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CEO of Aurum Land and Tatler Asia’s Most Influential 2021 honouree Michelle Yong talks about the importance of looking after your employees’ well-being

Physical and mental wellbeing have become more important than ever, due to the Covid-19 crisis. Rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological distress and stress have increased in the general population during the pandemic, with stress-related physical health disorders also on the rise.

Simply put, people are burning out.

Since 2018, our company has run Core Collective, a co-working solution that brings together more than 40 types of fitness and wellness professionals under one roof in Singapore. This has given us a first-hand opportunity to learn what’s making a difference in people’s health and wellness during the pandemic, and how employers can help. Here are three steps employers can take right now.

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Understand team members’ challenges

Many workers have days where they are racing through back-to-back meetings, running multiple projects, and perhaps raising children or caring for elderly parents—all while dealing with the added demands of the global pandemic. Letting team members know you’re aware of all they have been juggling since the pandemic arrived—and giving them some grace if they are struggling to keep up—can go a long way.

Coping with daily challenges while maintaining physical and mental health requires us to be mindful and proactive about how we spend our time. Employers can make it easier for their teams to stay conscious of the choices they are making by encouraging them to take a step back and look after themselves when they are getting burned out. Team members may feel they can’t stop working because the others around them are already stretched thin and can’t tackle any more. However, it’s precisely at these moments that it’s important they put their oxygen mask on first. If someone is not able to get through the stress they’re facing, how can they help others?

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Putting into place a formal and informal feedback system to identify early signs of burnout can go a long way.  In our company, we do regular one on one “emotional check-ins” with team members' direct managers to ask how they are doing or what they need help with, instead of just asking about work-related matters.

Beyond this, organisations may benefit from monthly eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) surveys sent out to team members asking them to rate their risk of burnout so management can take action when employees are still a few months away from burnout.

Offer wellness programs that work

Adding wellness benefits for team members, as well as mental and physical health resources that people can tap to prevent burnout, is a good first step, but it’s important to provide continuity of care. Look for a program where it’s possible for fitness and wellness professionals to communicate easily with one another by using technology, so all can benefit from the knowledge-sharing.

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Schedule time for team bonding

Given the global labour shortage, it’s hard for some employers to schedule time for casual interaction between colleagues. Virtual workshops for the entire team with an activity like leather crafts or a virtual escape room often work well.   In our company, each department is given a budget to organise monthly team bonding activities the group chooses, such as a board games evening or paddleboarding. In periods like the one we are in now, some of this bonding may need to take place by videoconference or from a safe social distance but it’s better to get started than not as the feelings of isolation stemming from remote working can add to mental stress and burnout.

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Ultimately, people need to connect with each other to feel their best. There’s a magic that happens when we come together in community to pursue our wellness and fitness goals that can be hard to replicate on our own. Taking a few small steps can make a world of difference at a time people need to prioritise their health and wellness the most.

Tatler Asia

Michelle Yong is a 4th generation family business leader in Singapore’s Woh Hup group and the CEO of Aurum Land, a Woh Hup subsidiary and real estate development company. In 2018 she launched Core Collective, which has propelled the professional growth of hundreds of fitness and wellness practitioners and business owners.

This piece is part of a collaboration between Tatler Asia and Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a global leadership community of chief executives, which counts more than 30,000 members from 142 countries among its members.

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