Today, more than ever, we’re starting to be aware of the critical nature of team wellness and wellbeing in the workplace. Providing an environment of support and wellbeing can help reduce turnover, alleviate burnout, and offer people more job satisfaction.
Beyond the need to focus on wellbeing from an employer perspective, there’s a need for team wellness from a human perspective. We are all affected by the world around us, and people are starting to realize the importance of acknowledging and expressing our feelings, particularly in processing trauma.
Today we explore the importance of team wellness and ongoing wellbeing circles in the workplace.
What is Team Wellness?
While the words “workplace team wellness” may bring to mind teams of people doing jumping jacks or offering healthy snacks in the breakroom, wellbeingness goes much deeper. Of course, bodily safety, health, and comfort are essential in the workplace, but focusing on mental wellbeing is also crucial.
At Share, our team wellness sessions are onboarding sessions where we model ways that teams can hold space for each other. You might hear the term wellness training. While “training” is a common term, at Share Collaborative, we don’t believe in the term “training.” Empathy and human connection aren’t trainable or teachable. We can’t train people to care about each other. It’s something innate in every human being. What we do offer and can support your team to do is to foster and bring forth that connection and rapport.
Our guided check-in circle model helps foster and facilitate safe spaces where team members can hold space for one another. We typically model the wellbeingness circle, showing teams how to hold space. Some of the organizations we’ve worked with request sessions tailored to certain team goals regarding well-beingness.
For example, we recently worked with an organization during the Covid-19 pandemic, as they were requesting staff return to the office. We supported them through office masking and other precautions to help them process and maintain their emotional wellness during a very discombobulating time.
Wellbeing circles are often sharing circles—a place where people can safely and openly express their feelings. Often the sessions begin with conversational agreements, allowing people to set comfortable parameters for sharing. In a wellbeing circle, everyone has a voice and an opportunity to share.
Wellbeingness circles are a way for groups to process trauma and tragedy, especially when those events are related to identity. Systemic oppression in all its forms, including racism, can be extremely traumatic. When there’s an event that retriggers that trauma, we help create a space for the team to dialogue about the event in a healthy way. This dialogue allows members to process the event rather than holding in feelings of hurt and stress that can build inside of them.
Wellbeingness Creates a Better Workplace
A focus on team wellness can foster a healthier work environment and help participants connect, share, and discuss how current events affect them personally and professionally. In human services, this space is particularly important because people are often serving other humans directly in a way that can be emotional and stressful.
Burnout is common in human service professions. Social workers, teachers, medical professionals, and other servers can experience exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and more. This can lead to a high rate of turnover and ultimately impact a given organization’s targeted outcomes.
In human services, retention is the key to success. For example, studies have shown that children in foster care with one case manager have a 75% chance of permanent placement. Kids in foster care with two different case managers have only a 17.5% chance of placement. If those two case managers leave and the child works with four or more case managers, their chance of permanent placement reduces to just 2%. Serving that child is directly related to the wellbeingness of the case management team. If those case managers feel heard, valued, and cared for, they will stick around. In short, wellness not only improves the health and retention of our team, our outcomes, but also those we serve!
If an employer or organization doesn’t allow their employees to care for their needs, they will quickly find that their employees will move on. We’re seeing this right now with the Great Resignation. Employees that couldn’t leave to prioritize their health—for example, being able to take a break to get a booster shot—start to feel undervalued and eventually will look elsewhere for a job.
What we have found within our own organization and those we serve is that—when organizations prize people over profit, profits come. When you prize people and treat them as whole humans, outcomes are achieved and exceeded. Shawn has personally experienced this with organizations time and time again. In one organization in which Shawn led a team of 30, the program was 30% under the goal for positive discharges when we started. Once we shifted the focus to employee wellbeingness, we brought up that rate and exceeded the positive discharge rate within two years—a strong indicator of why and how this model is so effective.
Another organization we worked with was ready to subsidize mental health care for their team but quickly realized that it would be too costly with their limited budget. After we modeled and onboarded them on a team wellness circle, they started implementing monthly wellness circles on their own. They saw a huge improvement in morale and continue to invite us back, realizing that it is highly impactful for their team and achieves their goal of supporting their team to be well!
From an employer perspective, there are many options to facilitate well-beingness circles amongst your team. A few hours a month is a small investment to reduce turnover and help others connect. Wellbeingness circles help create a greater sense of community and engagement within teams.
How Does a Wellbeingness Circle Work?
At Share Collaborative, we have a diverse team of facilitators, each with their own strengths and experiences they bring into the facilitation. Prior to the session, we send out a brief welcome background and ask everyone what they need from the group to feel safe sharing.
We typically begin the session with a few minutes of mindfulness and a grounding exercise. This helps participants feel present in the space and with each other
The wellbeing circle allows everyone to check back in around the trauma and process it safely. It refocuses the team on their own wellness and offers a space to engage in discussion safely.
When a Share facilitator models a wellbeing circle, they offer a check-in, allowing everyone to be present and authentically share their thoughts and emotions. We thank each person as they share, listening attentively and engaging in discussions about how current events may be affecting participants personally and professionally. The session ends with a checkout, where we help facilitate closure on the discussion. It’s essential to end on a note that acknowledges and reiterates the safety and wellbeing of everyone.
The journey to team wellbeing is incremental, but it’s essential to begin. Once you get the process underway, we’re happy to continue to offer guidance on wellness approaches for your team. So if you’re ready to move your team forward to wellness, please reach out today.