Workplace Wellness – Not Woes!
Updated: Oct 3, 2020
I’ve been affectionately named ‘the solicitor,’ by my clients as a nod to my former life as a London Litigator, and while I look back with pride on my rigorous, hard-working, and driven career; I do know first-hand what burn-out feels like – and without it ever having to get that bad – the difference a productive, healthy, happy team, enjoying an even work/life balance can make for individuals on a personal level, and the greater good of a company.
When I burned-out, far-flung travel was the solution to my pursuit of health and happiness, however I know that not everyone can and wants to leave their corporate lives and jobs and head to the Himalayas! As such, I feel passionate about the subject of corporate wellness, as I truly understand the pain points which can lead to severe stress and anxiety and hope that I can give you tools, tips, insights, and hacks that will enable you to continue to do the work you love while being your healthiest self!
As part of my coaching services I run bespoke corporate wellness programs, to enable employees to feel supported and empowered in the jobs they do and love - but in a healthier and more sustainable manner - so that they can remain and grow in their roles as a healthier and happier version of themselves!
No Work Day Worries? Why Corporate Wellness:
Considering the number of hours we spend every day at our workplaces, it makes sense for employers to put measures in place which enable workplace wellness programs. Not only does corporate wellness affect the productivity output of team members, but it makes them feel good in all areas of life—including work.
Corporate wellness programs help motivate a holistic approach to employee’s wellness by steering an authentic culture of care and health in the workplace. In my opinion, a good corporate wellness program should stretch beyond healthy options in a vending machine, and discounted gym memberships; offering individual care to help harvest healthy habits to improve in and out of work, while increasing productivity, inspiring ambition and talent, and strengthening employee engagement.
Why Working Well - Works…
With growing concerns around health and wellbeing, corporate wellness programs are more relevant now than ever, as they can be fun, informative, and very engaging, they help employee retention, productivity and can reduce healthcare costs - they can also, considering the growing number of home/online/remote workers be adapted to an online format/delivery method. Outside of the office, wellness programs help guide overall strategies to adopt healthy lifestyles. Below are there reasons why these programs do work:
1. Improves Healthy Behaviour
A well-curated wellness program can help employees adopt and maintain healthy habits such as mindfulness, breathwork, positive mindset, regular physical activity, and healthy eating. It can also help them decrease detrimental health behaviours such as smoking, heavy drinking, undersleeping, and/or substance abuse to name only a few. Doing so can help employees to reduce the risk of health problems and prevent chronic diseases while becoming more health-aware.
2. Reduces the Risk of Diseases
Being highly stressed or anxious at work can lead to lack of exercise, lack of sleep and poor nutritional choices which in turn leads to problems like high blood sugar, high blood pressure, depression, burnout, etc.. A wellness program helps your employees learn to implement healthy choices in their lives, making them healthier in the long run, on a physical but also mental and emotional level.
3. Increases Employee Engagement
A company that establishes a wellness culture creates a focused, happy and engaged team, who understands how good health benefits their careers.
4. Reduces Stress
By offering wellness programs aimed at combating workplace stress, you can improve your employees’ productivity and performance. Activities like exercise and meditation can help them relieve stress and feel more relaxed.
5. Decreases Absenteeism
When employees are healthy and stress-free they are less likely to be absent from work – and when you feel happy, valued, inspired and your morale is high, you are likely to work harder.
6. Improves Employee Retention
A successful wellness program can help keep employees loyal and shows the company’s concern for their employees’ health and wellbeing.
7. Improves Employee Morale
Health and wellness programs create a sense of and satisfaction among employees, leading to a happier and more productive workforce in general.
8. Breaks the Monotony
Primal laws dictate that using your brain and using your creativity are great for your overall health, and the same applies in corporate wellness programs which can break up the monotony of the day by mixing things up, doing and learning new things that promote good health and fitness at the same time.
As you know, I live my life in a primal and predominantly active way, so I do understand how daunting it can be to find a way to get healthy sitting in the office; which is why I feel that it is essential that employers lead by example and create a culture of wellness at work – so why not try my ten Healthy Hacks for an Office-Life Overhaul set out below…
My ten Healthy Hacks for an Office-Life Overhaul:
Be mindful of that sandwich for lunch and those biscuit breaks! The office can be a dangerous place when it comes to eating patterns, as there is always a birthday cake, sandwich platters in lunchtime meetings, or a stack of chocolate bars next to the coffee machine, and these sugar-loaded carb-heavy foods only make your general state of wellbeing decrease as you become addicted to the sugar spike and find yourself on the hunt for your next sugar high in no time. My advice, avoid all the sweet things and bring an apple or some nuts in a zip bag if you really must snack!
