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7 Tips for a Healthier, Happier Workplace

7 Tips for a Healthier, Happier Workplace

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 14:56

1. Brighten Things Up – Make a ‘Cheerier’ Workplace

In the pursuit of looking sleek, modern & professional, many workplaces can tend towards darker interiors, cold furnishings and a generally ‘smart’ yet not so healthy work environments.

Too much heavy/dark colours etc can tend to dull the mind and even contribute to lack of vitality and even depression.

With people spending 8 hours plus ‘in the office’, one of the most profound ways to increase morale, positivity and general health is to brighten up your workplace environment.

  • Increase lightness, ‘colour’ and beauty where you can:
    e.g. colourful wall pictures/paintings, furniture/furnishings, bright flowers, a few green plants (even fake ones!) etc.
    *A study by Professor Margaret Burchett, of the University of Technology, Sydney, found that potplants can reduce air toxins by as much as 20%. Similar studies in Europe have shown potplants in the office can reduce ‘sick leave’ by 60%.
  • Maximise ‘natural light’ wherever possible
  • Encourage people to have a plant or fresh flowers on their desk.
  • Encourage ‘warmer/brighter’ colours/clothing – makes everyone feel better.

2. Allow / ‘Encourage’ a PROPER LUNCH Break

Want workers to arrive at work feeling full of energy, eager to work and be productive right throughout the day? Give them a decent lunch break and encourage them to eat their main meal at lunchtime not dinner time.

Why? Because this is how humans are designed to function for peak health & performance. From the popular ‘Natural health system known as Maharishi Ayurveda, digestion (which is responsible for converting food into energy & healthy tissues) is at its peak in the middle of the day – when we are active & therefore need energy etc most.

Not only does getting out of the office at lunchtime provide a ‘mental refresher’, but eating a settled lunch (as opposed to sitting at one’s desk or eating ‘on the run’), is critical for workers to enjoy maximum energy and productivity throughout the day.

It also, helps prevent ‘binge eating’ later that day. After sunset, our digestive fire becomes almost non-existent as our body’s wind down in preparation for their ‘resting/rejuvenating’ phase of sleep.

* Eating a large, heavy meal at dinner (which most of our population does!) is not only ‘poorly digested’ but totally compromises our nightly rejuvenation cycle (during sleep), making us wake-up heavy, sluggish and de-motivated the next morning.

3. WATER…WATER…Everywhere

One of the primary causes of low energy, poor concentration and impaired decision-making is ‘poor-hydration’. The combination of ‘air-conditioned offices’, coffee drinking and being ‘too busy/lazy’ to go to the staff kitchen and get a drink, means a high percentage of workers are working at significantly reduced productivity levels, due to poor drinking habits. The benefits in terms of improved energy, focus and morale of being properly hydrated make doing the following things, worth their weight in gold.

  • Put little signs up on walls (or office health tips notice board) explaining the benefits of drinking regularly (water of course). * Don’t couch in ‘health’ terms (people will be less
    likely to do it!!!), mention ‘how much better they will FEEL’.
  • Place your Water Dispenser in a prominent place – where people walk past regularly.
  • Large Companies: Educate the Boss / Finance as to the benefits in productivity and ask them for more ‘water dispensers’…so you can have one in each area, making it as EASY as possible for people to get to.

* Note: Yes, filtered water is best, but drinking COLD water is absolutely disastrous for health. It’s a long story, but always favour room temperature or ‘warm’ water.

4. Afternoon Tea FRUIT

How about a really cheap way to give something to your employees that’s also a great encouragement for workplace health? Get Fruity.

Providing a good stock of seasonal fruit (in addition to the requisite biscuit tin of course!), is a great way to encourage a healthier diet and peak brain performance.

* The best time for fruit is around 4pm each day. This is when ‘sweet cravings’ are at their peak or when people who have skipped lunch, get the ‘binge munchies’.

An orange and a banana at this time, is not only a great healthy ‘energy boosting, pick me up’ – but as a bonus, you might also minimise the damage to the ‘Tim Tam’ stocks!!!

