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A five-step plan to healthy work

2nd Dec 2010
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Bad personal habits don't just manifest themselves in your private life. Wellbeing expert Jody Delichte offers five simple tips to help people stay balanced.

Employees spend up to a third of their lives at work - and sometimes more. The latest research from Gallup shows that the impact of stress on productivity can be significant and identified the following simple techniques to minimise its impact.

1. Increase use of strengths
Everyone has strengths, which are based on their individual patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviours. While one person may be great at coming up with new ideas and concepts, another person may be energised by gathering and analysing information. When people are using their strengths they are more likely to enjoy what they are doing, as well as perform better.

Gallup’s research has found that when people have the opportunity to use their strengths every day, they are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life, as well as enjoy more of their work week. Higher engagement at work has been linked to increased happiness and interest throughout the day, lower depression, and decreased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
Employees can therefore improve their mental and physical wellbeing by recognising how they are already using their strengths and identifying how they can use more of them in new ways, either in their role or perhaps through participation in other organisational activities.

2. Develop positive social connections
Recent research by Gallup suggests we need six hours a day of social time to maximise our enjoyment and happiness and minimise stress and worry. Social time doesn’t just mean lunches and after work drinks with friends; it also includes working with other people including telephone, email and other online communications. It is about connection with others.

However, the number of connections alone will not improve wellbeing, especially if those connections are negative. Spending time with someone who complains incessantly or eats unhealthy food all the time is likely to lead to the adoption of some of their habits and a reduced sense of wellbeing.

The good news is that the reverse is also true. Happy, healthy people, with higher levels of wellbeing often boost the health and wellbeing of those around them. They can also provide healthy support during challenging times. So ensure that there are not only a sufficient number of social connections throughout the day, but also that those connections are positive in nature and will boost wellbeing as opposed to reducing it.

3. Make more healthy choices
Eat healthy food. Exercise at least 20 minutes every day. Sleep 7-8 hours a night. The same messages have been communicated repeatedly, yet many people still make negative choices for their health.

Just 38% of people Gallup studied around the world reported that they had exercised or had a lot of physical activity in the last day. Exercise is not just about the physical benefits; it impacts mental wellbeing as well. Our studies have shown that even just exercising two days per week can result in more happiness and less stress.
Similarly, eating healthy foods, such as those rich in Omega-3s like salmon, and dark vegetables like broccoli and spinach not only reduce chances of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, but can also improve mood for the rest of the day. Yet when it comes to choosing what to eat, people make choices that may taste good in the moment, but negatively impact their mood later, and their health in the long term.

To improve physical and mental wellbeing, make more healthy choices. Choose a salad instead of pizza. Have fruit instead of the chocolate cake. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go for a walk at lunch. Go to bed a little earlier. Be conscious of the choices being made and choose for longer-term benefit as opposed to immediate gratification – at least more often.

4. Get involved
Gallup’s latest research identified community wellbeing as one of the five key domains of overall wellbeing. While this includes the general safety and quality of the environment within which one resides, it also includes involvement in the community and a sense of giving back to society. ‘Well doing’ has been linked with deeper social interaction, enhanced meaning and purpose, and a more active lifestyle, as well as the reduction of stress and negative emotions.

So get involved. Participate in existing community programmes within the organisation, or if none exist look at creating a new one. It’s likely that participating will have a positive impact on one’s own mental and physical wellbeing as well as on the recipients involved.

5. Set positive defaults
When things get busy and stressed, it is easy to slip back into old habits, regardless of the best intentions. It may be faster to take the elevator. The chocolate cake may seem like the best option for an energy boost. Time may seem too scarce to consider social connections or involvement in community programmes. Plan how to manage these busy and stressful times when there is time to connect with wellbeing intentions and time to think clearly about contingency plans.

Clarity of intentions, identification of strategies, commitment to new behaviours, and contingency planning can help ensure continued movement along the path towards mental and physical wellbeing.

Jodie Delichte, engagement manager for The Gallup Organization has more than 12 years of global marketing and communications experience and is a well known wellbeing expert. This article first appeared on our sister site,


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By weaversmiths
03rd Dec 2010 17:12

Well Being

Does this mean that I must separate work from pleasure and therefore not read all the interesting comments made on this site or listen to heavy rock music while I work? (;-).  I think its far too late for me to change my habits.



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By kchuttun
04th Dec 2010 13:39

It is never too late

 Weaver it is never too late to change - where there is a will there will always be a way. 

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14th Dec 2010 12:59

Should employers take a more proactive approach to employee's we

Here, here. An interesting report that needs to be explored further.

Is your workforce a healthy, happy and productive one?With ever increasing demands and deadlines being placed on workers, often resulting in a highly stressed work force, it would seem imperative employers should strive to implement an appropriate intervention to reduce stress. By doing so, employers reap the rewards of a productive workforce, reduced staff absenteeism, and a generally happier staff relationship with management. This can further display the company’s gratitude to employees through care of their wellbeing, with the benefit for the company being that they see an increase in staff retention and profit.Maintain your most valuable assetTaking a proactive approach to managing the health of your people makes good business sense. In addition, it demonstrates your commitment to your staff.Did you know?Over 175 million working days are lost to ill health each year, with the annual economic cost of stress and sickness absence estimated to be over £100billionStress, musculoskeletal and back pains are among the most common (and most preventable) causes of absence in manual and non-manual workers.The average level of sickness absence is 8.4 days per employee, per year, at an average cost of £780 per employeeWhy not supplement your current Occupational Health provision?Many businesses already conduct health screenings for their employees that help highlight areas for improvement, e.g. blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose checks. The DYMONDstrength Health & Wellbeing assessment service allows each individual to be educated into how they can improve on these areas and monitors the workforce through the development of an effective Health & Wellbeing programme.A successful health and well-being programme, where employee physical and mental well-being is protected and improved, results in sustained staff morale leading to greater workplace engagement and in turn drives increased productivity.For more information visit, call today on 07739 791 939, or email us at [email protected] .

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