Every piece we’ve written in the last few weeks and months has opened in a similar way; times are hard. It’s hard to think of life pre, or indeed post, lockdown and it is a small ray of light at the end of the tunnel that we are starting to see small changes and adjustments being made to hopefully restore some semblance of a ‘normal’ lifestyle.
A topic that has never been more important is that of wellbeing: the wellbeing of your friends, family, colleagues and yourself. It is a cruel irony that the harder life gets, the harder wellbeing can be to achieve and maintain. At SmartPA HQ, we talk a lot about work/life balance; it’s a very common benefit for our clients and our SmartPAs, and it is something we believe in very strongly. However, balance isn’t necessarily enough at the moment, and can be difficult to achieve if you’re trying to balance work, home, family and the other pressure of staying sane whilst looking at the same four walls all day, every day.
So what is wellbeing? Wellbeing, or wellness, is a state of being where you, as an individual, generally feel in a good place. This can be physical, mental, emotional… it comes in many forms, each as important as the next. As an employer or a business owner, you have a responsibility to maintain and respect the wellbeing of your team. It is worth remembering that often, people don’t leave their jobs, they leave the people they work with and under. Any work on wellness in the workplace can only improve these relationships and therefore increase employee retention, making it a strategic, performance-based issue as well as an HR and holistic focus. Happy people make for a much better customer experience!
As well as being morally appropriate, it can be advantageous. A business made up of people who feel supported, encouraged, respected and understood is likely to perform far better than one where the team feels overworked, undervalued, drained and ignored.
Now, we must qualify here that we don’t mean that every office needs an in-house yoga studio and free smoothies on tap. Maintaining an individual’s wellbeing can be as simple as understanding their need for flexibility to support a young family or as comprehensive as a wellbeing manager who oversees each individual’s personalised plan to be their best self every single day.
Good wellbeing practice in the office requires a few things to ensure it is taken seriously; emotional intelligence and a top-down adoption model. The former is important to ensure you are tuned into the individual needs of your team; one may need a run at lunchtime to destress before an afternoon meeting, another may need a short meditation session mid afternoon to stay focussed and calm on service or sales calls. The latter is crucial to remove any fear of stigma or judgement from junior members of staff. If the C-suite are encouraged to design routines and patterns that benefit their wellbeing, then the rest of the team will soon follow suit without any hesitation. Everyone is different, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ model.
For the employees reading, if you are lucky enough to work for an employer that recognises the importance of your wellbeing, respect that and never take advantage. Wellbeing is designed to put you in the best frame of mind and self possible, not to give you extra long lunches or an excuse for an afternoon nap.
Wellbeing activities for the office:
- Yoga & meditation sessions
- Team-building activities
- Quiet space in the office
- Health-based challenges
- Charity cycles
- 10K step competitions
- Friday fun afternoons
- Free fruit & healthy snacks
- Gym membership allowance
- Employee benefit programme
- Flexible/remote working options
- Walking meetings
- Coaching programmes
- personal /’unsick’ days
- Onsite childcare
At SmartPA, we try and mix things up. From inter-departmental quizzes to lunchtime yoga, treasure hunts to Friday fizz, we like to introduce and trial different things to keep life fresh and make sure our approach to wellness suits all different types of people. There is no accounting for the nuances and preferences of human nature, so we try and be equally as flexible. Our top tip to employers is to be open-minded. Things that may seem odd can bring out the best in people; a walking meeting may seem a bit millennial but try it - you’ll be surprised at the new ideas that flow as a benefit of the fresh air and endorphins.
Generally, for this to work in a professional environment takes trust and respect on both sides; employers need their teams on good form to perform, and happy employees are much more likely to remain in a job for longer, making time invested in training much more rewarding for the employer. Employees need to feel invested in and trusted in order to flourish and do their best work. It is a symbiotic relationship, all based around the core concept of personal and collective wellbeing.
Why wouldn’t you want a happy, flourishing, well office?