I’ve been cajoling people at work into workplace wellness for as long as I can remember, rallying people up for a lunchtime run, campaigning for a fruit delivery and at times spreading more serious health messages about mental health or sharing my experiences of caring and working with people living with cancer.
My intention has always been the same, to help improve the general feeling of wellbeing and happiness at work, either by getting a bit sweaty over a lunchtime jog or by understanding the value of time out, sharing a coffee and a much-needed decompression chat.
We spend a significant part of our lives educating ourselves, choosing a career, ‘proving’ our worth at work and doing the 9 'till 5 thing and the days, weeks & years we dedicate to our jobs undoubtedly bring greatness. But the penny is dropping with the impact that the intensity and demands of our work lives is having on our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
We've been accepting it like it’s some kind of side effect of having a 9 'till 5 but quite frankly, we all need to remember that doing something that compromises any part of you isn’t worth it, even when it's your job. All of your knowledge and dedication should be celebrated and nourished and not just rewarded with a monthly pay cheque, no matter how big it is.
Twelve years on from my first ‘proper job' and convincing a group of my work colleagues to spend our lunch times running the country lanes of Lancaster, wellbeing initiatives in the workplace are well and truly here and they come in many forms. We’re seeing a great mix of delivery styles, uses of technology, varying budgets and partnerships and it's all coming from different areas of the business. Some of it feels a bit token and some of it has real sincerity and impact. At whatever level, businesses are not just noticing a shift in productivity but also that their people are happier.
Wellbeing is bringing more life into the workplace, quite literally.
Just this week I started some new ’30 min express’ yoga sessions with a client, delivered smack bang in the middle of the afternoon, I honestly didn’t know if we’d be able to pull people from their desks at that time of day. To my surprise two groups willingly joined in over two sessions, no Lycra necessary and no expectations, just support, team vibes, breathing and moving. It was great to see.
In-between some tight jeans and shyness in 20-30 minutes we unveiled a lighter mood, some laughter and happier people who were no doubt far more productive when they got back to their desks. The fact is, very little is needed to do something that can transform how you feel for the better. The challenge is giving ourselves the time.
I’m not sure if was the endorphins, the breathing, the sense of team, the invitation to be present or the after class conversation but the change felt in just 20 minutes this week was significant. Whatever your role at work is, we need to embrace this attitude and openness for more attention on the mind, body and soul in the workplace.
May the enthusiastic team member be heard and may those who think that this is not for them, remember that we all have a state of health, it needs to be nurtured and not one of us is exempt from that.
There's no better time than now to allow yourself to feel better.