Given the unpredictability of our current times, many people are feeling a range of emotions like fear, confusion, anxiety, and stress. The personal and professional have never been more intertwined, which means companies have an increased responsibility to consider their employees’ well-being and give them the tools they need to adapt and thrive.

In this excerpt from the Udemy for Business guide, Bringing out the Best — Connecting Workplace Wellness to Business Outcomes, we explore the essential skills that support happy and healthy employees and how leaders and people managers can prepare to succeed in their roles while taking care of themselves.

Essential wellness skills that help every employee adapt to change

What are the soft skills and topics that will promote employee wellness while also boosting engagement, productivity, and resilience? Here are two of our recommendations.

Change agility

Udemy’s VP of Learning Shelley Osborne recently shared her thoughts on developing the competency of change agility in her blog post, Boosting Change Agility During Uncertain Times. Here’s an excerpt: 

“Change is a part of life, but it’s safe to say that the entire world is coping with significant change at the moment. We’re all dealing with change and uncertainty in both our personal and professional lives — working from home, caring for children and extended family, and limiting our physical interactions with the outside world. Considering the current climate, developing change agility as a competency has never been more important.”

Growth mindset

CEO and co-founder of ReBoot Accel and Udemy instructor Diane Flynn explores the concept of growth mindset in her blog post, How to Foster a Growth Mindset in Times of Uncertainty. Here’s an excerpt: 

“According to Carol Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum based on their mindsets. Those who believe their abilities are based on innate talents — and therefore can’t change much — have a “fixed” mindset. Those who believe that success is based on effort are said to have a “growth” mindset. They believe that with hard work, you can ALWAYS improve. One way of differentiating is that a fixed mindset focuses on proving how smart you are; a growth mindset is focused on improving.” 

Preparing leaders to navigate change and drive results

The focus on employee wellness shouldn’t be limited to individual contributors, though. People managers and company leaders must remember to look after their own well-being, too — especially in times of significant change. A recent Harvard Business Review article explained, “Almost everyone needs connection to others and the opportunity to give and get support in the abnormal new normal of deep uncertainty and the fearful specter of a pandemic.” 

This is particularly important for leaders, writes Udemy’s Senior Vice President of People + Places Cara Brennan Allamano: “As People leaders, we’re held to account to help our businesses work through crises, but that doesn’t take away from the level of uncertainty that exists all around us.” Hear Cara’s advice for adapting to rapid change as a People leader in the Udemy Connect miniseries.

There has been a crisis in management for the past several years. Gallup reports that just 18% of managers demonstrate a high level of talent for managing teams and promotions to managerial positions are typically based on tenure and performance in a past role, rather than potential to excel in the next one. 

New managers often aren’t getting adequate soft skills training on how to handle stress and team dynamics, let alone guidance for managing themselves. 

We see from the responses to the Udemy Workplace Boundaries survey that, compared to their non-manager coworkers, managers are feeling more pressure to blur their personal-professional boundaries. For example, managers are more likely to say they let work take precedence over meals and relaxation time, with 59% of managers (vs. 46% of workers) revealing they feel pressured to work through lunch. 

This research shows us that for people managers, soft skills and their own well-being go hand in hand. If they haven’t yet mastered skills like time management, emotional intelligence, and handling conflict or difficult conversations, they’re likely to struggle in their role and compensate by working overtime. Companies can try to prevent overwork and burnout by helping their managers develop the skills that will help them cope with the challenges of being a people leader. 

For guidance on how to create a wellness program that supports employees and managers, be sure to download Connecting Workplace Wellness to Business Outcomes.