When you manage other people in your business, you have to pay close attention to their health, and sickness. Sick staff impacts on your business in a myriad of ways, all of them costly.
You know that prioritising and promoting wellness in the workplace is not only good for your staff, but for your business. Research such as that carried out by Deloitte shows that investing in employee wellbeing in the workplace has a compelling return on investment for a business.
But how do you go about it?
While there are many approaches you can take, such as flexible working patterns, exercise classes, providing healthy lunches etc, the most effective employee wellbeing initiatives promote holistic well-being. This means providing wellness solutions that address the whole person, not merely how they move their body, how they eat etc.
The Five Ways to Wellbeing model proposed by the New Economic Foundation offers a holistic approach to wellbeing that taps into our most profound needs as human beings – those of connection, physical movement, learning, compassion and giving, and awareness of the world around us.
The Five Ways To Wellbeing are Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give. They can form the basis for a powerful staff wellbeing program that will improve well being at work, combat the effects of stress in the workplace and give your business a boost in health too!
Humans are social creatures, hard-wired to thrive through meaningful connection with others.
Social wellbeing at work has a profound impact on well-being and effectiveness in the workplace. The workplace is the perfect opportunity to build our connection muscles, as we have to learn to get on with people who might not be in our preferred social circle. We have to learn skills of collaboration, negotiation, cooperation, service and more. The workplace is can also be a place of much unhappiness caused by poor relationships, whether through personality clashes, bullying, competition, jealousy etc. Poor working relationships can create or exacerbate the problems caused by stress in the workplace.
Helping staff to deepen their connection to one another can promote greater harmony and positive working relationships, and improve happiness and wellbeing.
Promoting wellbeing in the workplace can create a sense of connection with the company that stress can remove. If a person feels valued and cared for by the organisation they work for, they are more likely to feel a part of the organisation, are more likely to remain loyal to the organisation and to talk about their employer with pride.
The sedentary lifestyle that many of us live in the 21st century is causing terrible harm to health. Research suggests that too much sitting is linked to Type 2 diabetes, obesity, some types of cancer and premature death. Clearly, this is not good for health. It is not good for your business either, as the associated sickness will impact on your employees’ attendance and ability in work. The NHS recommends that we get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week, and reduce the time we sit.
We know that exercise is good for mental as well as physical health. It also promotes clear thinking and can boost creativity. An informal poll for The Do Lectures’ ‘The Stress Report’ book found that while only 5% of people get their best ideas at their computer, a staggering 43% found that inspiration strikes during exercise. Encouraging and supporting your staff to move their bodies more, by encouraging regular breaks as well as dedicated time for exercise, will not only improve their mental and physical health, but will increase creative innovation and performance, and reduce absence rates and presenteeism, increasing your business profitability.
Mindfulness is THE big buzzword in workplace wellbeing and in the wellness world in general. And with good reason. The ability to be present in your day is one that is being ever diminished in the modern world with its myriad distraction and demands on our attention. The practices of mindfulness remind us to come into the present moment, to sit with our emotions rather than numbing them out, and to fully engage with the task at hand or the person we are with. Being mindful and present is a powerful tool for managing stress at work as well as a happier life.
When we are able to bring these practices into daily life, and to the workplace, we can reduce stress, enhance the connection to the outside world, improve relationships, focus our attention, tap into intuition and creativity, and be happy. Pain and suffering exist largely in worrying about the past, which we can’t change, or feeling anxious about possible futures, which we can’t know. We can only ever truly be in the present moment, and learning to take notice of that moment has great benefits for all aspects of life. A mindful, fully present employee will do more in one working hour than a distracted one will achieve in a day. Adding mindfulness practices to your workplace wellbeing activities will benefit your employees and your business tremendously.
As an employer, you have already invested in your employees learning. You have trained them how to do the job, you make sure they keep up with changes and developments that affect how they do their job.
Or do you?
Lack of training for the job is a common cause of work-related stress. Employees feel overwhelmed and poorly prepared for their jobs, leading to undue and unnecessary stress. Giving them the correct training to do their jobs is not only a valuable investment, but it could also be a legal requirement. An employee who causes harm to themselves or another due to insufficient training could cost your business dearly in legal costs.
In addition to work-related training, helping your staff to learn about themselves, to learn about the world they live in and to learn strategies to manage their emotions and wellbeing will prove to be invaluable to the health of your business.
Teaching effective stress management strategies, and promoting health and wellbeing awareness in your staff will reap dividends in those who embrace the opportunity to learn.
Kindness and compassion are vital tools for cooperation and harmony in society and in the workplace. A workplace that is based on a culture of giving and cooperation rather than competition and one-upmanship will be a happier, healthier workplace. Some element of competition can be beneficial in working environment, as the great work produced by Lennon and McCartney in The Beatles will prove. However, when this competition comes at the expense of good, honest communication, cooperation and collaboration (which Lennon and McCartney had in spades for the first few years of The Beatles) it quickly becomes toxic, stressful and harmful.
