Have you ever wondered how the top performers at your place of work get so much accomplished? Or do you think about how things might be different if the company placed an emphasis on employee well-being? If you have had these questions, you are not alone. Not surprisingly, the two topics are related.
How does worker well-being impact employee performance? Studies show that workers that are in a good state of well-being are most commonly the employees that have a greater job performance. The impact wellness has on a person's mental capabilities, motivation, and overall health is clear.
Grasping the parts of work that these factors affect is central to understanding the true impact of well-being. In the coming paragraphs, it will become clear what a worker's cognitive abilities, drive, and general health do for work performance. By learning about these aspects of well-being and the impact they present to the workplace, employers can better understand how to improve productivity.
In order to fully grasp the meaning of well-being, it is important to go beyond the simple definition. In fact, Google's definition is “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.” While this definition contains a broad spectrum of wellness and well-being, an employee’s mind, enthusiasm for the work, and comprehensive health is far more specific and definitive.
The use of your mind is a large portion of doing any job. Even when your job is considered “mindless,” that term is hugely exaggerated. Our bodies’ most basic functions are controlled with the brain. When more complicated uses of the brain, such as creativity or logical thought, is added to the equation, an employee’s well-being becomes more of a priority for employers.
Consider how much brainpower goes into the creative process. Most creative business ideas begin with a brainstorming session or the desire to address a problem. Each idea is then drawn out and potential effects are determined. Next, a decision is made regarding which idea(s) to move forward with. The next phase of creativity involves group feedback of sorts. Once the idea has been improved upon with the input of others, it is put to work, thus ending the creative process for this particular thought.
What is it about well-being that improves cognitive thinking? For one, physical activity inspires our brains to have more variety when it comes to thoughts. Exercising is a scientifically proven way to have a mental breakthrough, which then allows us to expand from our usual thought processes.
Laughter also has a great effect on our cognitive abilities. In addition to the impact on cognitive thinking, laughter and humor also work wonders on our mental health. Many might be surprised to learn that laughter has a medicinal effect on the brain and lessens depression and anxiety by simply altering the chemistry of the brain.
A person that laughs often is sure to be more productive because of the improved mood he or she will find themselves in. A positive mood creates an environment in which the worker and his/ her coworkers can thrive. Not only will a positive mood motivate the one laughing, but others in the office will likely find the mood to be contagious, boosting their own job performance.
Ergonomic furniture and equipment is a large contributor to workplace comfort. Comfort in the office is a direct line to energy and, thus, productivity and mental capabilities. When we find ourselves uncomfortable in our office chair, we often focus more on attempting to relieve the ache, searching for a more comfortable position, and trying to find the energy to get things accomplished. Not only does ergonomics lend to comfort, but it helps with our physical health as well. Proper posture is important in avoiding back and neck pain. (We have written a related article - How Does Ergonomics Affect Employee Performance? (Physical, Cognitive, and Organizational Ergonomics))
A healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand. Ensuring that the human body is comfortable and well taken care of allows the mind to focus on other things. For example, rather than constantly thinking about the body's aches and pains, other, more positive thoughts can naturally occur. A person's overall physical and mental health is central to happiness in the workplace. Ultimately, a happy employee is a far better-performing worker.
Well-being and motivation are two parts of life that can easily be connected. Imagine how frequently workers do an internet search on how to find motivation. Those workers that struggle to find any drive could possibly use some well-being. What is the connection between the two?
Think about the things that motivate you. For many, it is learning something new or advanced in your field. The continued education of employees is a huge motivator and it contributes to one's well-being. How so? Bettering your education relates to well-being in a few ways.
First, it keeps the mind sharp. Learning new things even late in life contributes to combating memory problems and diseases like Alzheimer's. Second, learning new information can directly relate to employee well-being. For instance, workers might be offered a course on handling work stress or anxiety. A break from work to take such a course during the day can be motivational and beneficial to the well-being of the employees.
Other forms of motivation can come in team-building activities. While the opportunities for bettering well-being exists in a variety of activities - from sports to trivia night - the social aspect involved contributes to a whole other level of well-being. Communication and social interaction, in general, can help to boost moods and employee skill sets. Additionally, by becoming more comfortable with coworkers outside of regular office engagements, employees can discover working together becomes far more seamless.
Further seamless office partnerships with an upbeat and positive office culture. Not only will doing so boost motivation levels across the board, but it will decrease stress levels significantly. Discourage negative comments and make work a happier place to see a real change in employee performance. Doing so will not only improve stress levels in the office, but it can improve employee health overall.
Take into consideration the work that gets accomplished when an employee is at their best compared to what gets done when he or she is feeling ill. The difference can be staggering. It should be obvious, but the changes in performance when a non-healthy worker becomes healthy are many.
Physical fitness and health is a big part of one's well-being. An obese employee is likely to miss up to 2 more days of work each year than a person of average weight. Given that nearly 40 percent of the American population is obese, it is likely that companies are missing out on a lot of work. Regularly missed workdays in addition to the 2 days per year add up over time.
