In the U.S., about two-thirds of full-time workers experience burnout on the job.
I wish we could start the year on a more positive tone. But that shocking news should be the wake-up call you need to take well-being at work seriously.
To be fair, there are more and more initiatives to improve workplace wellness: flexible working hours or more sophisticated mental health programs to address anxiety at work.
But if you are aware of the damaging effects of poor well-being at work; then this next step is something no one can take for you.
To take responsibility to look after yourself.
We can all connect “well-being” to our personal life and, say, revisit work-life alignment.
Time to go deeper. Here are a few simple ideas to make well-being at work yours.
- Move more
- Explore your emotional well-being
- Intellect needs to feel good, too!
- Go social
- Look after your environment
Sitting at your desk is bad for you.
Did you know that when the body remains in a seated position for an extended period of time, all of your internal processes slow down. Your energy levels decrease. You may start feeling irritable, tired or aggravated.
Looking after your body is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a healthy lifestyle. Well-being at work is no different.
If you think you need long stretches of exercises to make a difference, worry not. Any form of movement makes a difference. So increase your willpower, tune into self-discipline and get started!
- walking 15 minutes to grab your lunch
- stretching at your desk each hour
- taking the stairs (a few storeys are enough!)
- walking over to the desk of a colleague, instead of opening a new chat window…
Emotional well-being at work
You bring your whole self to work.
Do you think you can completely set your emotional reality aside and turn into a productivity machine?
Think of all the times where you have been impacted by a negative conversation. Where you felt bad after working hard and not getting any kind of recognition. On the other end of the spectrum, have you ever been completely re-boosted when a milestone you worked hard for was finally achieved?
Emotional reality is 100% part of being human. And if you’ve heard of acute stress, you’ve heard of emotional stress: anxiety, having memory lapses, feeling fatigued and worn down, and mood swings that practically everyone around you notices.
To keep up with the ups and downs of your emotional reality, I strongly recommend you to adopt mindfulness rituals. Next time you feel on the verge of reaction, take a few seconds to be aware of “what is” without judgement of the situation of people involved.
Would you be affected if, say, you were completely detached? What could you learn from observing the facts before jumping to how they make you feel?
Another great way to look after your well-being at work is to learn to respond and reset your system. Did you know 3 deep breaths are enough to activate your parasympathetic system (responsible for relaxation)?
The intellectual side of well-being at work
One of my best “workplace memories” was from my time in Singapore.
Each Friday afternoon, I could dedicate 30 mins to e-learning. I was fortunate enough to work for a company where a huge bank of training was available to all. There, I learned about emotional intelligence, public speaking and even writing!
Do you relate to the pleasure of learning something new? It could be as simple as opening a good book!
Reading for therapeutic effect is a thing, and it’s called “bibliotherapy”. The New Yorker traces the practice back to 1916, stating that “reading books can be good for your mental health and your relationships with others.”
Intellectual well-being is doing something that stimulates your mind. And can be easily turned into a fantastic tool for well-being at work.
Do you research reading recommendations for your team? Do you encourage others to present something they know well? Or simply dedicate 10 minutes per day to reading on a topic you care about?
Yes, the social dimension of well-being matters. (If you ever found yourself in a toxic workplace, you know what I mean.)
Think of a company where you can fail forward because people support each other. Where work is 50% doing great stuff together, 50% to explore with curiosity. Where you see your colleagues as one important element of your workday. Here’s social well-being at work.
How to make it work? For me, social well-being depends on healthy boundaries people have with one another. And this is where leaders are super important. A leader’s job is to show what it takes to make a relationship work: communicate effectively yet respectfully when a line has been crossed. And embrace a positive perspective at all times.
Not leading a team (yet)?
There’s one simple thing you can do. Check on other people and make yourself available if they need support, a compassionate ear or just a good friend to rely on.
Protecting the environment
We are right in the middle of an unprecedented environmental crisis. So much that 73% of millennials say that global warming is “personally important” to them.
From recycling habits, energy saving rules in the office or even the corporate culture (hey, that’s your work environment, too!) possibilities to improve your environmental well-being at work are countless.
- Recycle draft paper (I never use notepads, when a paper has to be trashed I keep it and write on the back of the page)
- Energy savings (light, air con, screensavers…)
- Ever thought of using the company to bring awareness to an environmental cause and organise a charity day?
- Adopting a plant to detox your workplace? (For fun, here are the main office toxins: carbon monoxide, pesticides, trichloroethylene. There are at least 10 more… And we’ve not covered bacteria yet!)
Actions that over time make a difference.
Because big changes always come from individual awareness. And the more individuals take responsibility, the greater the change!
What do you do to encourage well-being at work? Share your best tip in the comments!