being within organisations. No one cares what you say, they care what you do. People pay more attention to actions than words, so it’s important for leaders to practice what they preach. That’s why I ensure that I lead by example in promoting workplace well-being and effectively managing stress. I prioritise “Jeff Time,” which involves being undisturbed watching the sunset daily and going for a walk at my local beach. This practice really helps clear my mind. Having experienced its benefits firsthand, I introduced two paid hours per week for my employees to practice mindfulness, giving them time to reflect. While not everyone has clear prompts like the sunset, I encourage my team to ritualise activities that feel peaceful. Regular reflection time can be transformative, as sometimes slowing down helps you go faster.
Remember there is no such thing as work-life balance – there’s only life. Given that we spend a significant portion of our lives working, it is crucial to prioritise our well-being and incorporate as much enjoyment and fun as we can both in and out of the workplace. It’s not enough to simply encourage employees to leave their desks or go for walks during the day; leaders must lead by example and do so themselves as well.
Since the pandemic, I have made a conscious effort to avoid back-to-back calls and only run them for 40 minutes. I also enforce an hour gap between each meeting for myself and my team and encourage walking meetings to get the blood flowing. Additionally, I add an element of fun to my workday by singing and dancing every day, usually after finishing a call (although it’s clear to all, I cannot sing!) It might seem silly, but it creates a positive atmosphere, uplifts my mood and makes me feel good.
Leaders should try to embrace vulnerability and not be afraid to ask for help. I personally have fully embraced vulnerability. During the first COVID-19 lockdown, when our company experienced a drastic 95% drop in revenue, I broke down crying during a company Zoom meeting. By being open and honest, I demonstrated that it’s okay not to have all the answers. This helped create a culture where people feel supported and understood, enabling them to feel comfortable sharing their own stresses and uncertainties. It also relieved the pressure of facing struggles alone and I didn’t need to put up a front. So be transparent and don’t be afraid to ask for help, you are only human and everyone will understand.
Prioritising well-being as a leader is not only essential for your own health and happiness but organisational success. By taking care of yourself, practising what you preach, building healthy habits and embracing vulnerability, you can create a positive work environment that fosters growth and productivity. Nurturing your own well-being will have a domino effect, leading to a thriving workplace.