There’s no secret it’s become “the norm” in modern work culture for both employers and employees to regularly feel overwhelmed and heavily stressed from their daily routines.
I recently came across the following job description posted online:
"Today I talked to the building about the cleaning staff and elevator, planned a party for 200 people, and negotiated a preferred rate with the caterers. I ordered 10 new desks based on our hiring projections for the next quarter, ran inventory, and ensured we had paper for the printer and snacks for the kitchen that would fit our budget and last for the entire month. Found a contractor to fix the broken pool table, went to the LAN room and just fixed the wifi myself, reviewed our lease to discuss security coverage with the landlord, saved $5,000 by renegotiating our phone contract, put out some fires - no really - there was a fire in the toaster; AND THEN I drank my morning coffee." --If that sounds like something you LOVE, let’s talk!
Many readers will knowingly nod and resonate with that description as similar to their current day-to-day. That makes me shudder! We live in a society where turnover is high and tenure averages are decreasing, with most people being asked to improve their performance at work with fewer resources and tighter deadlines. This combination of factors often leads to a work culture brimming with stressed colleagues and stressed clients, thus adding a great deal of tension and anxiety to the lives of employers and employees alike.
Since stress and anxiety can have a weakening effect on the immune system, this frequently leads to illness and fatigue, thus impacting employee productivity and creativity. Did you know individuals with chronic disease spend 4x times more money than the average person in healthcare costs alone? This can become a critical factor in managing the annual costs to the company for healthcare coverage, in addition to the loss of employee productivity. That leaves employers facing a serious dilemma in terms of demanding more from their employees while balancing overall productivity and continuing to minimize health risks.
THERE ARE COUNTLESS ACTIONS WE CAN TAKE EACH DAY, BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY, TO REDUCE STRESS AND LIVE HEALTHIER, MORE FULFILLED LIVES.
Luckily, there is more good news than bad! There are countless actions we can take each day, both personally and professionally, to reduce stress and live healthier, more fulfilled lives. It’s up to each of us as individuals, and even more so as leaders, to cultivate a mindset and culture of health and wellness.
I’d encourage you to think about and pay attention to the types of stress solutions your employees are talking about around the water cooler. Commonly, these conversations are focused around having several glasses of wine or a beer after work “to relax”, or eating rich and sugary foods while watching hours of Netflix in the evenings. In moderation, any of these activities can be okay however, they shouldn’t be part of your daily stress-relieving habits.
If you're looking to create a workplace environment with more collaboration, greater productivity, and less absenteeism, an organization-wide wellness initiative can help you get there! Healthier employees make for a stronger network as a whole, and achieving this wellness mindset, one that encourages employees to take care of themselves both at work and at home, always begins at the top with your company leadership.
There are many strategies to consider that can have a significant impact on workplace wellness culture for employees of all ages, with little-to-no cost and minimal time invested to implement. You and your employees can better manage your stressors and become more effective at work through incorporating some of the following principles into your daily routines and company wellness plan:
Work on your Mind Fitness: Meditate or practice mindfulness exercises for just 10 minutes a day to improve focus and concentration. You could also provide a reading list for relevant books, suggest downloading a meditation app and/or watching videos and podcasts from recognized leaders on the subject of mindfulness. For “bonus points”, host workplace trainings with a coach on mindfulness and meditation.
Stretch it out: Introduce the idea of workplace stretching and balancing poses, because we sit entirely too much. Periodically get up from your desk or meeting room to stretch and practice a few office-suitable yoga postures during the day. Practicing balancing yoga postures for a few minutes every day will sharpen the mind, improve memory and can reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety, which cloud brain function.
Eat well, be well: Provide healthy snacks and meals at company meetings and events, and encourage healthy lunchtime habits in the workplace. Eating a diet of real foods – wholesome, colorful and in their most natural state – can do amazing things for your energy levels, brain function and immune function. It all begins with switching your food mindset to viewing meals as a way to fuel the body and mind for everything life demands from you.
Drink more water: Promote the importance of hydration when addressing wellbeing with your employees. We hear about the importance of drinking water all the time and there is a reason for that. Your body is: 60% water. Your brain: 70%. Your lungs: 90%. The math adds up - drink more water! Proper hydration has a major effect on energy levels, improves your brain function, maximizes performance, flushes toxins and so much more.
Take time to heal: Encourage employees to take a sick day to restore and/or at least work remotely (if they are not already) when under the weather to keep illness out of the work environment and support a speedy recovery. As an employer, you have the option of separating sick leave from personal/vacation leave, which can encourage employees to do so. Remind them of these benefits and the importance of their wellbeing!
Take a walk: Encourage employees working from home to use walking meetings to get the body moving and stimulate creativity. You can use your call-time (when you don’t need to access your computer, of course) to walk laps in your house. We sit entirely too much in our current-day modern lives; movement helps release built-up tension and tightness caused by stress and sitting, and additionally stimulates healthy brain activity.
Embrace tech: Endorse fitness apps, health websites, and online resources through company communications. You can join me for live and on-demand meditation and mindfulness sessions in the Wellness Coach App every week. View the schedule and download the App here.
Take a break: Inspire employees to take a few short, 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day to allow the brain the time it needs to rest and re-focus. You could set a reminder to periodically get up from your desk to walk, stretch, do some deep breathing and/or practice a few office-suitable yoga postures or stretches throughout the day.
Financial Wellness: Provide workplace trainings on financial wellness and personal finance – financial issues are one of the leading causes of stress for employees. Taking care of your financial wellness is critical to achieve greater success AND greater peace of mind.
Spread goodwill: Support employees taking a volunteer day or two, throughout the year, to work with their favorite charity or spend time at their children’s schools. You may also consider facilitating or matching charitable donations, partnering with a charity as a company or even hosting your own event for the purpose of giving back in some way. Cultivating a culture of goodwill will benefit you and your teams in the long run!
If employees feel supported in taking care of themselves and their loved ones, they’ll experience the freedom to also be happier, more engaged, and more productive in the workplace. And they’ll have you to thank for it!
Learn more about our Corporate Wellness Programs for Conscious Companies to cultivate mindful leaders.