I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but work has become a lot more stressful than it used to be. Responsibilities have multiplied, a job is so much more than just something to do that pays the bills. You want to feel proud of the work that you do, you always want to go above and beyond. And the result is a huge amount of pressure, not just on you as an individual, but on each of your team members as well. Because they want to do well too – they want to feel that they are giving their upmost on a daily basis. But being at the top of your game all the time can take a lot out of a person.
This is why promoting wellness within the workplace, and outside of it as well, is so important for businesses operating in a modern world.
What Do We Mean By Wellness?
The term wellness can have so many different connotations. It can mean keeping yourself healthy in the short term – taking efforts to not get sick by practicing great hygiene, for example. It can mean staying home when you are sick so that you don’t pass your cold or flu along to others.
And then there is longer-term physical wellness. Making healthy choices when it comes to the things that you eat, exercising regularly, and investing in ergonomic solutions for your furniture and your technology. These things may not have an immediate impact on your health and wellness, but they can help you to prioritise long-term wellness, reducing the risk of health complications later in life.
And while all of these physical wellness focuses are important to your general well-being, your mental health and wellness are also critical areas to think about. I’ve already mentioned how stressful working in today’s world has become, and managing your stress and anxiety levels, and helping your teams to do the same, is critical to avoiding burnout and depression
How Does Wellness Affect Your Business?
Wellness is one of those things that companies don’t think too much about when everything is going well. When all of your teams are happy and healthy, it can be easy to take wellness for granted. But when winter comes along and the flu is doing the rounds, and half of your team members are sick, or when the stress of working becomes all too real and burn-out hits, it becomes easier to see how wellness affects the day-to-day running of your business.
Your team members are critical to your operations. When one of them feels under the weather and has to take a sick day, every part of your business feels their absence. Your other humans are, of course, usually able to pick up the slack, making sure that your business operates effectively. But what happens when multiple team members fall sick at the same time. Or when it’s not just one or two sick days that one of your humans is taking, but an extended absence from work due to burn-out.
Taking steps to ensure that your teams are happy and healthy can have a positive impact on your operations, ensuring that your humans are operating at their full potential. But it can also have a lasting positive impact on their lives. People who feel that their companies care about them – about their physical and mental wellness, about their lives and their stress levels – are far less likely to even look at other job opportunities, never mind actively seeking them out.
How Can You Promote Wellness Within Your Company?
There are plenty of different ways that businesses can adopt wellness and make it a priority within their workspaces:
• Provide A Supportive Work Environment
Whether your teams are working from the office or from home, there are measures that you can take to show them that you care about their health and wellbeing.
Your humans work together every single day, and have the opportunity to connect with each other on a personal level, rather than just focusing on work. Which is why as management, having an open communication policy which allows your humans to talk to you, and to each other, about how they are feeling, without worrying about repercussions for their work, is extremely important.
Encouraging discussions on health and wellness between your team members, checking in on a regular basis to see how they’re doing, and feeling free to discuss their lives outside of work, their challenges, their stress levels and more, will see your humans feeling supported and cared for.
• Be Flexible Wherever Possible
Not every position in your business can be entirely flexible. There are certain roles that do require an 8 to 5 presence, and the people who fill those positions can’t be working from 12 to 9pm instead. But wherever flexibility can be allowed for, it should be, even within those roles.
It’s all about empathy and understanding. Because life doesn’t get placed on hold while you’re at work. If an emergency situation comes up like a child falling in the playground, or a husband getting sick and needing to be taken care of, or a pet needing to be taken to the vet, having the flexibility to take a longer lunch and work in an extra hour later can make a huge difference to a team member’s stress levels.
And flexibility shouldn’t only be offered in emergencies either. There are day-to-day tasks that your humans need to find the time for – going to the bank, or the post office, or the traffic department, for example – which can often take more than an hour, and simply can’t be done over weekends or after work. Understanding this and providing leeway for your teams to be responsible for their own time, as long as their work gets done, is critical to their wellbeing.
• Encourage Your Humans To Take Regular Breaks
So many jobs involve sitting at a desk all day, every day, just staring at a screen. Which, frankly, isn’t good for anyone’s posture, eyesight, mental state, or general wellness.
By encouraging your teams to engage in physical activities, like taking a break every hour or so to stretch, take a walk around the block, or just step outside and take in a bit of sunshine, you can immediately help your humans to disconnect from work more regularly, and reduce their stress levels.
