4 tips to set wellbeing goals in the new year

Koa Health
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While not everyone makes (or keeps) New Year’s resolutions and some even find the custom a bit stressful, the changing of the calendar year offers an excellent opportunity for employers to reflect and set priorities for the year ahead. Financial and business objectives are always top of mind, but you can’t make them happen without your workforce. And workers everywhere are struggling with mental health.

Mental health struggles are hitting the global workforce harder than ever before. Yet despite employers’ ongoing efforts to support employee mental health and wellbeing, 57% of employees report their workplace has a negative impact on their mental health and are unable to confirm the existence of easily accessible mental health support services in their workplace.  To further underline this ongoing need and employees’ desire to continue working on their mental wellbeing, 45% of adults said their top New Year’s resolution for 2023 was improving their mental health. 

People spend nearly one-third of their lives—around 90,000 hours— at work. The massive amount of time workers spend at their jobs, paired with their trust in the resources employers provide for health, puts employers in a place to positively impact employees’ quality of life.

Employers are uniquely positioned to support their people, and not just because working adults spend most of their waking hours at their place of employment. It’s a matter of trust – research shows that more than any other care provider, including public health systems and private medical insurers, employees trust their employers to offer them tools and solutions for health.

Dr. Oliver Harrison, CEO, Koa Health

In a survey we conducted of 500 business leaders across the U.S. and the U.K. in late 2022, employee quality of life was the #1 reason cited for investing in employee mental health. It easily outranked key business metrics—among them, productivity and talent attraction and retention. 

75% of those surveyed expected mental health to improve in 2023. One of the main ways they planned to implement positive change was by improving communications and transparency around mental health at work. 

Find out what business leaders in the U.K. and the U.S. are planning in 2023 Mental Wellbeing Trends: The Executive Summary.

But while increasing transparency and openness around mental health is an admirable goal (much like improving mental health), it’s not concrete enough to be useful. For personal resolutions to be achievable, they must be process-driven and broken down into practical actions. The same approach can—and should—be applied when setting organizational goals.

Here’s how your organization can support the wellbeing of your people and your business by setting effective, attainable goals:

1. Get clear on your why

If you know why a goal (such as improving employee mental health and wellbeing) matters to your organization, you’ll be less likely to abandon it. Your “why” becomes especially crucial when you have a few days (or weeks, no judgment) when you make less progress than expected, get stuck, or experience setbacks along the way.

2. Be flexible about the how

Some hiccups are unavoidable, even with the best plan A. So it’s best to be flexible about how you’ll achieve your goals and have a backup/restart plan or two ready to go. Keep a few additional approaches handy (let’s call them Plans B-C) to stay on track with your goals despite any uncomfortable interruptions. And if you feel really discouraged at any point, it may be time to revisit your why.

3. Break it down into small, measurable actions

To make progress, you need a process with clear, actionable steps. When those steps don’t quickly come to mind, it can be helpful to imagine what success would look like. For example, a workplace culture that is transparent and open about mental health might look like people talking to their peers about mental wellness habits like meditation or regular check-ins between line managers and employees. It could also look like leadership sharing their struggles in addition to the tools and techniques they’re using to improve their wellbeing in meetings and communications.

4. Implement and iterate

Try to avoid getting bogged down in minute details. Instead, start with something you’re fairly sure will resonate with your team and can implement quickly and easily. The best way to gain momentum and reach your goals before another new year arrives is by rolling out something quickly, gathering feedback, and leveraging these learnings to make gradual and continuous improvements. Though change can be intimidating, your workforce will appreciate knowing that their input is valuable and is helping to shape your organization’s goals.

While having open conversations around mental health at work can feel difficult in the moment, they’re vital to creating a company culture that centers around employee wellbeing. Taking those first few steps can seem small in theory, but may take more effort than expected. Make room for flexibility and remember to acknowledge the progress your organization is making along the way.

Find out what developments industry leaders foresee for mental health in our 2023 Mental Wellbeing Predictions from the Experts ebook.

Resolving to make mental wellbeing a priority at your organization this year? Contact us at info@koahealth.com, or schedule a call with one of our experts here.

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Koa Health

The Team @ Koa Health

Our diverse team of developers, researchers, psychologists and behavioral health experts work together to create practical, thought-provoking content to accompany our range of digital therapeutics.