There has certainly been an increase in the amount of attention given to Employee Wellness programs lately, much of it centered on the amount of stress everyone is experiencing. But I think it’s a good idea to explore the truth behind all this stress talk before you or your HR department jump on this bandwagon. Is employee wellness just another fad meant to pad the pockets of quick talking quacks? Or does the health and well-being of employees really matter? Does it actually have an impact on a company’s bottom line — whatever that line may be?
I think the best way to determine an answer to this for your company is to get an understanding of what we mean by “wellness”. If we mean that people should stay healthy enough to drag themselves into work, then perhaps employee wellness can be limited to posters that encourage all employees to wash their hands and drink more water. As long as tasks get done, and it doesn’t really matter who does them, then I guess attention to true health might be only slightly important.
If, on the other hand, it is important to you and your business that your employees be able to problem-solve, respond to questions and requests, initiate action, interact with customers, clients, or services, contribute to team tasks, and positively represent your company, then you might want to invest a little bit more in how your employees actually feel about their health, their work environment, and the company to which they are expected to devote their time and loyalty.
In order to accomplish thoughtful, creative, and interpersonal tasks, we absolutely must be at our physical and emotional best. We think better, react better, volunteer more, when we feel energetic and clear-headed. Nutrition, exercise, and environment all play a role in how we — and that means your entire work force– conduct business every day.
Let’s look at the cyclical problems that perpetuate under a negatively stressful work environment:
“According to data released in the 2013 Work Stress Survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College, 83 percent of Americans are stressed by at least one thing at work, an increase of 10 percentage points when compared with the numbers from 2012.”
There are many “things” that can cause this stress, but a heavy workload seems to be one of the main contributors on a daily basis, so let’s examine this more closely. Does this mean that today’s work force is unable to handle the demands of challenging work? Long hours of work? Confusing work?
In order for your corporate wellness plan to address the problem of “workload” it is important to explore the amount, type, and satisfaction level of the work your employees are being asked to do. If your company environment is one that creates drama, this could add to a perception of workload. If types or amount of work are being added to an employees day, whether from budgetary needs or creative design, that too can add to a heavier workload.
Some ways to address the stress and workload of employees, is, paradoxically, through the nurturing of a reflective, focused environment. And this means giving ourselves the time for this. Workload is a perception because we measure it against the amount of time we have and other tasks and their respective time. By allowing a space and time for focus and reflection, planning and creation, follow-through and even meditation, we can actually allow employees to produce, create, and complete in a fluid — and therefore less stressful — manner.
Yoga is a natural solution to counteract workplace stress because it provides that time and space to draw attention to oneself, to focus on a relaxed and steady breath, to open the mind to creative thought, and to resolve conflict. Yoga can take 10 minutes or 2 hours — but the results will be exponentially greater than whatever time is invested. And best of all, Yoga principles can be applied throughout the rest of our day, allowing us to stay focused, relaxed, and creative, well beyond the mat.
And that’s good for everyone, isn’t it?