No one likes getting out of bed on a Monday morning, but if you are stressed and unhappy at work the early morning alarm can sound like your absolute worst enemy. For many people however, it isn’t necessarily the work that gets them down, it’s the overall stress levels that can accumulate as a result of day to day work.
The good news is, healthy staff are generally happy staff, which means that by keeping employees physically and mentally healthy they will naturally become happier, more motivated and as a result, more productive.
Here we take a look at some top tips to help achieve the ultimate management goal, the ‘All Round Happy Ship’.
1. Get hands on
Taking time out to relax at work may seem like wasted man hours, however brief interludes where employees can take ‘pit stops’ to recharge can be incredibly beneficial to their overall performance.
Many companies employ professional masseurs to visit the office, allowing employees to receive massages within the working day. The On Site Massage Co have provided in-house massage and wellbeing services within the corporate sector for over 14 years, we spoke to their Managing Director, Charlotte Hunter to find out more about the benefits for both staff and employers:
“We receive excellent feedback from our clients about the positive benefits of having our treatments at work, and the results really speak for themselves. Many clients are surprised that we can achieve so much in such a short space of time.”
Far from taking up huge chunks of ‘paid time’, on-site massage is designed to target key areas and deliver results in a realistic period of time. Charlotte went on to say:
“A typical treatment is 15 or 20 minutes long so doesn’t take much time out of the working day. Within this time we can really target muscular aches and pains that result from long hours sitting at a desk. Stiff and sore neck and shoulders are very common complaints amongst office workers along with lower back problems, which are all generally posture related. On Site Massage can really help to alleviate these problems and can have an extremely positive impact if done on a regular basis.”
With the increase in the amount of ‘screen time’ that employees are now faced with, there has been a natural rise in employees needing to take time off sick for injuries created by RSI and back strains. This clearly has a financial implication on companies, which could possibly be alleviated by investing in tackling these problems before they manifest.
2. Encourage Exercise
No one needs to be told about the health benefits of exercise, however, high gym memberships costs and the feeling that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day means that for many employees, exercise takes second place.
As the emotional benefits of regular exercise can be extremely beneficial when building a happy work force, it is well worth considering finding ways to encourage employees to exercise in their lunch breaks or on their way to and from work.
The pros of corporate gym memberships
Setting up a corporate gym membership with a gym near to the workplace can be a great plus for employees, for the following reasons:
- Corporate packages can be seen as a ‘perk’ for employees, especially as they are generally considerably cheaper than private memberships.
- Exercise promotes staff interaction, eg. if several employees attend the same lunchtime exercise class.
- An invigorating lunchtime work out helps avoid the mid afternoon slump.
We spoke to Ben Jarvis from Virgin Active on how companies benefit from making the gym more accessible for their staff, here’s what he said:
“Encouraging employees to exercise has numerous benefits on a company. Research shows, that as the blood flow to the brain is increased through exercise, cognitive function is improved. Not only that, those who keep active are able to work harder, have reduced stress levels, are able to cope better with the pressures of day to day life, and experience a higher quality of sleep.”
The benefits to a company don’t stop there, Ben also highlighted:
“It has also been proven that people who exercise, even if it is just once a week, can reduce the amount of days taken off sick by 27%. So, the bottom line is, exercise increases positivity, enthusiasm and confidence, and ultimately makes people feel better, which are exactly the qualities that you want in the people who work for you.”
In house classes
Another great way to introduce exercise into the working day is to employ freelance yoga or pilates teachers to come into the workplace to run sessions for employees. Again, there are numerous benefits including:
- Calming effect and enhanced clarity of thought.
- Increased flexibility reduces the chance of employees developing problems from prolonged time sitting at a computer.
- Time efficient as sessions can often be held in unused offices or meeting rooms.
3. Heads up to Wellbeing
Investing in employees’ emotional wellbeing is an essential way of maintaining a happy ship. Utilising the skills of qualified stress counsellors and mindfulness experts can help provide a valuable sounding board for employees, which will help balance the equilibrium within the workplace, nip problems in the bud, and ultimately keep stress levels down.
It’s good to talk
Many companies find that regular counselling sessions (with an external company) can be incredibly beneficial for their staff, especially in large organisations where individuals sometimes don’t feel heard. Counselling can make a big difference in the following areas:
- Inter office politics can be addressed with minimal fuss.
- Impartial intervention means that employees feel more comfortable discussing their issues.
- It offers a forum for personal issues to be discussed and ultimately prevent them from entering the workplace.
- One-on-one counselling allows employees to feel ‘heard’, especially in larger organisations.
- Niggles that may feel too trivial to report can be easily addressed.
- Employees trust the ‘four walls’ security that an outside body will bring, and ultimately address issues that may otherwise be left to fester.
In recent years, the benefits of mindfulness have been realised, and far from the ‘happy clappy’ image that meditation used to be associated with, more and more ‘every day folk’ are practicing this calming and clarifying technique on a daily basis. The benefits include:
- Mindfulness techniques barely eat into company time, most sessions only last between 10-15 minutes.
- Individuals can practice mindfulness at their own desks, at convenient times, removing the need for any organisation.
- Mindfulness programmes are readily available as apps, many being inexpensive or free.
Massage is good for the soul
Aside from being great for tackling aches and pains, massage is also an excellent way to de-stress. Charlotte Hunter from the On Site Massage Co goes on to say:
“As well as the physical benefits, having massages at work help on an emotional level too. Firstly it is a great tool for relieving stress allowing you to have a ‘time out’ from the working environment. 15 minutes of peace and relaxation that allows you to breathe, gather your thoughts and prepare to go back to work refreshed and much more productive. Many of our clients have also reported feeling more valued by their employer when a massage service is made available for them. It makes a huge difference to morale and motivation whilst promoting a greater sense of general wellbeing.”
4. There is no i in team
Team sports and group activities are popular in many organisations, with inter-company football, netball and volley ball tournaments springing up all over the place. The pros of these sporting events are far reaching, with benefits going beyond the health and fitness benefits:
- They are inclusive of everyone, sporty or not. Even those who don’t personally want to compete can still get involved on the supporting, social side.
- There is no better way to encourage team building than having a team who compete together.
- Charity runs are great for encouraging employees of all different abilities to join in and work for a united cause.
- The after event socialising unites the team and supporters.
- Activities don’t have to be sport specific, craft, music and combined interests create opportunities for employees to unite and let off steam together.
5. You are what you eat
It is a well-known fact that what you eat can directly affect mood, energy levels and ultimately, performance. So much so, that a poll carried out amongst 420 office workers in the UK highlighted that, as a direct result of the ‘post lunch lull’ 2.55pm is the single most unproductive time of the day.
Bring in the good stuff
With this in mind, it is essential to incorporate healthy eating initiatives into the work place. This is obviously easier to control in companies that have a canteen or staff restaurant, however it is possible to arrange lunchtime deliveries from local healthy food retailers, perhaps negotiating cheaper prices to encourage employees to eat healthily rather than hit the pre-packed energy sapping sandwiches.
Blood sugar spikes and drops are notoriously bad for productivity, so encouraging grazing can be a good way of preventing ‘crashes’. Even something as simple as having a few well-stocked fruit bowls around the work place will help keep the slumps at bay.