Healthier Happier Business Workplaces:
By Mark Bunn
Do you work in a stressed, negative or de-motivated workplace?
Like it to be happier, healthier, more productive and have you
& your colleagues enjoy your work more?
Here are some tips to help.
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 employees 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.
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.
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!!!
+ 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.
+ Health/Life Balance Tips: take from health magazines or online newsletters – if you would like a FREE Subscription to my Ezine, feel free - go to http://www.naturalhealthwellbeing.com
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.
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 won't get so stressed in the first place.
We wish you all the best for a wonderfully happy & healthy workplace.
Mark Bunn & Health Advantage Australia - http://www.aussieguestspeaker.com.au
2. Corporate Health Talks: http://www.healthspeaker.com.au
+ This article is fully copyrighted. Copyright © 2004 Health Advantage Australia.
All rights reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce any part of this article without permission (like that mentioned above).
About the Author
Mark Bunn is a 'mind-body' health speaker and author in Maharishi Ayurveda™ /Ayurvedic medicine. He speaks regularly at conferences & writes tips/articles on natural solutions to common ailments through Maharishi Ayurveda™. For more see http://www.aussieguestspeaker.com.au or http://www.healthspeaker.com.au
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