As an entrepreneur, you’re probably more driven than most other people—including members of your own team. While this drive may be good and necessary to build your business, it can also lead you to ignore your health and limitations. And because attitudes are contagious, ignoring your own needs for self-care can negatively influence the health, morale and productivity of your team. To paraphrase an old saying, “If you think self-care is expensive, try burnout.”

Burnout is a multibillion-dollar annual expense on businesses worldwide—all the more reason to incorporate self-care into your daily life and encourage healthy self-care among your employees.

Rest assured, self-care will not diminish productivity. On the contrary, self-care and productivity are complementary. Here’s a look at what self-care is, why it matters, and low-cost ways to incorporate self-care into your company culture.

What is self-care?

Self-care is taking initiative to do things that improve your mental and physical well-being. This can include:

  • Taking a walk after work every day
  • Eating healthy
  • Forming a regular sleep routine
  • Surrounding yourself with uplifting people
  • Taking up a non-work-related hobby
  • Writing in a reflective journal
  • Turning off your work phone after work hours
  • Spending uninterrupted time with family and friends

Why is self-care important?

Self-care prevents burnout. Personal care allows you to have healthy relationships and respond to stress appropriately.

By modeling what it means to take care of yourself–while also encouraging a culture that supports self-care–you’ll prevent burnout among your team. The result? Higher levels of productivity and higher employee engagement throughout your organization.

What does personal care at work look like?

  • Encouraging your team to use their vacation time (and enjoy it, hassle-free)
  • Creating a culture that promotes a healthy work-life balance
  • Create a culture of open communication
  • Offering mental health benefits and normalizing their use; i.e., removing the stigma
  • A generous–yet realistic–PTO policy

When self-care suffers, how should my team and I get back on track?

Accept that it’s probably going to happen. That alone will make it less daunting or catastrophic. For example, you may experience a stressful event–even something positive–and find your self-care lacking. Here are some tips for how to get it back:

  • Prioritize sleep; feeling well-rested does wonders for our disposition and coping skills
  • Identify your most important values and schedule time for them
  • Learn to say no; it’s easier to say no with tact and confidence when you know your most important values and priorities
  • Resist the tendency to multitask; instead, focus on one project at a time
  • Practice gratitude; this has been shown to improve quality of life – and it’s available to anyone
  • Find the humor! Whether it’s laughing with a friend or loved one, or watching silly videos on YouTube, laughter has been rightly called “jogging for the soul”

How do I prevent employees from using self-care as an excuse to work less hard?

While you cannot force others to take the high road, it’s important to remember that you hired your employees for a reason. Most likely, they are hard-working and responsible. Unless they give you a reason not to, why not simply set the expectations and trust them to come through?

By trusting your employees to use self-care responsibly, you’ll avoid micromanagement. You’ll also reap the benefits of having employees who can be trusted with autonomy and flexibility.

How will I know if our self-care at work initiatives are successful?

While self-care initiatives will not solve your organization’s problems overnight, over time you’ll see important benefits:

  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Increased employee initiative
  • Employees who are better able to take initiative, problem-solve and self-manage
  • Company goals get met or exceeded
  • Fewer silos, more teamwork across departments

Incorporate Self-Care into Your Company Culture Today

If your organization struggles with absenteeism, employee disengagement, or low productivity, part of your solution may be rooted in self-care initiatives. Whether you start small by encouraging your employees to take their vacation time or implement a more flexible PTO policy, you’re sure to see benefits–for yourself, your team, and your company.

Speaker, trainer, and coach, Gina DeLapa helps professional service firms, leaders and individuals create cultures they can be excited about. Gina has successfully taught both the mindset and skillset of leadership and has inspired audiences nationwide.

Personal care stock photo by Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock