Work Less to Thrive More?

To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.
“I have no time to exercise.”
“By the time I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is go to the gym… or prepare food.”
Let me first start by sympathizing with these statements – I get it. Second, let me authenticate these feelings. I recently read a brilliant article that puts data behind these “excuses.”
People ARE working too hard. Technology and globalization have spread the workday across time-zones and traveling has become part of some individual’s weekly commutes. The recession only adds to the adage, “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is a little extra” as people add extra hours to their already extended workdays in hopes of proving themselves to their employer as well as the world.
This has become a double edged sword. Managers are now noticing fatigue more often on the job and presenteeism is now a larger concern. (For those of you seeing this term for the first time, presenteeism is a term used to describe the physical presence of an employee but lack of mental presence or capable state of mind to carry out typical job functions). A 2010 WorkForce Management Study reported that a whopping 40% of American and Canadian workers found their work to be depressing.
Adding to lost productivity is the fact that companies are now realizing their health care costs are shooting through the roof. Spending on health care in the United States is twice as large as the spending on food and greater than the spending on ALL goods and services in China- which is completely unsustainable!
Research from experts across the globe is showing stronger correlations between sitting for long periods of time (sedentary periods) and chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. David Trippany, SteelCase Research Ergonomist, explains “physical wellbeing impacts cognitive and emotional wellbeing, to have the brain fully firing, the body needs to be supported and comfortable.”
I’m lucky enough to work for a company that realizes the value within happy and healthy employees for their bottom line and has been progressive in their employee wellness offerings. Since employees are spending so much time at work it’s the ideal venue to address health related issues. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with what I do, let me go further. I work for a company that runs wellness programs for innovative and progressive companies to reduce their health care costs, decrease their absenteeism rates and improve their productivity.
The workout facility is located on the companies’ campus and offers the employees a site to workout for free (or minimal cost). I am in charge of implementing, structuring and incentivizing programs, classes and educational information that engages the employees to come in and use the facility. When designing these programs, I look toward specific behavioral changes that I would like to see, what behaviors will lead to the greatest amount of change and how I will motivate and enable change. The six-sources of influence fill in the rest of designing a successful program. (From the book Influencer by Kary Patterson)
I wish I could express in words the amount of satisfaction that my job provides me on a daily basis. A recent survey that we put out to participants in our last program does provide some data and feedback that makes me proud of what I do. 82% of the participants (we had a total of 128) reported that they exercised more frequently and 69% reported that they will continue with at least one of the activities that they were introduced to. 13% said they felt and increased sense of productivity and 29% reported feeling decreased stress. My favorite survey response and program outcome however had to do with decreasing body fat or weight… Drum roll please… 15% of the participants lost body fat or decreased their weight! Now that’s what I call a success.
That’s what I get up each morning to really do. Motivate and inspire other individuals to be the best they can be. This job is simply an outlet for me to realize this dream. I want others to realize that when the physical, mental and emotional factors of wellbeing are fully realized, people thrive- and so do businesses.
(2013). Wellbeing@work. 360°Levearging Complexity , 61, 16-23.

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