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How to be happier and more productive at work

Friday, Oct 7, 2016, by Sheryl Blythen

Businesses are taking a broader approach to employee wellness to reap the benefits of better staff engagement, higher productivity and a lower workforce turnover, says wellbeing expert Louise Thompson. Thompson says she is working with more corporate organisations who recognise that wellness is four dimensional. “In the past wellbeing programmes have focused almost exclusively on the physical aspects of exercise and diet. That’s important, of course, but true wellbeing looks at the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects as well,” she says. “Many workplaces are evolving from covering the health and safety basics, such as how to lift a box without hurting your back and how to put a healthy lunchbox together. They are asking, ‘How could meditation or mindfulness practices be helpful for our people? How can people improve sleep quality? How can we help our people be more emotionally resilient?’” Thompson says it’s encouraging to see workplace wellbeing programmes becoming more multi-faceted, encompassing areas such as energy management, financial wellbeing, altruism, life-work balance and connecting with passion and purpose. “It’s about giving people practical tools and strategies  that allow them to be more mentally focused, more emotionally resilient – to be more productive and focused at work, but also able  to switch off and leave work at work to enjoy their downtime.” A spiritual connection to something “bigger than themselves” is also important as wellness incorporates the whole person. And allowing people to bring their whole selves to work is an important part of having an inclusive culture. The benefits of a healthier workforce is more productive employees who come up with better ideas and ultimately make more money, says Thompson. “Think about how you perform when you are really tired and you’ve ground through your day compared with being energised, on your game and more connected with your colleagues,” she says. Although it can be hard to put a tangible value on wellness, there are measurements companies can track. “If you reduce your sick days by five per cent and increase productivity by one per cent, what’s that worth to you?” Staff who are happier at work and more engaged are less likely to leave and lower turnover means lower recruitment costs, Thompson says. Diversity Works New Zealand is partnering with Thompson to run a public Wellness Works workshop, aimed at giving people practical strategies that will improve their wellbeing. “It’s about giving people small changes that will make a big impact. We will also cover why it’s hard to make healthy habits stick and the psychology behind that. It’s not because people are weak or lack willpower. As well as the public workshop, Diversity Works NZ and Thompson can work with local businesses and other organisations to deliver this training to their staff. “Once you understand the psychology of building healthy habits that have longevity, you can easily integrate practices that up your energy, focus and productivity long term,” Thompson says. That’s key to enjoying home life and having a healthy work life, she says. “We want people to be engaged at work, not just collecting a pay cheque.” The Wellness Workshop will be held in Auckland on November 3. For more information, visit https://diversityworksnz.org.nz/eventsandtraining/wellness-works/

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