Reduce alcohol intake. I remember the days of fancy boozy corporate parties or client entertaining evenings with free-flow bubbles, along with networking events, and Friday nights in the pub with colleagues. As exciting as this may feel (today) you pay the price for it – and the price tag is quite heavy – your health! Try to limit alcohol consumption and to become more aware of servings and frequencies of drinking events/evenings to reduce them as regular alcohol drinking is a major health threat. When ordering the next round during these events, why not order a soda water with a lime or lemon wedge and let everyone else think you are having a “drink” too if you are concerned about clients/colleagues’ opinions? Virgin drinks are a great way to keep attending these events and enjoy your colleagues and clients’ company while keeping your health on track!
Sit tight! Watch your posture when working - you really need to check in with yourself to see how your wrists are aligned, to make sure you are not too close to your screen, and to check whether your chair is adjusted correctly.
Invest in your desk, with a few accessories to support your long working hours: I would recommend that you wear blue light blocking biohacking glasses when working on the screen and that you place an under desk foot-rest. The simple addition of a footrest can reduce strain and promote better posture, all while preventing leg discomfort. Due to the importance of ergonomic work stations for employee health, many companies and organizations now offer in-house ergonomic assessments to get you set up properly. Check with your HR department if a posture assessment is available to help you be more comfortable at your desk.
Office greens, not blues! Add a selection of plants to your desk, and get some of the benefits of nature in your office. Indoor air is actually more polluted than outdoor, and plants like Peace lilies, Rubber plants, and Spider plants are great natural air purifiers. Adding them to your workspace can help to remove toxins from the air you’re breathing in. Plants also transform your desk into a more peaceful, tranquil, and engaging place, and my favourite mood-boosting (and easy to care for!) plant are Snake Plants, which give off oxygen and Philodendron which increase productivity.
Move when you can! I know most of the day in an office is spent sitting on a chair at your computer – but what you can do is move every chance you get. Instead of a chair gossiping session with your favourite colleague why don’t you go together for a quick walk around the block and a breath of fresh air (and you can still talk while you do that!) - instead of yet another seat down conversation catch up why don’t you suggest a walk & talk in the nearby park? Instead of the elevator, why not grab the stairs? When you wait for the coffee or the scan or printer why not flex your ankles to get a little blood flow up and down your chin? Find a way to move your body every hour for at least 5 minutes. Go for a quick walk, do some quick jumps in place, or some light stretching of your arms, legs, back, and shoulders.
Become a great single tasker. I know there is a trend to find it cool to “multi-task” when busy however as Primal Health Laws dictate, multitasking is an illusion - you end up doing two or three tasks at once and neither are going to be as good as if you were deep focused on one at a time. When working on your screen do that and that only - no distraction, no browsing, no entertaining thoughts about something else - be disciplined with a deep work focus session so that you can then free your mind up fully once you have completed your task.
Learn to Switch Off! When it’s time to turn off the screen, really turn it off. Set healthy and firm boundaries between your work time and non-work time. By that I mean allow yourself time to really let go of your workday. It does not mean you don’t care deeply for what you did or that you won’t check your email or phone at night if you have to - of course, do what you need to do to complete your work duties - but do allow yourself a clean break for your mind to “reset”.
Sleep more! Sleep is a very underrated tool for wellness. I know that it can be hard to sleep a lot when under pressure at work. I would suggest though that if you manage to sleep longer you will find yourself being more efficient and more focused the next day. Perhaps instead of binge-watching TV series to put yourself to sleep, you could turn off your TV or laptop one hour sooner that night for an extra hour sleep?
Join in! If your company offers lunchtime yoga or any kind of activities definitely sign up! It is a great opportunity to bond with colleagues on a different level while getting a bit of self-care and self-love while at the workspace. If your company does not offer these you could also suggest to HR (Check in with your HR department's Wellness/Work-Life divisions and seek out any programs or offerings that they may offer to help ) that it would be a great addition or if your company offers discounted gym membership don’t hesitate to join! If none of these are possible you can always buddy up with your favourite colleague for a little workout session or run together after work instead of the tempting pub crawl...
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… Always remember, Health is Wealth!