With the turn of the century came a revelation: employers should take care of their employees. Enter workplace wellness. Often associated with weight-loss challenges (we’ve all seen that episode of The Office) and team-building exercises, workplace wellness can often get a bad rap. When implemented correctly though, it can not only change the overall work environment, but also increase employee happiness and retention, department revenue, and interpersonal relationships in the office.
First and foremost workplace wellness is about helping employees find a healthy work/life balance. Let’s look to Google, who has one of the most impressive corporate workplace wellness policies in the nation. They recently did a study on the top 5 qualities that make a healthy team. Their most surprising finding? One of those 5 qualities was “psychological safety”. That means, in short, a no-judgement zone. Employees need to feel safe and comfortable in their work environment and with their coworkers in order to have an open exchange of ideas, creative problem-solving, and healthy work relationships.
An easy way to create a psychologically safe space is to address biological and cultural “mismatches” that are prevalent in the workplace. Consider these 3 mismatches and their impact on your workplace:
Movement and sitting – Bodies weren’t designed to sit in an uncomfortable chair for 8 hours a day! Balance movement and sitting times — offer group workout classes at breaks, provide longer lunches, encourage employees to take a quick walk when they’re overwhelmed. Here at BLND our team likes to work out together at F45, which caters to group training.
Relaxation and stress – A certain amount of stress is healthy, it sparks people to work hard. But, too much stress causes burnout, emotional fatigue, and can actually slow your team down. That doesn’t mean you need to hire a masseuse for the office (though if you can that would be amazing)! As a leader, your team needs to know they can communicate with you if there’s too much on their plate, and that you’re there to help them. Consider a team outing to somewhere like Life Lab in Hermosa Beach, CA that offers group mediations! Curate an anti-stress environment by incorporating color into the office, pictures of nature (proven to help motivate and de-stress those who see them), or generally make the office more comfortable with ergonomic chairs and lots of natural light.
Sociability and isolation – Humans are social beings by nature (introverts included). That’s why we form family units, social circles, and communities! No one wants to spend a whole shift alone in a cubicle. Open up your office space by taking down those walls! You don’t all need to work at the same desk, but having an open space fights feelings of isolation. Another way to combat this is to have regular meetings for the entire team with no urgent goal. At BLND, we have a weekly meeting to catch each other up on our clients/projects, brainstorm solutions together for tricky problems, and cover any office issues that need addressing.
Workplace wellness seems like a daunting concept from square one, but the smallest steps can make huge improvements!