Better yet, encourage your team members to take breaks together wherever possible. At Solid Systems, we have rituals like Random Acts of Coffee, Get To Know Your Neighbour and Eat Lunch Together, which encourage our humans to connect with each other outside of an office setting. This becomes a good excuse for taking a break from their everyday routines, while still working towards our company goals of togetherness, empathy and understanding, and feeds into the idea of Solid Systems as a supportive environment to work in.
• Provide Ergonomic Workspaces
Far too often, people who work from home are using any available space as their ‘office’, rather than having a dedicated area to work in. What this means is that they’re working from the couch, or from their beds, or using a dining room chair to sit in, and using coffee tables, dining tables, or any other available flat surface to work on. And while these solutions may be fine in the short term, in the longer run, they have the potential to cause a lot of damage.
Whether your teams are working from the office or working from home, you have the opportunity to provide them with the right equipment to do their job. And part of that equipment is proper desks and chairs which will support their posture and help them to work comfortably, and prioritise their long-term health and wellness.
• Make It Part Of Your Company Culture
It’s one matter to say that you care about the health and wellbeing of your humans, but actions speak louder than words. By making healthy habits part of your company culture, and something that you live on a daily basis, you are not just making a commitment to your team members, but are helping them to connect to your business, your goals and your values. This will provide them with peace of mind that you truly do care for their wellbeing, not just because you are wanting them to work efficiently, but because you care about seeing them live their best lives, and want to be a part of helping them achieve their own personal goals.
How Can You Encourage Wellness Outside Of Working Hours?
While taking steps to promote health and wellness within your workplace is important, there are also steps that you can take to encourage your teams to live healthy lifestyles outside of the office environment, taking wellness seriously within their homes and personal lives as well.
• Promote A Healthy Work-Life Balance
By encouraging your teams to disconnect from work when office hours are over, you can promote a healthy work-life balance which will help your humans to destress. Being able to switch off when the company is closed will provide your humans with an opportunity to do the things that they live with the people that mean the most to them, rather than having to stress about work 24/7.
Enforcing policies like shutting down machines and turning off notifications outside of office hours, or encouraging your teams not to send work emails after 5pm (whether they’re working flexible hours or not), will see everyone feeling refreshed, focused, and better prepared to face new challenges during working hours.
• Provide Incentives For Health & Fitness
A bit of healthy (yes, pun intended) competition can be great for morale. Having incentives like small prizes or bonuses when your teams achieve a fitness goal, or having a small reward like a nice dinner for the person who manages to get the most steps in during the course of the month, will encourage comradery and friendly competitiveness between teams, and see them developing healthy exercise habits as they go.
• Help your Humans To Grow
I’ve spoken a lot in this article about physical and a bit about mental health, but there’s another aspect of wellness that is just as important. And that is personal growth. Whether it’s learning new skills, studying new concepts, or finding innovative ways to accomplish tasks, helping your humans to grow within your business, and outside of it, will help them to feel proud of what their achievements.
And growth doesn’t always need to be work-related either. Providing opportunities for learning that fall outside of their roles will show your humans that you want them to live their best lives, and be the best that they can be, whether it’s in their jobs, or in their personal lives.
• Celebrate Achievements
Achievements come in all shapes and sizes. It could be passing an exam that you know one of your humans has been studying for, or getting a drivers license after taking the test twelve times. It could be a milestone, like celebrating one year at your business, or like celebrating ten years of marriage. It could be completing a marathon, or achieving a personal goal like taking a walk around the block every day for a month.
You’ve got to be able to celebrate life in all of its moments, big and small. And by celebrating special moments with your humans, whether they are personal or work-related, you can further a person’s sense of achievement, help them to feel proud of what they do and who they are, and see them truly living a happier, healthier, better life.
Where Does Solid Systems Come Into The Equation?
We’ve always seen one of our goals as helping humans to live their best lives, to connect to each other in more meaningful ways. And we truly believe that technology can help your company to connect your humans. It might be through Microsoft 365 solutions to help them work smarter, rather than harder, leaving your teams with more time to spend on projects that make a real difference to your business. It might be by providing exceptionally human IT support that goes beyond just troubleshooting and actually helps you to find lasting solutions. It might be in helping you to find the right hardware that makes everything you work on run smoother, faster, better, leaving you with less frustration. Or it might be finding ways to help your teams and your business reach and exceed your goals.
Whatever human solutions you may be looking for to help your teams work in more connected and healthier ways, Solid Systems is here for you. Want to learn more about what we do and how we support teams around South Africa and the world? Get in touch with us today.