“Hey Penny,” said Monique energetically as she greeted me at the after-hours business networking event.
“Aren’t you chipper today!” I replied, almost envying her energy level at the end of a busy work day.
“Yes,” she said, “I have been fueled all day with workplace wellness!”
“That sounds like a great concept, Monique. I’ll have some of what you’re having! Tell me, how do you feel so good at the end of a busy work day?”
Monique, the Executive Director of Community Services at our local Health Unit, presented her day in review: “I biked to work today — helmet on, of course — and parked in the bike rack conveniently provided for staff. I was scheduled for meetings all morning, but I made sure to take a nutrition and hydration break at 10 a.m. My lunch break was healthy, too: I enjoyed a plate of cottage cheese and fruit, and refilled my glass of water. I gave my attention to Bob, whose grandmother had recently passed away; it gave me a chance to pass along my condolences and offer support.
“In the afternoon, Brenda, the manager of Healthy Living, suggested that we conduct a ‘walking meeting’ for the first 15 minutes of our hour-long meeting. On our way out we greeted two groups of staff in the parking lot: one group was on its way to the gym (the Health Unit had secured a corporate rate) and the other group was headed to the local arena to enjoy a free skate.
“The ‘walking meeting’ was a great way to converse and be active at the same time. I felt completely refreshed after the quick walk and found that I was able to attend to our meeting with improved concentration. The meeting was quick, efficient, and productive.
“We held a team-building activity which we call ‘Recess Revival’ during our afternoon break. Our office staff went outside to skip and play hopscotch, and I even learned a new game!
“When I returned to my office, I responded to email, returned calls, and worked on a long-overdue project. The smile didn’t leave my face for the rest of the day — I was so content that I didn’t even notice when it was time to leave! I also had the energy left to network for 30 minutes at the Chamber of Commerce event on my way home.”
“Wow,” I thought to myself. I was almost tired from simply listening to Monique’s breakdown of her daily activities, but then I understood how she was able to maintain a healthy work/life balance. For years, I thought that when I was at work I needed to be doing work, and so I would try to squeeze my fitness and health focus into the evenings. But the workplace is as good a place as any to get a life, I realized.
People often ask me, “How can I find time to balance my life when I am so busy living it?” The main thing is to keep the main things as main things. For example, your health is a ‘main thing’. Without it, you cannot be as happy, productive, or satisfied with yourself or your job performance. Paying time and attention to your health is, therefore, a ‘main thing’ that needs to stubbornly stick to your weekly calendar. Monique’s active day demonstrates that both employees and employers need to consider workplace wellness as an important part of their organizational culture.
Organizational culture can be defined as “the way we do things around here”. A strong culture can enhance employees’ performance since it energizes by appealing to their ideals and values and focuses on setting meaningful and unified goals. A strong organizational culture ultimately shapes employee behavior.
Whether you are part of a large organization or small business with one or more employees, your workplace can and should utilize workspace and time to help employees find a good balance of health and wellness while on the job.
As the cool season arrives, so does the need for creative thinking toward workplace wellness and health. I challenge you to implement at least one healthy practice that you can incorporate every day while at work.
Give yourself the time to get a life — one that will support your greatest potential.
(This article is dedicated to the Laura, Brenda, and Monique of the North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit for their efforts in promoting workplace wellness and ‘walking the talk’.)