Workplace Wellbeing: more than plants and yoga sessions

What is ‘Wellbeing’ and how is this relevant to the workplace?

According to the World Health Organisation a state of wellbeing is when:

“Every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

So it’s not about being happy all the time. Nor is it having no stress or worry in your life at all. Instead you are someone who is equipped to deal with these challenges because you are resilient. You’re the person facing them head on and as a result are left with enough energy to do what you love outside of work too.

With this balance and with these capabilities you are able to realise your full potential and say ‘the years in your life have been fully lived’.

This is in contrast to the daily reality for many people. Imagine this: You’ve overslept by 10 minutes and had to rush to get ready for work. You dash to the car and…what’s this? The car is making some funny noises, but you get to work safely. Throughout the day, stressful situations can arise. Are you then going about your day singing Hakuna Matata or muttering “F*** sake! Not another thing that’s gone wrong!”

So what’s my employer got to do with this?

Surely, that’s up to me? Look at it this way, most of us will need to spend an average of 40 hours per week in a workplace. That is a lot of your time spent with the same people, completing the same tasks and dealing with the same customers. Wouldn’t it be nice to know you can confide in co-workers and your manager? To be looked after in the place you spend most of your week in?

Richard Branson sums it up nicely for us:

“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.”

Realistically, how are you supposed to concentrate on work when there is too much going on outside of it? Or if you feel you need some help with a task but are too afraid to ask for it., fearing it will be seen as a sign of weakness. You couldn’t possibly talk about what has been worrying you, as again it’s not their problem and you don’t want to show vulnerability. What if you miss out on that promotion you’ve been waiting on? These are just some of the reasons our wellbeing is put to one side and so many of us are just “powering through”.

“I’ve just got to work really hard for the next six months to a year and then I will get that promotion!”

Of course hard work should be recognised, your dedication to a company and their values should lead to a promotion. What shouldn’t happen is you having to compromise and forget about your wellbeing. There are ways to achieve your career goals without destroying your health.

If anyone knows what this looks like, it is our director Nicky Marshall. At age 40, the lack of self-care and prioritising her wellbeing in order to get a young business off the ground, within the space of 6 months, led to her having a stroke. She re-evaluated and said hello to a new journey called Discover Your Bounce.

“If you do not make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your Illness.”

That is exactly what she had to do and she can tell you herself, writing a newsletter at 4am is not winning! Choices like this are detrimental to your health.

If your working environment doesn’t allow you to speak up and show your human side (which is what we call being vulnerable and open) and doesn’t try to further you, but continues to overwork you, you could end up in a bad state.

Then when you do get that promotion, do you have the energy to do your best work? It’s rarely a case of “I’ll just be busy for a little while and then take a holiday as a break.” Holidays are important, but if you come back to the same level of stress and workload as before, that two weeks spent on a beach in the Maldives did nothing. Good habits, for a good busy life need to be created sooner rather than later.

What is Good Busy? How does this fit into the current picture?

The CIPD reports some statistics:

  • Workers tend to view their jobs as having a positive impact on their mental well-being; views for their physical well-being are more split. 

This is because working creates purpose, either to make enough to lead the lifestyle they wish to lead or because they are following a passion. It could be the socialising aspect work can give someone, or the ability to give something back to the community. All of which makes a Well Being.

However,

  • Up to one in four workers report intense and stressful working conditions, such as feeling exhausted, miserable or stressed.

Labour Force Survey states:

  • “15.4 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017/18”
  • “595,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2017/18.”

Time To Change believes:

  • 1 in 4 of will have a mental health condition in any given year.

The task then isn’t to reduce working hours to a minimum, but to ensure people aren’t overwhelmed by the hours they work and have the right support systems in place. Together with the right tools to deal with challenges that will inevitably arise throughout a working day, this stress epidemic can be eliminated.

  • The UK fares worse than average in this, coming 16th in a list of 25 comparator countries.

This shows the UK has a long way to go and we need to start prioritising ourselves. Without a happy and healthy team to back a business, it can fall.

What are others saying?

“Workers reported that companies generally satisfy their needs for on-the-job development and that they value these opportunities, which include high-visibility positions and significant increases in responsibility.   But they’re not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring and coaching – things they also value highly.”

– From Victor Lipman, Forbes magazine online, Jan 2013.

What exactly is mentoring and coaching?

We like to call it the Human touch. The part of your boss or colleague that makes you feel safe enough to ask for help and not be seen as weak or dependent. To talk to someone about those worries outside of and inside of work to get them off your chest, and most likely realise you’re not alone.

It is the mentoring and coaching of a team that leads to understanding and support. Creating a productive working environment, leading to a successful business.

We asked graduates, as in the next generation going into the workforce: “How supported do you think you will be?”

We asked recent graduates from Bristol University what they imagine the workplace to be like. We also asked whether the employer will also be considerate towards mental health as well as stress related conditions. They answered as follows:

“I would welcome more systems in place (that are properly upheld!) which would enable me to manage stress and mental health conditions. I would like the consideration and support of my employer, but I don’t expect those systems to currently be functioning and in place.”

“There is a lot more talk about mental health, which is good. Conversations and visibility are important, but there aren’t enough legitimate systems in place which protect employees who are suffering from stress and mental health.”

“I think stress is taken much less seriously in a professional context, compared to other mental health conditions”

In a recent Capita Report 39% of people felt comfortable talking to their line managers if they had a mental health problem.

Line managers don’t need to become therapists. However learning about things such as Emotional Quotient, can make a big difference for you and your staff.

“Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.” – Howard Gardner, Harvard theorist

The aim is to be preventative, to avoid people having to take time off work due to stress related illness or any other mental health condition. It is about supporting them to be able to thrive, not survive.

So this workplace wellbeing initiative, do I need to start bringing a yoga mat to work?

For some yoga can be very beneficial. It allows for exercise and even mindfulness, as you are focusing on your breathing and posture. For others it is uncomfortable, meaning they won’t engage in it.

We take a varied approach, as each business has their own needs, their own staff and their own vision.

Our goal is to create workplace wellbeing initiatives designed to give people the right tools to no longer be Mind Full but Mindful instead. There is more to workplace wellbeing than a bowl of fruit, access to water, plants and natural light. Although these go a long way in terms of creating a positive working environment, it doesn’t create engagement or change the bad habits that could be costing your business money.

Would you like to discuss your workplace and how we could help? Contact our director Nicky Marshall: nicky@discoveryourbounce.com.

To look at the programmes we offer visit: www.discoveryourbounce.com

 

 

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About The Author

Alexandra Stumpp

A 2019 graduate of German from the Univeristy of Bristol, Alex is the Events and Marketing Assistant for Discover Your Bounce. She joined the team in March 2019 as an Intern and is now a full-time employee. Her expertise is the study of cultures and languages. Being half Swiss and through her studies she speaks fluent German.