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Why Employee Wellness Should Include Training

When it comes to employee wellness and supporting your staff, many organizations will tout an employee assistance program (EAP) or other similar health-related benefits. What is less often considered is how important training and continuing education initiatives are to staff wellness.

A well-rounded and effective employee training program can make a huge difference in the overall mental and physical well-being of your staff.

I know this from personal experience. My first job out of college was as a behavioral health paraprofessional in a group home for women with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI). I was young — only 21 years old — and had no previous experience working with this population.

On my second week of the job, one of my clients experienced a crisis and required medical attention. It was a terrifying experience for me, and I was concerned for the well-being of my client. Despite the chaos of the moment, I remembered the training I received prior to beginning my job, which included in-depth education on how to respond to a mental health crisis and how to complete an incident report.

I was able to quickly jump into action and take the necessary steps to keep my client — and myself —safe. I credit much of this with the robust onboarding training my organization provided to all new staff.

Learning Leads to Confidence

The confidence that can come with knowledge has a direct impact on stress levels, and furthermore, the likelihood of staff burnout.

Unfortunately, many employees lack this confidence. One report found that almost one-third of employees feel insecure about their skills and job knowledge level.

Consistently facing this insecurity can have detrimental effects on staff mental health. According to Training Industry, this can lead to a vicious cycle in which employees develop low self-worth, resulting in pronounced feelings of inadequacy. Consequently, this will negatively affect your staff’s ability to provide quality care to the people you serve.

Employee confidence at work and wellbeing go hand-in-hand. Providing quality training — especially during onboarding — will remove any doubts they may have about their work. Assessing for any knowledge gaps and then personalizing training to address those gaps can also improve employee confidence, reduce stress, and improve service outcomes.

I often think about this when I remember that first crisis incident I experienced. After all was said and done, my supervisor told me that I had done everything right. I was surprised, considering that I felt lost in the moment.

Later on, I realized the quality of training I received prior to starting that role is what really saved me. My training led to confidence, and my confidence allowed me to manage my stress and do what was best for my client.

Continuing Education Is an Investment in Your Staff

Onboarding isn’t the only time where quality training can improve staff well-being. Providing opportunities for continuing education is an excellent strategy to expand learning while also allowing staff to improve their confidence and well-being.

The organization I worked for offered excellent opportunities for continuing education. For example, we were given the choice to participate in the Hearing Voices That Are Distressing training, meant to help staff better understand and empathize with individuals who experience auditory hallucinations.

We were encouraged to take elective e-learning modules on topics that could help us better serve our clients — anything from substance use disorders to understanding the Medicaid system were offered. We were also encouraged to use our employee assistance program to access courses on physical and mental health topics.

It’s important to remember that your staff are assets to be developed. Providing continuing education is an excellent way to invest in your staff’s growth and support their overall well-being.

Retaining a Well-Cared-For Staff

The benefits of blending employee wellness initiatives with learning extend to your retention efforts. Employees who feel cared for, are knowledgeable about their jobs, and confident in their positions are much more likely to stay. They are also more likely to be loyal to your organization and provide better client care.

40% of employees who receive poor job training leave their positions within the first year. At an average of $2,500 to replace a frontline employee, this quickly becomes a burdensome cost on organizations.

Had I not been as well-trained, I honestly doubt that I would have stayed at that job. I also doubt that I would have stayed long if my organization did not actively invest in my well-being.

However, the fact that I was confident in my abilities, and that my organization actively invested in a robust training program, led me to stay until I was ready to leave my hometown for graduate school two years later. I was able to utilize our EAP when I needed help and seek out more information when I felt I was lacking. I believed my organization truly cared about my well-being.

This investment was invaluable to me, and eventually led to my career in social work. It’s important to not doubt the benefit of employee wellness and learning initiatives — these benefits do exist, and they matter to your team.


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