What is the basis of your company culture? Do you encourage staff to work in harmony with one another, or is their life revolved around competition over targets? We work better when we work together, bringing the spirit of cooperation and collaboration into the workplace can boost health and wellbeing, productivity and team working.
How can a workplace wellness program from Rhondda Yoga help promote wellbeing in the workplace?
Rhondda Yoga offers wellness programs based on the holistic approach of Yoga. Blending movement, stress management and relaxation strategies, mindfulness practices, self awareness and compassion, a Rhondda Yoga wellbeing program will touch on all the 5 Ways to Wellbeing to promote greater health, wellbeing and resilience among your staff. I can tailor a program to suit your precise business needs, as I was able to do for Menzies Aviation recently, and will deliver lasting results that will give your staff powerful strategies to manage their wellbeing in the workplace.
When your organisation is responsible for safety and efficiency at the world’s airports, as Menzies Aviation is, it is vital that the people running your operations are operating at their best, and have effective tools to manage the stress that they encounter on an hourly basis.
The challenge brought together managers in a range of roles from across the globe, with people from Australia, Ameria and Europe. They had been working on a project to support SOS Children’s Village, a Spanish charity that supports vulnerable children, and in addition to fundraising and networking, they were engaged in a series of demanding physical challenges and fun team building activities.
I arrived towards the end of their time together, joining the group on Friday evening after they had completed a team building challenge,a competition to produce the best paella. The dishes were judged by the chefs at the restaurant we were eating in, and there was much good-natured competition between a group of people who had quite clearly bonded well as a group during their time together. As a vegan, I didn’t get to sample the team’s efforts (which all contained seafood of course), but I enjoyed the atmosphere and the evening enormously.
In the morning I enjoyed an early morning walk with Joe of the Innovation Beehive, in which we climbed over 200 very steep steps to stand at the top of a damn, where we chatted as we watched fish swimming, and a colony of vultures waking and stretching their huge wings! It was a wonderfully peaceful start to the day, and I reminded myself of the joy that comes from facing a fear and taking the action anyway (we were VERY high up, and that staircase we climbed felt very rickety!)
After a delicious breakfast, we prepared the room, and our wellbeing session began.
The Wellbeing Session room ready for the participants
We talked about wellbeing, and what welbeing means to the people in the group. Ultimately, for most people in the group, it came down to happiness and balance in life. I invited the group to complete a ‘wellbeing wheel’, which helped the group to see which areas of their life were most in or out of balance with what they wanted them to be. This is always an eye opening activity – as one participant shared, you can know intellectually, but seeing it on paper makes you really stop and notice the parts that aren’t working so well in life. Having completed my own wheel during the session as well, I can certainly vouch for that.
Let it go!
We then went through a series of loosening and relaxing practices to release stiffness and tension from the body. As the group had been involved in some very physical challenges throughout the week, they were very glad of the chance to relax their bodies. After the jattis, the group reported that this itself had made a huge difference and that they felt more relaxed in body and mind.
These practices are very simple but powerful exercises that can release tension, reduce stiffness and increase flexibility in the body. When you do this to the body, you impact the mind as well, as a stressed, stiff body creates a stressed, stiff mind. Letting go of physical tension and stress relaxes the mind and creates a great sense of wellbeing. You can discover these practices for yourself in this ‘Loosen up at lunchtime’ 30 minute practice you can do during your lunch break or in the morning before you start your day.
BREATHE the stress away
After this, I introduced The BREATHE Method for Wellbeing at Work, a model I am creating based predominately on Yoga principles. I will be sharing more about this in coming months, but to give you a taster, here is the outline
Balance – Balance of body, mind, emotions and spirit is needed for human health, happiness and effective functioning in the world
Restore – We have a range of tools at our disposal to restore our equilibrium, and bring us to well-being when we are out of balance
Eat, drink and be well – nutrition, hydration, and how we nourish our bodies and minds are essential to well-being
Attitude – how we show up in the world, both to others and to ourselves, impacts happiness and well-being enormously, so is worth reflecting on and taking care with
Time – we live as if we have infinite time, but really, we don’t, so it is important to be aware of what we do with our time and to use it wisely for health, happiness and growth
Health – healthy body and mind is all. If you are healthy in mind and body, then all aspects of life become easier to manage and more joyful
Evolve – how can we become better, in the way we live, the way we take care of ourselves and the world we live in, how can we grow and apply what we learn?
Throughout the session we talked about a number of concepts, both theoretical and how they relate directly to the issues that face managers in such demanding roles. Much insightful, inspired and eye-opening conversations were had, and I think that the team made some real breakthroughs in terms of how they will take care of themselves and their teams as they return to their regular lives.
