Sandra says, ‘I’m so stressed at work. As Operations Manager for a chain of shops, I report to two regional managers who think I should be on call 24/7! The management team has reduced over the last year and my work load virtually doubled. Although I’m committed to my job, it’s now making my life impossible. I find it difficult to say ‘no’ in case my managers think I’m not ‘up to it’ and with all the cutbacks, I feel insecure. I find it hard to sleep and often awake about 3am with work problems buzzing in my head. I’ve become moody and irritable, both in and out of the office, and am neglecting family life. Much of the time, I feel close to tears and have become resentful of my managers. I can’t switch off from work, even at home. Last week, my Doctor gave me sleeping pills but these don’t help – the only short-term benefit I get is from drinking a couple of glasses of wine each evening to help me get to sleep but when I wake in the middle of the night, I feel even more anxious! Please help’
Carole Spiers says:
Sandra, your situation is, unfortunately, all too common. The root of your problem appears to be your difficulty in saying “no” to the unrealistic demands being made on your time. I suggest you sit down with both your managers and explain the situation. Tell them you are highly committed to your work but your workload has become unrealistic and some deadlines unachievable. They may not have realised the situation as you’ve not said anything before. Once aware of your concerns, and in particular the stress the current situation is generating, your managers have a legal duty of care to work with you to alleviate any excess pressure you are experiencing. It’s also essential to look after your health. Don’t skip meals. Take daily vigorous exercise to balance your adrenaline levels. At night, a few minutes gentle exercising, then a warm drink, will promote a good night’s sleep. Oh, and go easy on the wine! At the office, if you start to feel emotional, do deep breathing exercises to regain your composure. If you’re able to, a 5-10 minute walk outside will also give you time to reframe your thinking, defuse any resentment you are feeling and help you relax.
Carole Spiers is a leading authority on Corporate Stress and author of Show Stress Who’s Boss! £15.00 http://www.showstresswhosboss.co.uk
Nurse Shirley Scott, RGN, says:
Keep an exact account of what you do now compared to when you first joined the company and what you were doing a year ago, before the staff cuts. Look at areas you can delegate. When meeting your managers to discuss the problem, present them with a plan that shows you are not simply complaining but have a positive view of your role and where changes can be made. You may feel uncomfortable confronting them but you cannot be available round the clock. Perhaps you could offer to be available two or three evenings a week and switch your phone off the remaining time. Reaching for the corkscrew as soon as you get home is an easy habit, but alcohol causes dehydration which is why you wake and then can't get back to sleep. It can also induce palpitations which further add to your anxiety. Sleeping tablets may help short term but it’s far better to create a warm, relaxing environment in your bedroom. No TV or computer! Take a warm scented bath (lavender, valerian bath oils) and have a milky drink or herb tea, and use a lavender pillow. Keep a notepad by your bed so if you wake you can write down all that is worrying you to clear your mind.
Cheryl Rezek, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, says:
Fear often propels us to do things we know aren’t necessarily in our best interests, that stretch our moral and ethical beliefs, or even work against our health and well-being. When driven by fear, we become stressed and stress can translate itself into physical manifestations. It can be triggered by change, uncertainty, excessive demands or a life change such as redundancy or an illness. Lack of sleep, anxiety, depression, mood changes and anger are common features of stress, and people often use alcohol or drugs to try and ease their tension. It is sometimes helpful to differentiate between what stress is created from external sources, such as managers and economic crises, and what is generated from within ourselves as individuals. Difficulty in asserting oneself, a desire to please everyone all the time, fear of criticism or failure and a poor self esteem are examples of internal stress and these can be exacerbated by external stress. It is helpful to step out of the stressful situation and know there is a space between it and yourself. Cheryl helps you understand what happens when you are stressed and ways of managing it in the Stress Clinic, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnY8TA18CmQ&feature=player_embedded#
Dr Tim Robinson, GP, says:
In General Practice I hear your story too often. To have reached your position you are obviously good at your job, efficient and conscientious. However, I’m concerned your stress may lead onto depression, burn out or breakdown, which would lead to time off work and job threat. It’s important to address the root causes of the stress, but in the meantime homeopathic remedies can address your symptoms. Feelings of panic and acute anxiety are helped by taking Aconite 30c, repeated until the panic feelings pass – don’t worry, you can’t overdose! Anger and irritation towards your bosses are addressed effectively with Staphysagria to help prevent you exploding with rage. Three doses daily of the 30c potency is sufficient. For insomnia take Coffea 30c every 15 minutes until you get to sleep – these don’t have the addictive or hangover effects of alcohol or sleeping tablets. If you are in the habit of waking in the early hours of the night, take Arsenicum Album 30c at bed time – this is especially good for conscientious workers who wake at 1-2 am. If you do wake don’t forget to take Aconite to stop you worrying. Hopefully the medicines mentioned will address your various symptoms while you try to tackle the underlying stress. Good luck. Dr Tim Robinson MB BS MRCGP DRCOG MFHom practices homeopathy, nutritional medicine and acupuncture in Dorset. www.doctorTWRobinson.com
Jayney Goddard, President of The Complementary Medical Association, says:
You are exhibiting classic signs of stress which, while we tend to ignore it and chalk it up to ‘life’ is dangerous for health. So, it’s great that you’ve recognised the problem and can do something about it. Many of us have an inability to say “No” or to set firm boundaries and end up being run ragged trying to do everything we think is expected of us. There are many reasons for this inability to say “No” – not least of which is a fear that refusing a request will make us unpopular, seem unwilling to do our job, or seem uncooperative. You might like to look at cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) which can help you identify any underlying reasons why you find it difficult to say “No”, or to set firm boundaries. CBT is incredibly effective and you can get a referral to a practitioner from your GP.
Christopher Pick, Naturopath, says:
I’m sure you will have had the usual advice about time-management, not allowing people to take liberties in the workplace, learn to say no and speaking to management.
But it seems to me, given your levels of stress, that these well-meaning suggestions may not help you. All of us, at some point in our lives, have to step back and ask ‘what is important for my physical and mental health, my family relationships and my overall wellbeing?’ From your email I can see that all of these important factors are being affected. When we are stressed out it is difficult to make choices that are the correct ones for us. Staying on the treadmill will only exacerbate your condition until possibly you are forced into taking time off work resulting in a much lot longer recovery period. I would suggest that you take sick leave to recuperate and examine what is important to you. A less demanding job that allows you to enjoy your work, your family relationships, your free time and remain healthy seems to me to be the best course of action.
When you think of a typical alcoholic, you don't picture a lawyer or a doctor, and yet it is estimated that between 15-24% of lawyers will suffer from alcoholism during their career, and doctors are 3 times more likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver than the general population.
Efficiency is not a habit which is traditionally associated with alcoholics but many are capable of feats of organization which few sober people could ever manage. To reach the top of a highly competitive corporate ladder or high profile position and then remain there for years is no easy task, especially when you are an addict. Functional alcoholics are aplenty, particularly in high pressure, high paid jobs. Famous high functioning addicts include Winston Churchill, Boris Yelstin, and Eric Clapton.
The ‘functioning alcoholic’
The name given to people who have a serious drinking problem but still remain able to maintain what, for an addict, is a relatively normal existence. Their health, relationships and working life will inevitably suffer but often not to the extent that they become unmanageable.
Admitting you have a problem is universally accepted as being the first step on the road to recovery from addiction but for someone like Gary, an advertising executive in London, alcoholism didn’t seem like too much of a problem. He managed to maintain this image of the model professional for several years while in the grip of what, in hindsight, he acknowledges was an addiction to alcohol, but it took its toll on every other aspect of his life,
“I was married to the perfect woman but my drinking cost me my marriage and my kids. I could keep it together at work, I’d get drunk every lunch time but I somehow had the discipline to continue to do a pretty good job. The amazing thing was I was able to continue to stay pretty professional when I was at work, even though I was never sober for more than a few hours at the start of the day and had been prescribed anti depressants which I was taking every single day. However, I couldn’t keep it together at home, I think the effort of maintaining a pretence all day in the office just left me drained and once I got home I just needed to drink to relieve the strain.”
As a functional alcoholic, Gary had never previously had to properly face his demons because although his drinking had been problematic the pay cheques still kept coming in which allowed him to sustain his lifestyle. It wasn't until he suffered a family bereavement and whilst he was on compassionate leave, that unbeknownst to his colleagues, he spent the time at The Cabin, a modern residential treatment centre in Chiang Mai.
The idea that a serious addiction will automatically destroy your life is a stereotype which is perpetuated by the British media. In reality, while many people do lose everything as a result of their addiction, there are those, who manage to continue on a comparatively even keel. The problem for these people is that while life goes on there is often very little incentive to seek treatment.
Alistair Mordey, the Programme Director and Head Counsellor at The Cabin comments:
"People seem to have the view that you must have lost everything and hit rock bottom before you need to access help or seek some kind of treatment. Some people, especially high functioning people have not lost everything, and there is the view that this somehow makes them a different kind of addict. We must differentiate between a material rock bottom, where the addict loses all their possesssions or status, and an emotional rock bottom where they are essentially having what we used to call a nervous breakdown. In rehab we talk about high rock bottoms as opposed to a low rock bottoms; not everyone who hits rehab is coming off a low rock bottom where they have lost everything. Many are coming from a high rock bottom where they still have successful careers but have nowhere to go in terms of mood imbalance and emotional crisis".
High functioning addicts start using for the same reason low functioning addicts do, to self medicate an imbalanced brain chemistry and calm the symptoms of depression, anxiety or lack of focus (hyperactivity). However using addictive drugs or alcohol to make them feel better eventually stops working as the chemicals this produces in the brain become exhausted and both high and low functioning addicts are left with issues that leave them no option but to seek treatment and not rely on addictive processes.
"Treatment is about instilling new behaviours which will rebalance brain chemistry. This includes group therapy, exercise, new career or relationships goals etc. which are best implemented intensively in an inpatient setting, daily over a significant time span like 1-3 months. This is arguably why residential programmes are considered more effective.
Having a high rock bottom or a low rock bottom is often nothing more than social and environmental differences between individuals, ie how much we had to start out with. Whether you consistently manage to hang on to your material goods or social position, is not a good way to judge the severity of your addiction, but rather how much damage has it caused and will cause you, emotionally and mentally, is the true judge of whether you need treatment."
Addiction affects millions worldwide, whether it be the 5% of alcoholics on "skid row" or highly functional alcoholics, who are well-educated with good incomes.
Alastair Mordey (BA hons, RDAP, ADAP) is the Programme Director and Head Counsellor at The Cabin, an addiction treatment centre in Chiang Mai. He is a certified and accredited addiction counsellor with over 10 years’ experience working in treatment services. Website: The Cabin Chiang Mai www.thecabinchiangmai.com
Quoted by The Press Association: "A survey of 1,000 workers by recruitment firm Badenoch & Clark showed that only a third were happy in their current job, while one in four said they were "distinctly unhappy".
The firm's Happiness at Work Index showed that employee happiness has steadily fallen this year, with only just over a third saying their morale was high.
Nicola Linkleter, managing director of Badenoch & Clark, said: "As the results of the Prime Minister's initial research into the UK's happiness demonstrated earlier this summer, happiness at work is as high on the agenda as ever before. With work cited as a top five concern for UK citizens, workplace morale must be addressed as a critical business issue.
"The fluctuation in workplace happiness over this year can be attributed to a number of factors, including longer hours, increased financial strain at work and home, and reticence from senior management to invest in additional talent. Coupled with a lack of tangible job security, happiness at work is remarkably low, and must be dealt with as a priority issue.
"Organisations must now take action to create a working environment where employees are able to develop a sense that their work is both valuable and valued. Failure to do so may result in loss of talent, which in turn may lead to loss of potential revenue."
If your boss bullies you or puts you down, would you shirk your work, quit, or work even harder? According to a joint study by Edith Cowan University and the University of New England, yet to be published, depending on your gender, you will react very, very differently to workplace incivility. According to Dr Jennifer Loh, a senior lecturer and organisational psychologist at Edith Cowan University, and one of the study's authors, ‘You can look at bullying as the far end of incivility, on a spectrum. Bullying is very obvious. But what about more subtle forms of incivility – general gossip, people rolling their eyes at your suggestions, or making derogatory comments? These things are subtle, but have very nasty consequences. We wanted to look at that.’ After asking 317 individuals at various organisations what kinds of workplace incivility they had experienced, and how they reacted to it, Loh and her colleagues found that the victims’ gender had a role to play in how the situations played out. ‘One of the things that came out is that women were subjected to more workplace incivility,’ said Loh. ‘But interestingly, they not only put up with it, but worked harder in the face of it.’ On the other hand, if men were treated badly they tended to slack off. The researchers came up with various explanations as to why this may occur. Loh surmised that women brought up to be more passive in the face of mistreatment, and to care more about what other people think, and so may decide to put their heads down and impress mean bosses. Another explanation put forward is that women are commonly lower down in a company's hierarchy, and so may not be in a position of power to kick up a fuss over the incivility shown to them. Loh said, ‘Women were far more likely to give people the benefit of the doubt. They might interpret incivility as just someone having a bad day.’ However, she noted that this doesn’t mean managers should bully their female employees to get better results. ‘It doesn't work that way,’ she said. ‘If your organisation is perceived to be an uncivil one, where people are mistreated, that sets the culture. It becomes hostile. People there aren't happy. It's important to realise that if you treat people with disrespect, in the end, the company's reputation will suffer, and those talented people will leave companies that don't show them human courtesy. You can't bully women into doing more work.’
Workplace bullying has become a big topic over the past few years. Some statistics suggest that up to 35 percent of the work force have fallen victim to this some sort of intimidation or harassment while trying to do their job. It’s a fact that bullying has become an unpleasant fact of life among many workplaces. It can be even worse when it comes after someone has left a job, with the bullying employee continuing to make their life difficult by giving them a poor reference to a prospective employer.
There are a number of workplace bullying tactics – they can range from physical abuse, to public humiliation to simply making derogatory comments. It can affect victims very seriously. Any sort of workplace bullying can cause a loss of confidence, debilitating anxiety, panic attacks, clinical depression and even physical illnesses.
One of the most central aspects of the issue is the fact that management or supervisors are the most likely to be doing the bullying, and their bullying actions leave the recipient in a difficult position with regards to their employment. Do you stand up against your manager or employer and risk being sacked?
Fortunately, there is a solution in place if you find yourself in such a scenario. If you find yourself being the victim of a workplace bully who is speaking out of turn when responding to an employment inquiry, employees can exercise their right to the option of a ‘cease and desist’ letter or pursue further legal action. Such tools can help to ensure that the bully will have to stop their way of acting for fear of legal reprisal.
Many people have trouble with their boss at work. Working for a boss who treats you badly can really be a nightmare. This can even lead to a situation in which a manager or owner can because physically or mentally threatening to their employees. You hear stories about workplace bullying all the time, and unfortunately they seem to be growing in number as the effect of the recession takes hold and there is more stress in the working environment. On-the-job bullying can take a number of different forms, from a supervisor's verbal abuse and threats to cruel comments or relentless teasing by someone that you work with. And it could become the next major battleground in employment law. That is because many are considering legislation that would allow workers sue their employers or fellow members of staff for harassment that causes physical or emotional harm. Many companies already recognise the problems that workplace bullying can cause, including the fact that it can sap morale, lead to increased employee turnover and even affect the bottom line. Half of the employers in a 2011 survey by the management association reported incidents of bullying in their workplace. It was also revealed that about a quarter of human resources professionals themselves said they had been bullied. Some employers have begun to put in place anti-bullying policies, but advocacy groups want to take the matter even further. They have been urging policy makers to give legal rights to workers who do not already fit into a protected class based on race, gender or age. One reason that the issue has attracted more attention in recent years is that parents who deal with school bullying also realise that it can happen in the workplace.
Your reason for change
You should think very thoroughly though the reasons that you are changing your current job. Evaluating your decision is an excellent way to work out the underlying reasons behind this decision. Leaving your job on the grounds of not getting on with your colleagues or for the lack of job satisfaction are not the best reasons. If you feel that your issues can be resolved with some counselling, then you might be able to put your decision to quit on hold.
Pay versus experience
You should assess the value that will be added to your experience if you change jobs. Switching jobs simply because you want more money is not enough, if the learning opportunities are slim. Often employees switch jobs because they can get a higher salary. However, in the long run if the value of experience and knowledge gained diminishes, it could hamper your career progression.
Terms of employment
It’s a good idea to gauge the difference between your current salary package and the one you can get in the new company. Sometimes the figures of salary give a wrong impression and can lure an employee towards taking up a job that is worse in the long run. However, keep one detail in mind; even if the salary is more, you need to understand the expectations of the job.
Possibility for growth
You need to ensure that there will be plenty of space for your progress within the new company, otherwise any additional money may not be worth it in the long run.
No matter who you are, or where you work, wanting recognition for your efforts and contribution plays a big part in your sense of corporate wellness, as well as your personal wellbeing. Why do some people stay put in the same position, whilst others fly up the career ladder almost as soon as they’re first employed? Here and there, it may be because of the right opportunity at the right time, but more often than not the way you work determines how your career progresses. In order to move up the path of success, you have to work hard, but, more importantly, work smart. Firstly, ask yourself where you want to be in the next two years, five years, 10 years, 20 years, and so on. Setting your career goals allows you to work backwards and plan your strategy. What do you have to do in order to get from where you are now to where you want to be in the future, and how are you going to equip yourself to reach it? Next, take a closer look at your workload. Can you find a less complicated way of getting things done? Work procedures can help to get you started at a new job, but if there’s a better way of doing things that saves you and the company time and effort, then surely everyone wins. Understand your work and you’ll be able to find the most efficient and effective way to produce results, without compromising on quality. This way, you will have more time to perform other tasks and be more productive. One way you can do this is by organising your tasks by category. Group them together so that they may be carried out in the same place or capacity, thus enabling you to save time and resources. If you set a time that you answer all your emails, for example, as opposed to answering each one as it comes, you can prevent yourself from getting distracted by the emails throughout the day and utilise your time better to carry out more jobs. Finally, invest your time in activities that are of greater significance, focussing in particular on things you are good at. What work will help you develop higher or more advanced skills and how can you get involved in those opportunities? If you’ve already shown you’re more than capable of your current workload, your boss will see you can handle jobs that are of greater significance. However, don’t try to get your hands on every little task but, instead focus on tasks that you are better at so that you can produce the best results. This way, you will stand out and gain recognition for your effort and be moving up the career ladder swiftly and smoothly in no time.
While there have been many improvements surrounding gender discrimination in recent years there are still many ways that we could improve. In the UK we have taken a number of steps to attempt to affect an overall change in thinking and it is partly working – but now it seems we should be taking lessons from Canada in how to work gender equality properly. According to a new report, women in Canada now hold more top corporate positions than ever before. According to the 8th annual Rosenzweig & Company report, women in top executive jobs has almost double since the company’s first survey. This is very good news as it shows that women have become more respected in the highest positions in organisations. The report on Women at the Top Levels of Corporate Canada found that eight per cent of the highest paying executive positions are now held by women. That’s almost double the 4.6 per cent from the original survey. This shows that female leaders at Canada’s biggest public companies are increasing in number and the country may be approaching a tipping point very soon. In an ideal world this will mean that gender will no longer play a significant role in leadership hiring decisions and we will see gender equality at every level of society. The corporate world is still dominated by men, and the fact that just eight percent of the top jobs going to women is viewed as a massive success shows exactly how much the balance is out of proportion. However, the authors of the study remain optimistic due to the change that we have already seen. If we in the UK can match Canada’s improvement then it will definitely be a step in the right direction for corporate equality and a fairer workplace.
Would you go to the gym if your employer paid for you to get fitter and healthier? That’s the incentive on offer from one American local authority. Washington County, in Tennessee, is planning to give its full-time workers $300 every six months, effectively paying for their monthly gym membership, with the long-term aim of saving the county on insurance claims. If the wellness program is given the go-ahead by county commissioners, the cash incentive will kick in and those employees who qualify for the deal will be asked to join a gym that focuses on cardiovascular wellness. In return for their employer funding their gym membership, workers must go to the gym three times a week or at least 75 times during the six-month period. The program is being part-funded by a grant from Washington County’s health insurers with the local authority footing the rest of the bill. Washington County has 500 employees who would qualify for the program. The average monthly gym membership in the county is $50 and even if an employee joins a qualifying gym where membership fees are less, they will still receive the full $300 every six months, making the incentive that little bit more enticing. And the more employees who join the same gym, the cheaper their monthly fees will be as the employer can qualify for a corporate membership discount. There is a serious point to the wellness program with Washington County keen to improve the health of its employees, particularly heart health, and so reduce its long-term insurance bill.
When Sal Alvarez’s doctor told him he needed to be put on more medications to improve his wellbeing, he was discouraged. Alvarez’s wellness was affected by high cholesterol and blood pressure, but this made him newly determined to get his health on a better track. But what helped him get there? A corporate wellness programme offered by his employer, Discovery Communications. The Silver Spring-based company holds a voluntary, 16-week competition every year, in which participants divide into teams and try to walk the most steps. Using an online platform called Global Corporate Challenge, the employees log their progress and compare it to their rivals’. The system will also add on the calculated worth of any other workouts the competitors do, such as swimming or biking. According to Alvarez, a service desk analyst, the format is highly motivating from an early stage. ‘There’s sort of like a peer pressure and a competitive edge to it,’ he said. More and more companies are, like Discovery, turning to competitions and socially-based activities as a way to compel their workers to get fit. Thanks to a surge in online platforms that make it easy to track one’s performance and see how it stacks up against a co-worker’s, the trend in the “gamification” of wellness has increased, becoming a central component of many corporate wellness strategies. Employees enjoy the challenge of healthy competition, and the programme helps employers to curb employers’ the rising costs of health care. According to Adria Alpert Romm, the company’s senior executive vice president of human resources, Discovery’s most recent challenge drew 369 teams comprised of nearly 2,600 workers. The cable television programming giant tried to keep the competitive spirit running high throughout the programme. They did this by providing employees with teasing, pre-written e-cards that they could send one other. One such email chided, ‘16 weeks too much of a commitment? What are you, a Kardashian?’ On average, participants lost eight pounds each, and Alvarez continues to attend the boot camp-style fitness classes at Discovery, five months after the challenge has ended. Alvarez noted that he’s so committed to the classes, ‘I’ve had to push my wife’s birthday [celebration] to another day or later in the evening, because it’s that important.’ He added that the class ‘isn’t something that you dread. I look forward to it because the guy keeps you motivated.’
Bayt.com and YouGov recently carried out a survey which revealed that 38% of participants in the UAE receive little or no company support towards improving their overall wellbeing. However, some progressive companies out there have realised the importance of corporate wellness, including Abu Dhabi Health Services Co (SEHA), which ensures that over 17,000 employees stay fit and healthy. Teaming up with sport and social providers Duplays, SEHA has implemented wellness programmes for its staff. This means that SEHA employees can enjoy yoga and dance classes without having to worry about any costs, or take part in various sporting leagues, such as football and basketball ones. But why are SEHA bothering with a corporate wellness plan at all? This is all thanks to the work of Dr Mohamed Ali Karkoukli, a senior quality specialist at SEHA who is a big driving force behind the programme. Now, the chairman of the active committee at SEHA’s enthusiasm for sport, health and fitness seems infectious, but it wasn’t always that way. He said that he used to weigh over 130 kilos and smoke up to two packets of cigarettes a day, so what changed? He explained, ‘My son got sick one day when he was five and I wanted to pick him up to take him to hospital but I just couldn’t. That was why I made a choice. I thought to myself, if I cannot support my child now, what will happen a few years down the line? So I quit smoking in 2007 and I did my first 5k race in 2008. The next year I tried the Dubai Marathon with a 68-year-old colleague. Although we did not finish it, and we were limping for weeks afterwards, I was proud to put our photo on the desk.’ That photo changed company wellness habits forever. ‘People kept asking about it and getting interested and in 2010 I decided to participate again. I ran about 50k a week, and I made it round in just over four and a half hours,’ he said. ‘That was a breakthrough, and after speaking to the chairman I was encouraged to organise a work team to run in the Zayed International half marathon. We had over 60 people enter.’ Since this tipping point, SEHA have thrown their weight behind the wellness programme in conjunction with Duplays. Dr Ali said, ‘It’s about making a big difference to the people around you. It’s amazing to see your friends and colleagues as they change…it becomes contagious at corporate level, a preventative approach is so important when it comes to fitness. The healthy body will make the healthy mind open up, it is incredible.’
It wasn’t long after the chief executive officer of a North Carolina-based packaging company began providing the Omega Heaven cookie as a break-time snack for his employees that he realised the many health and nutritional benefits the nutritious dark chocolate-covered oat-fibre and fish oil snacks on offer.
As well as promoting the cookies’ great taste and numerous health benefits, CEO Jim Anderson said that there’s also the corporate branding advantage that can be put into place by using the Global Packaging Solutions logo on the individually-wrapped cookies. It is a multi-facetted venture.
“Everyone likes the ability to have to their name on things,” he said. “I think that this is a nice product that you can offer to your employees and show you have pride in the company. When employees see things with their name on it, they think, ‘That's kind of neat’.”
The founders of Omega3 Innovations were hoping exactly the same thing when they scheduled the launch of their corporate-wellness packaging. There can be no doubt that the combination of oat fibre, dark chocolate and omega-3 fish oil is good for the health of the workers and that the co-branding with the company logos helps a company market their corporate wellness programs to staff.
Each of the Omega Heaven snacks contains four grams of oat fibre or the level of fibre that is found in an average serving of oatmeal. The cookie also has lots of goodness that is derived from omega-3 fish oil; around the same level as three fish oil capsules.
This could be the way forward in promoting the idea of corporate wellness and if it catches on we could this sort of thing going on all the time.
Quoted by The Daily Post: "Heart Foundation health advocate Yvonne Skellern spoke at Toi Te Ora yesterday, helping businesses in the Work Well programme learn more about the role of diet in creating a healthy, productive workforce. "We need to eat well to be well."
The changes required to have a significant effect on the health of employees need not be large, Skellern said. A simple change from "dark blue" to low-fat, "green" milk could cut up to 2kg of fat from staff diets in a year.
She pointed to research in schools showing the effect of poor diet on concentration and behaviour of children, saying the same was true in the workplace.
Looking at the food supplied at meetings, morning teas and in the staff cafeteria was a good place to start, but Skellern said it was not about being the food police, more about providing healthy options and encouraging healthy eating habits. Getting staff from all levels involved was important and competitions could help get people behind healthy eating initiatives.
"Some people can be pretty competitive and competitions seem to get people excited about these things," she said.
Skellern recommended developing a nutrition policy to help drive company decisions.
Work Well health improvement adviser Angela Pootjes said businesses would see a significant financial return on their investment in promoting healthy eating among employees.
"As well as reducing sick days, you will also improve productivity by reducing the number of people who are there in body but not in their minds. Many workplace accidents occur because people are not fully concentrating - especially in factories or where people are working with heavy machinery," she said.
Businesses registering an interest in Work Well could do an online assessment of the financial benefits for them and Pootjes said the results were often surprising.
It was also important to look at diet in the wider context of health and well-being, which was the focus of the Work Well programme, and help was out there for people keen to implement healthier workplace policies and practices.
More information on workplace well-being and the Work Well programme can be found at www.workwell.health.nz
10 ways to help your staff develop healthier eating habits
Provide healthy options such as fruit and sandwiches.
Encourage staff to get regular health checks.
Provide clean facilities where staff can make and enjoy proper meals.
Put healthy food information and recipes in the staffroom.
Speak to your staff to find out where there are problems.
Invite experts into the workplace to educate and motivate.
Run competitions - vegetable growing, weight loss etc.
