Why self-care is key to your work performance

Posted in: Business and society, Covid19, Employers, Research, Wellbeing

In their latest study, Yasin Rofcanin and Mireia Las Heras explored how leadership behaviours positively impact their subordinates. Their findings emphasised the importance of self-care - they found that employees who engaged in self-care responded better to supportive leadership behaviours and performed better at work. They also outlined some ways that managers and organisations can create a working environment that encourages self-care. This notion is especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic, as personal reserves are low and normal 'self-care' behaviours (such as going to the gym, or spending time with others) aren't possible.

Self-care is about loving who you are. It’s about treating your well-being seriously. It’s about taking proactive steps to lead a more energised life in work and family domains.

In our latest research published in Journal of Business Research, we focused on the question of the role of “self-care” as a key reservoir of personal resource. We suggest that self-care is what many employees need to thrive better at work and at home.

Looking at employees across various organisations in Chile, we aimed to explore the following question: How does supportive leadership, more specifically a ‘serving attitude’, trickle down and impact employees positively? Our findings revealed two key things:

  • Firstly, that it was essential that supervisors demonstrate family supportive behaviours. ‘Servant leaders’ tend to show a) emotional support, b) provide instrumental resources and c) engage in creative solutions to provide work-family balance for their subordinates.
  • Secondly - and core to the findings of our research - is the role of self-care. We found that by engaging in self-care, followers respond to the supportive leadership of their supervisors and perform better at work, as well as report higher degree of work-family balance satisfaction.

What do we mean with self-care and what are the implications for managers and organisations?

We conceptualised and measured self-care as a means of a) exercising regularly b) getting a good night’s sleep and c) having sufficient amount of energy left to communicate with significant others at home. In other words, it is about time invested in oneself, taking care of yourself by engaging in physical exercise and opening up yourself to others via sharing and/ or spending quality time with them.

What can organisations do to emphasise the role of self-care?

  1. Integrate exercise and care of physical well-being into the daily work routine. This recommendation is especially relevant and important in times of COVID-19 when many of us are not moving regularly, and can’t access normal physical outlets. Walks, jogs and group exercise sessions could be supported, sponsored and initiated by companies.
  2. A second piece of advice for managers and organisations is to invest in family and leisure supportive activities and incentives for their employees. Scheduling and location flexibilities constitute some of the examples which can be implemented as effective tools of managing the sleep and sharing elements of self-care.
  3. Provide room for proactivity in work and leisure domains. It is particularly crucial for managers and organisations to realise the role of ‘job crafting’ - employees will feel empowered and trusted if they can proactively modify and take control of how they do their work (as well as having time for leisure and family domains). Offering individualized HR incentives and tools to provide space for leisure and family crafting will not only motivate them but also open a platform through which resources accumulated in the family domain (such as positivity, gratefulness and energy) will be transferred back to the work domain. The outcome will be an enrichment pathway from work to home, which is an ideal goal for all involved from managers to their employees.

Posted in: Business and society, Covid19, Employers, Research, Wellbeing


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