The perfect location for a quiet, relaxed one to one session
We explored many other practices throughout the session, and ended with a 15 minute relaxation to allow the group to relax their bodies and minds. After the session we enjoyed a delicious ‘Wellbeing Lunch’ prepared by the hotel, and then I was delighted to be asked to spend some time working one to one with one of the team who was in some physical discomfort. We spent time on the hotel balcony, further loosening her body with the jattis, and working with Vibagha Pranayama, the basics of learning to breathe well. Again we ended with a long relaxation, and as she relaxed, I enjoyed watching some birds circling above, enjoying the peace, sunshine and scenery around me.
Getting my work/life balance
I returned to Madrid in the evening, and have spent a wonderful day exploring the Parque El Retiro, a wonderful place that felt so alive, buzzing with life and full of happy people enjoying the gorgeous surroundings and weather. I spent a wonderful few hours in the morning chatting with a South African lady, Lynnette, who was about to embark on a solo adventure on the Camino De Santiago, we chatted like old friends, it was beautiful to have such a great connection with a total stranger so quickly! After saying farewell to Lynette, and wishing her great adventures, I embarked on my one day Madrid exploration.
I could enjoy spending more time in Madrid, it is a wonderful city. I felt totally relaxed although very tired – a short lie down on my bed when I returned to my hostel turned into an hour and quarter sleep – my body clearly needed it, and I was glad to listen to it! I had walked a lot of miles in the Spanish heat, it was a wonderful day. I was overjoyed when Joe from the Innovation Beehive contacted me to tell me that my session had been talked about with great excitement after I left, and was still being talked about at dinner a full 24 hours later!
We recently worked with Esther on a Leadership programme we developed for emerging leaders from across the globe, for our client, Menzies Aviation. Recognising that stress, depression and mental health are key business challenges in every industry, we asked Esther to deliver a wellbeing session, to help our participants see how they can effectively lead themselves and others in a more holistic way.
Esther’s session was planned in accordance with the brief we gave her, but she was able to expertly adapt to suit the needs of the participants on the day. The session provided much food for thought for the participants, gave them valuable tools that they can take back to their teams and their own lives, and enabled everyone to relax and let go of tension and stress. Esther was professional while being warm, engaging and approachable and made all the participants feel at ease and safe in the space she created.
Mok O’Keeffe, Founder, The Innovation Beehive
How is stress impacting your company?
We know stress and poor health takes a terrible toll both on the wellbeing of individuals and on the organisations that employ them. We also know that healthy, happy staff perform better at work, are more loyal to their company, and take less sick leave.
To support organisations in achieving this, I offer a range of workshops and programmes to help businesses provide their staff with tools to better take care of their wellbeing so that they can perform better in their role and enjoy better health.
These programmes will teach very practical skills to manage emotional, physical and mental wellbeing, and will allow managers to learn and then disseminate the information to their teams. If you would like to know more, take a look here, and let’s arrange a time to talk about how I can help you meet your organisational wellbeing needs.
Stress at work is a rising problem in the UK, and across the world. Some shocking statistic recently revealed that stress related absence is on the rise in the UK, a trend which seems set to rise as the repercussions of Brexit continue to create uncertainty in the economy.
If you work all day, it can be hard to find time to exercise and keep yourself well. Yet that is one of the exact reasons why you need it! A busy working day with no time for caring for your body and mind will ultimately give way to illness and stress.
When I worked full time in an office, spending my days sat in front of computers, trying to bend them to my will, dealing with often conflicting demands on my time and attention from other staff and trying to manage my own mental health at the same time, I developed a powerful strategy to make sure I could keep a lid on my stress if nothing else.
At the side of my desk, I kept a Yoga mat, and at lunchtime, I would go to an empty room, roll out my mat and do a short practice. At the time I was using YogaDownload.com, and found that that small amount of time I took to my mat gave me the space in my mind and body I needed to enable me to work at my best in the afternoon.
On one particularly memorable day, when the organisation I was working for was going through a very challenging time and I was personally really struggling to cope (this was just a few months before I finally broke down) I was on the verge of walking out, never to return, when my manager told me to take an early break and go to ‘my yoga room’. When I returned 25 minutes later, I was like a new woman, ready to face the challenges the rest of the day had for us, for a while at least.
This short, 30 minute practice, is a simple practice that will allow you to release the tension you have stored up in your body throughout the morning, enabling you to go into your afternoon with a new lease of life, energy, clarity and peace.
Do you want more Yoga at work?
If you are in the South Wales area, you might be interested in asking your employer to provide office Yoga and relaxation to yourself and your colleagues as part of their staff wellbeing provision. Send this page along to your HR department and ask them to get in touch – it will benefit everyone if you, the staff, are loose and relaxed at work!
I’d love to know if this practice helps you, please share in the comments how you feel after doing the practice.