Encourage people to bring in excess seasonal fruit and vegetables from their gardens.
Provide lower-fat "light blue" or "green" milk.
Install a water cooler."
If you are a working person, you will spend a very large percentage of your life at your place of work. Whether this is an office, a classroom, and outdoor space or any other type of environment, it is very important that you make sure you protect your corporate wellness, and make a strong commitment to your wellness and wellbeing whilst at work, rather than thinking of it as something that is only really relevant when outside the workplace. Your employer should also be playing an active role in this, as it is in their best interest to have their employees as healthy as possible, as it stands to reason that they will be more committed and more productive when their wellness is not a concern. Most Americans work between 8 and 10 hours per day, over at least 5 days per week, so having wellness built in to their working life can be of real benefit. A ‘corporate warrior’ has been defined as someone who takes care of their health, in mind body and spirit, whilst also achieving highly in the corporate world. Part of this must be a blend between working hard and playing hard – in other words, making time for relaxation, enjoyment and mental health, and avoiding the temptation to become too immersed in the world of work. It is widely recognised that having other areas of focus actually helps workers to become more effective when they return to the coalface. Employers can also cut the costs of healthcare by protecting the wellness of their employees, as research has shown that between 50 and 70 percent of health claims are in some way related to lifestyle, and of course many of this pertains to the working environment. Improving health of employees not only leads to improved profitability through increased employee production, but also reduces the impact of health costs and sick pay.
Finding the balance between work life and home life can be very tricky indeed, but it is vital for corporate wellness. People take care of their wellbeing best of all if they are able to enjoy their work life, enjoy their home life, and let neither part encroach on the other in any way. Those who are at the top of their profession, such as Olympic gold medalist, swimmer Michael Klim, have the toughest challenge, as their work is an all-consuming passion that they find hard to let go of. Klim is fortunate to have the help of family and nannies to help him with his young family, but he admits that finding the right balance between work and home is something that he continually works on, for the sake of his wellness, and that it presents something of a challenge to him all the time. Like most men, it’s not just family that has a pull on his time – Klim also needs to make time for fun and friends, too. Klim admits that there have been times when he is with his family but not totally engaged with them as his mind has still been at work. Children can tell when they are not being totally focused on, and this can have a negative effect on their self esteem. Klim has created a lifestyle brand, the Milk men’s skincare range, and he points out that if he didn’t live well, he would be seen as a hypocrite. Klim feels that in order to achieve this there are several steps that you can take, to ensure work/life balance.
If you’re considering a corporate wellness programme for your company, you only need to look at the facts to make your decision. Wellness programmes lead to cost savings, happier employees and a more productive workforce – fact. So with the wellbeing of your employees and your business in the balance, how do you implement and maintain a corporate wellness programme that works? Firstly, let’s take a closer look at some of those lovely facts. 50-75% of all money spent on health-plan costs are lifestyle, or behaviourally, driven, from conditions such as obesity, hypertension, stress and smoking. Your company can impact or mitigate the cost of insurance by reducing the lifestyle-driven portion of the expense. For example, Johnson & Johnson saved $250 million dollars through their corporate wellness programme between 2002 and 2008, returning $2.71 for every dollar invested. So what are the challenges that you face when trying to implement a corporate wellness programme? The first is knowing exactly what to do. You may be unsure of regulations, and wary of "encouraging" employees to quit smoking, or begin exercising and improving their diets. Your organisation may not have the resources to successfully manage such a programme, or you may be uncertain of the investment and resources needed to implement it; how is the budget going to stretch to this? Who is going to manage the programme? There are your challenges, but here are your solutions! Wellness means taking complete responsibility of the items you have control over like obesity, hypertension, stress and smoking, and so the art is in getting your employees to voluntarily participate and take control. You need to get employees motivated and involved in the process; otherwise your programme will not succeed. Working with an expert can help you to navigate this challenge, and companies who have done this before can offer you a framework for activities and strategies that work, and don’t cost the earth. When done right, corporate wellness programmes save you money, and make your employees happier and more productive. All you need to do is choose the right partner to implement the programme and help get your staff motivated.