A healthy, productive workplace is no longer viewed simply as a feel-good environment for just organizations. Healthy and happy employees result in a highly productive company and a robust bottom line. When management prioritizes and encourages physical and mental wellbeing, companies and their employees benefit from superior organizational and personal performances. Several highly successful studies showed that improved workplace wellness results in significant enhancements to productivity, creativity, employee satisfaction and overall performance.
Unfortunately, a recent North American Workplace Survey on Workplace Trends revealed that employees aren’t feeling well enough to perform at their greatest potentials. Using the Staples Advantage Workplace Index, the survey found that more than half of employees felt overworked and burnt out. With the current financial climate and the increasing expectations from employers, employees are anxious to maintain their jobs at all costs. Furthermore, working hours have increased over the years, as has the need to remain logged in and contactable beyond office hours.
As a manager, you have high decision latitude and can help your employees defuse stress and enhance their performances by encouraging them to strengthen their physical and mental health. Implement these five simple strategies to transform your workplace into a wonderfully healthy and productive environment.
- Encourage personal control.
Employees experience the greatest degree of stress when they feel out of control. When they have some control and flexibility in how they perform their tasks, employees are far more productive and are able to better manage stress. Following the karoshi epidemic in Japan and throughout the rest of Asia, where employees were literally working themselves to death, a great deal of research has been conducted on workplace wellness. A number of studies demonstrated that high job strains, such as high production demands, low levels of control and lack of social support, can result in heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
- Focus on the people, not the numbers.
In any business, it’s easy to become fixated on the figures, financials and profits. But as Jon Gordon, author of The Shark and the Goldfish: Positive Ways to Thrive during Waves of Change, pointed out, “It’s not numbers that drive people, but the people that drive numbers.” Take a step back and remember that, ultimately, an organization’s failure or success is determined by the moods, energy, thoughts, behaviors and, most importantly, the health of the people who work there.
- Value recovery time.
Although the prevailing work ethic in most companies is that downtime is time wasted, research suggests otherwise. Cognitive function, creativity and overall performance levels have been shown to improve dramatically after a short power break. Allow employees to take a power pause at least every 90 minutes.Encourage them to use these micro-breaks to get up from their desks and stretch their muscles to stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and throughout the body. Breathing exercises, meditation and other mindfulness techniques prevent the stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol, from surging and allow for mental and physical repair and recovery.
- Respect the biological clock.
Although managers expect their employees to be at their best at all hours of the workday, it’s an unrealistic expectation. As humans, we have a well-defined internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, which shapes our energy levels throughout the day. This precise and regular system facilitates the release of different hormones and enzymes at specific points through the day. There are peaks of naturally high energy and troughs of low energy and it’s impossible to fight this natural rhythm. A perfect example is the notorious afternoon slump!
- Promote HIIT!
Exercise is essential for defusing stress levels in demanding jobs. Encourage and inspire your staff to incorporate physical activities into their schedules. Any type of exercise is beneficial for relieving stress and enhancing health and longevity. In recent years, however, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been shown to significantly reinforce cardiac health, immunity and metabolic functioning. It involves exercising at a moderate pace, interspersed with 60 seconds of high intensity exercise, and then reverting to the moderate pace. This also burns off excess adrenalin, facilitating total body recovery.
Encourage your employees to get up and move. Have walking meetings or invest in standing desks so that they’re not sitting down for long hours. On top of encouraging exercise, promote healthy eating in the office. With the nutribullet Pro Workplace Wellness Kit, you and your employees can all power up with revitalizing and nourishing NutriBlast smoothies, chock-full of fresh fruits and veggies.
By putting these simple steps into practice, you can enhance productivity and creativity in the workplace and, most importantly, ensure that your employees are healthy and happy.