Discover Founder Ross’s views on workplace wellness, tips on how to manage stress and how businesses can help their employees experience a work-life balance.
What are some ways we can make our workplace healthier?
Eating well and being active are essential for a healthy and balanced life, not just a healthy workplace. I’ve asked my team not to eat at their desks to encourage taking proper breaks. Apart from that my advice is to do whatever works. Go for a walk, to the gym, sit on a ball or go out for lunch with colleagues, as long as it works for you. Leaders can help by offering staff flexibility throughout the working day. The best companies recognise that output is the most important measure, not how long you’re sitting at your desk or physically in the office.
Too often businesses pay lip service to wellbeing with complimentary gym memberships or healthy eating initiatives, ignoring the root cause of the problem. No amount of yoga mats or green smoothies are going to make you feel happy and healthy if you hate your job or your boss. There’s no such thing as a stress-free work environment (unless you are a mattress tester, perhaps), so the key is to make it worthwhile by finding a positive meaning in what you do.
What are some mistakes leaders make at work from a wellness perspective?
The biggest mistake most of us make is to put off our happiness and wellbeing to another day. ‘I’ll be happy after I’m promoted to CEO’ or ‘I’ll take better care of myself after this big tender goes in’. The research is clear, if we focus on taking care of our wellbeing now, it’s much more likely that we’ll succeed in whatever we do afterwards.
We also tend to neglect our mental wellbeing and we vastly underestimate the energy that it takes to force ourselves to do something we don’t love doing. The Sunday evening feeling of dread that’s followed by snoozing the alarm five-times on Monday morning and dragging yourself to work is unsustainable in the long-run and it’s not much fun in the short-term either.
We suffer this like the frogs in the slowly heating water do, normalising it and wondering if it was always so hot! It’s important to remember that work really can be something awesome. It can be the source of our greatest challenges and successes, a place where we make lasting relationships, give us direction and purpose, and offer us a platform to make a difference. By finding meaning at work, we can have a profound impact on our wellbeing. Try giving yourself permission to explore what things are like outside of the boiling pot. This is the place where you will discover what you like, what you’re good at and what matters to you most.
For work to be a meaningful experience it is essential to have open discussions with your employer and to talk about the things that are important to you. At Rise we achieve this by having monthly “happiness chats”. They are meetings with only one question: ‘Are you happy?’ They allow the employee to get things off their chest, talk about what matters to them, and shape their role to be as awesome as they want it to be. This builds trust and a better business environment by opening up possibilities that weren’t obvious before.
When we experience genuine interest and care about who we are, our struggles or concerns, and find an open ear for our thoughts and ideas, it validates and motivates us. If your business is doing this, chances are you’re on the right track for success.
What’s your top tip for dealing with workplace stress?
When it comes to dealing with stress, one method I’ve found applies most universally is shifting our thought patterns to view stress as a good thing. We often forget that in the right doses, stress can boost work performance without hindering your health. It’s really our perception of stress that causes the most damage.
Sometimes we lose track of why we’re there in the first place, and often we are totally disconnected from the impact of our work. When this happens we’re really just getting through the day. At Rise, we spend a lot of time helping businesses and workers reshape meaning in the workplace and reconnect with what’s important. Reframing can dramatically change our relationship with stress as something that gives energy instead of draining it.
Does work-life balance exist?
Work-life balance somehow got hijacked and now people talk about replacing it with resilience. I see it differently and think ‘survival’ is a pretty low bar to aim at, and I see flexibility as the answer. As a boss I want the best performance out of my team and as a human-being I want the best for my team. These things don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Work still needs to get done but it’s important to challenge the assumptions behind our work structures. I don’t think there’s a good reason we need to work 9-5 (or even longer hours) and I feel even more strongly about restricting ourselves to four weeks of annual leave. By offering the flexibility to co-create a positive work environment we can make work and life a more balanced and awesome experience for everyone.
Author: Kristie Taylor