Preventing burnout: wellbeing in the workplace
60% of our waking hours are spent at work. But just being there is no guarantee of productivity. On the best days, we feel energized, motivated and productive, and we get plenty done. Yet how many of those good days we have depends a lot on our state of physical and mental wellbeing. In 21st Century Western society, managers can’t just yell ‘Faster! Faster!’ at employees until they drop from exhaustion. They have to be more forward-looking and do whatever they can to keep their workforce happy and healthy. Healthy staff are productive staff, and that’s good for the bottom line.
There’s more to that than providing free donuts and gym access (two contradicting perks if ever there were). Good wellbeing practices that managers can instill in their staff to improve wellbeing and performance include nutrition, good sleep patterns, mental resilience, mindfulness, conflict resolution, assertiveness, mental health awareness and good posture. Human beings are the most valuable resources a company has, and keeping them tuned up and in emotional, physical and mental shape is good business practice. A Forbes article from June 2015 states that 7 out of 10 companies offer wellness programs to their employees. Some cynics might say that the strategy is to reduce healthcare costs in the long term, but with the proven effect on profitability that wellness programs have, it seems they are positive as well as preventative.
It generally isn’t necessary for managers to provide this support as part of their duties. There are external contractors such as feelgoodco who specialize in workplace wellbeing who can be called in for a half day once a month, for example, to keep staff on track with their happiness. The contact time is augmented with supplementary materials like apps, podcasts and email newsletters to remind workers to pay attention to their wellbeing until the next session.
Training is imparted via onsite workshops and webinars, which have been shown to be far more effective than e-learning or DVDs. Most workplace wellbeing companies also provide onsite physiotherapy, massage and posture training to prevent or treat ergonomic problems.
Investment in the above is probably worthwhile, as it has been shown to maintain morale, satisfaction, self-esteem and, most importantly for the C-suite, productivity. There seems to be little doubt in today’s corporate world that employee health equals business health.