There has been a lot in the media recently about wellbeing in the workplace. Everyone seems to be talking about it. Is workplace wellbeing really all that important? In a word, yes.
Indeed given the simple calculation of time we spend in life surely the waking hours being just as important as the sleeping hours, we can and do need to treat the working hours as really important releative to our all round wellbeing. The mind drives the action, response, intentions, outcomes. The body is nothing without a good mind. I was brought up in a very happy home, not a perfect childhood but my father’s military background influenced some of the grit and determination I have and factually we need to practice mind over the matter.
These days we are immeasurably more connected. Perhaps our lives are more stressful than ever, (perhaps though in some ways with convenience of nearly everything, not as stressful as centuries ago?) Nevertheless we live in the “now,” with a never ending list of things we should or could be doing. Stress and insomnia are on the rise, and if you think trends like that won’t affect your business, you are wrong.
While we can’t do much to address the stressors on our employees outside of work, albeit I think the gig economy means work life is becoming one, we can do our bit, not only to make work a better environment, a happy place to be but also to provide assistance with wellbeing. Why? Because a happy workforce is a proven more productive resilient and able workforce.
Ultimately I want to be surrounded by talented people, people who make fast, able decisions and have endless energy, more than my own. Employing A-grade players as Jim Collins says in Good to Great, should be the imperative of every CEO. Making some people move from good to great is part of the organisational investment in people worth acting on.
Irrespective of this life is tough. We all go through different pulls and pushes as we grow and we should all be conscious of each other at times when support is required. I have never understood the stupidity of leadership who make any issue of life’s challenges.
Trust your teams; encourage them to watch school sports days and nativity plays, and be there when they need to have time to look after the sick and elderly. Do you want people with dentistry needs grumpy at work, rather than solving the problem and bounding back with loyalty due? 99.9% of the population know life is full of the demands of give and take. Do your giving early in the wellness stakes and the payback will speak for itself, boosting profit and possibly like me, bring you personally other ongoing benefits.
Nobody likes to see another person suffer, and if there is something we can do to help with that then we absolutely should. There are boundaries and consistency matters but let’s be more honest about the importance of wellness, mind and body, always.
Here are 8 tips for improving wellbeing in your workplace:
Cultivate a friendly working environment.
Whether you have people working in your office or scattered around the country, a friendly working environment where people feel comfortable and safe will go a long way to ensuring workplace wellbeing. Smile at people; ask how they are and listen to the answer. Take an interest in your team members and how they are doing. If someone has something stressful going on at home, is there anything you can do to make their working life a little easier? According to the Bob Nelson book, there are 1501 ways to reward employees. The book gives endless ways in which you can improve the mood, celebrate progress and find ways of engaging well with your people. Put your twist on it, brand align and personalise you care for the team members, and record the value so fair and consistent approaches are applied across the business. Small things go a long way.
Make the office a lighter space.
Nobody wants to sit in a dark, dingy office with fluorescent lighting and no air! Did you know that workers who have a view of the world outside are 25% more productive? Exposure to natural light can boost productivity by 18%. If you can’t make that work, just getting better lighting can improve work and wellbeing rates. If you are a cutting edge office and have total freedom for workspace there is of course give and take – workspace casual can create some challenges in team comfort. Something I am currently struggling with as I have had to train myself to be able to work anywhere but I am learning not everyone can do this.
Look at the air quality in your office too.
Good air quality can make a big difference to how you all feel in the office. After all, at least some of your staff will be spending a good seven hours a day there so if it is stuffy and airless it will make people lethargic and unproductive. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on air conditioning though! Something as simple as keeping windows open a little to keep air flowing can make a big difference. If this is not feasible, invest in some plants for the office (and nominate someone to be in charge of watering them!) Plants can help to freshen the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen – plus they brighten the place up a little and make it feel less clinical and “office-y”
If you can decorate your office space, look into which colours will work best for you. Green is known to reduce stress, and blue promotes focus – hence why we chose these colours for the Stress Less and Focus balms at Scentered. You don’t need to paint entire walls bright blue; adding accessories here and there can help to improve the look and feel of your office. The recent arrival of some cheap plants we bought to enhance an exhibition stand have made my London flat feel a better place to be. In the past I gave free reign to the Pacifc Direct team to paint colours of their choice so we had the sunshine corridor in one place; you could not arrive in the office without being hit with positivity. Naming rooms for fun and engagement – all these small efforts to communicate positivity, these things count.
Give employees space to chill out.
Have you experienced the brilliance of the new flexible environments such as TOG (The Office Group)? This is the place and space and style and environment not just the young want to work in but all people should be working towards the latest in best learning environments that help performance. Business is a race, not a game but that does not mean fun at work does not have a currency.
I get it; office space is at a premium and very few people have the money to pay for space that won’t be used. But there is a lot to be said for having a break area or even a small outside area where people can go – not just to smoke on their breaks! Getting some fresh air and getting away from one’s desk can have a big impact on how we feel. This is especially important if you’re asking your staff to be creative in any way – they need to take that time out to recharge their batteries. If you don’t have an outdoor space, make suggestions of local parks people could go to on their breaks.
Don’t sit in meeting rooms.
During my days at Pacific Direct, I grew so tired of endless meetings in board (bored!) rooms where we all just slumped over our coffees and tried to stay awake. Instead, I had everyone bring trainers into work, and we had walking meetings whenever possible. Obviously if you’ve a team of fifty who all need to take part, a walking meeting is a bad idea. But if you need to mull over an idea with a couple of people, get outside to the nearest park and discuss it there. You’ll feel better; your fellow meeting attendees will feel better; the people you work with will appreciate your collective improved moods.
When you’re dedicated to your work and there’s plenty to do, it can be tempting to just sit in front of a screen for seven or eight hours every day. That’s fine if you have an urgent deadline to hit, but doing this all day, every day will eventually lead to lower productivity as well as aches and pains and generally feeling a bit rubbish. Encourage your team to get up and move about every hour or so – whether that’s taking it in turns to do a coffee run or walking to a different office to talk to someone rather than picking up the phone. You could even invest in standing desks to keep people moving!
Trends in yoga at work, gym memberships, the value of these things may be appreciated by some not all. It can be difficult to find a balance so do variety and perhaps invest in my latest brilliant service – I’m very excited to have served VISA with Scentered’s resilience and breathing workshops recently. No need to change clothes; just gather the team and give them techniques that affect every aspect of daily life, no competition just a boost in a skill set that serves well for a lifetime. What have you done for your teams recently that improves everyone’s skillset? I can sell confidence and the value of confidence all day long, the power of mindful wellbeing – that is a commodity worth investing in.
A previous blog post was about the gig economy and remote workers; I really believe that having an office is often a luxury most of us can do without. Would your workforce be happier if they were able to work remotely, at the time best suited to them? If you can be flexible, do. Don’t drag people into the office just to fill space; get rid of it and hire a meeting room once a week or even month for a catch-up. There is a wholly under-valued workforce of mums that work; these women are powerhouses and horribly under utilised in this country. Flexible, juggling, agile, loyal, able and willing, priceless.
As time goes on, workplace wellbeing is becoming more and more important. If you want your staff to be happy and resilient, you need to look after them and make sure they are feeling good.