Take a small business, for example. It might have 15 employees, which would mean statistically that 6 are obese. In a single year, those 6 employees would account for a total of 12 more missed days than average. If workdays are 8 hours, that's 96 hours of missed work. For a small business, that number can be debilitating.
When obesity is less of an issue, job performance can soar. Consider the known health-related effects of obesity: high blood pressure, sleep apnea, diabetes, and struggles with mental illness. To think that these concerns are just a fraction of the possibilities that an obese person might have is eye-opening. Think about how health problems like these can change the workday.
When it comes to high blood pressure, office stress is not good. Having said that, with high blood pressure as a result of obesity on top of high blood pressure from work, getting it regulated can be difficult. It can be hard enough to focus on improving one area of one's life. However, learning to lose weight and manage work stress simultaneously can be a lot for some people. That added stress of trying to figure things out can make accomplishing tasks at work difficult.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person's breathing stops and restarts while sleeping. It often results in poor sleep and feeling tired upon waking. If an obese employee suffers from sleep apnea, it is likely that they spend their working hours yawning, taking too many coffee breaks, and unable to focus. Without adequate sleep, working can be hard and progress can be slow. (We have written a review of Why We Sleep)
There are a number of effects that come along with diabetes, as well. While many people have their diabetes under control, type 2 diabetes (a result of obesity) requires a lifestyle change. For many, this means tracking food and beverage intake, regularly checking sugar, and taking medication. This can add a whole other task to achieve while working. Although it may only take a few minutes to accomplish these things, failing to do them can mean symptoms such as confusion, headaches, or anxiety, to name a few.
Mental illness is not only something that affects the brain, but it can affect the physical aspect of the body as well. The desire to sleep constantly comes with depression, altering the ability to work. Depression can contribute to obesity or eating disorders. Mental illness can also cause self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Each of these parts of mental illness would clearly have an impact on work in general, but especially the quality of work performance.
Ensuring that health is made a priority is central to one's well-being and in turn, job performance. Because of the connection between the two, it is not only a good, human thing to care about the well being of employees, but a smart business decision. Grasping the concept of well-being in the workplace is fairly simple, but knowing how to boost well-being as an employer can get a bit harder.
There are a large number of opportunities available for employers to increase well-being. While many options might depend on the kind of work, there is always a way to put employee well-being on the list of priorities. Think about the struggles that employees face in specific industries and careers. What can employers do to help? Do all programs work for all employers?
It is important (and a good start) to learn what it is that employees are looking for specifically. If possible, use the needs of the employees as inspiration. Most commonly, employees desire a flexible work schedule. In fact, 86% of employees want this. However, only 50% of employers offer it. Workers also want to be able to work from home, but even fewer employers offer that perk.
Because of the capabilities in many industries, the above-mentioned requests are not always possible. There are, however, options to encourage well-being that can be done in nearly all workplaces. One of which being healthy snack options. Many vending machines in offices contain standard soda pop, chips, and chocolate bars. By swapping out those machines for ones offering granola bars, fruits, and healthy drink options, employers can inspire employees to make better choices. By offering free healthy snacks, many more employees will choose the better option.
Providing employees with an on-staff or on-call therapist or counselor is sure to help with stress-related issues. While this would be more frequently necessary in careers like first responders or hospital employees, many industries could make use of a trained professional to speak with as needed. With the attempt to “end the stigma” associated with mental illness that is happening in today's society, employees would likely feel appreciated with such an offering. (We have written a review of The Healthy Workplace)
Other potential well-being programs to offer might be an in house daycare, smoking cessation assistance, or a wellness room. These options allow employees to stress less, improve health, and feel important to the business. The potential for boosting well-being in the workplace is truly massive. Tapping into the needs of a workplace’s people in crucial to finding the most effective programs for that company.
By considering the needs and wants of employees and offering up solutions, a workplace has the ability to increase job performance on a large scale. In addition, employees are more likely to stick around for a longer period of time when he or she feels appreciated. Long term employees impact productivity in their own way. Adding business-smart programs to employee benefits is a win-win for both employee and employer.
Are wellness programs and well-being programs the same concept? While the idea behind the two is related, wellness and well-being are not necessarily interchangeable. Wellness is an aspect of well-being. Well-being encapsulates an entire lifestyle.
Is an on-site gym a wasted expense? The use made of an on-site gym often depends on the size of the company and the size of the gym. While healthy employees are sure to perform better at their jobs, it is not generally necessary to spend several thousand dollars on a gym for a handful of people to use.
What activities can be done to keep the mind healthy? Continued education inside or outside of a classroom setting, puzzles and brain teasers, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep are just a few ways the human brain can stay sharp. Doing these things regularly at every age is important in keeping a healthy mind, but especially important as we get on in age.
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