You could have a roster and get someone to walk around the office at the same time each day, handing out fruit or simply keep a healthy stock in the kitchen to make it easy for people to choose fruit.

Too hard to organise you say? No way. There are now hundreds of companies across Australia who get fresh fruit ‘delivered’ to their office each week. See https://www.fruitatwork.com.au

5. Promote a HAPPY …HEALTHY… FUN Environment

Make sure you don’t make your workplace too ‘serious’ and keep health & enjoyment in peoples awareness!

Put up an office notice board (or add a section to your existing one), and put regular ‘health promoting’ things on it, e.g.

  • Joke of the week: ‘Laughter is the best medicine’. Let employees contribute here, but note…these may need to be screened!!!
  • Health/Life Balance Tips: take from health magazines or online newsletters.
  • Question/Answer section: i.e. where an employee can post a question – e.g. can anyone recommend a good Personal Trainer/Masseur near suburb XYZ? Where can I get my cholesterol checked near work? …and then other employees answer.

6. Have a Quiet Room

Business these days is all about activity…constant go go go. Arguably the single
greatest antidote to all the hustle & bustle is ‘quiet time to oneself’.

Just like airports and many progressive companies these days, why not set aside a special room/area where employees can go for some ‘Quiet Time’.

This is where employees can meditate, do some yoga or simply have some quiet space to gather their thoughts (you could even use it to send ‘naughty employees to for quiet time – hehehe!).

Employees spend on average, 50-70% of their ‘non-sleeping’ time at work.

Providing a space where they can have some ‘downtime/personal rejuvenation time’ will be one of the critical areas of the next decade.

Where practical, have

  • the room as far away from ‘noise’ as possible
  • a couple of comfortable chairs for meditation
  • a couch/small bed people can lie down on if feeling unwell
  • a small space with 1-2 blankets for stretching, yoga etc
  • soft lighting & possibly a ‘fish tank’ or small water feature. Water is very calming & balancing to corporate environments – why everyone wants to live near the water – fish tanks have been shown to lower blood pressure!.

Note: Together with things like this, is the need to change the 24/7 work culture – that employees who do look after their health – take mini- breaks/quiet time, don’t work through lunch, don’t work back late every night etc aren’t lazy or bad employees.

Quite the opposite, promoting workers who look after themselves to stay fresh, clear, alert, positive, will not only help make you an ‘employer of choice’, but lead to a more productive and balanced workplace.

7. Culture / Promote Employee ‘WORK ENJOYMENT’

Okay, you’ve heard it a hundred times before, but it’s always good to hear it again.

The absolute No.1 key to good health and a happy workplace is ‘happy employees’. And the No.1 Key to a happy employee is doing work that they both enjoy and are good at.

This might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how often we overlook this or put people in positions/roles based on ‘proficiency alone’ or worse to ‘fill a hole’.

* This is obviously more a ‘management controlled issue’, so everyone needs to work together to make this one work.

However, anything that gets people ‘doing what they most enjoy & do best’, will skyrocket motivation & morale and drastically reduce workplace stress/work balance issues, as people don’t get so stressed in the first place.

Helpful Exercise:

Get all employees to do the following: * if you would like a prepared sheet that makes it easier to facilitate this, just let us know.

Step: 1. List all the things they love/really like about their work and all those they dislike.

Step: 2. Have them/you/the boss, think of creative ways they can reduce the things they don’t like & spend more time on things they do (that are important/needed in the business).

Ensure there is a provision that any tasks they want to reduce/eliminate still get done and the overall benefit to the company is greater.

Step: 3. Have them make a time with management to discuss/negotiate with them how ‘together’ they can do this to ‘mutual benefit.

Managers/employers should be open to this as fundamentally a happy worker is a happier, more willing & more productive worker.

* Ensure that employees have a plan for how the things they don’t want to do will still get done (only better!) and explain it in terms of how it will be helping the company & not just them per se.

Mark Bunn

Mark Bunn – is a leading natural health researcher specialising in Ayurvedic medicine, author of the three-time best-selling ‘Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health‘ and one of Australasia's most popular health and performance speakers