Workplace wellbeing has been a hot topic for some time, especially since the pandemic blurred the lines of work-life balance and brought us a lot of stress to manage, both inside and outside of work. But what does workplace wellbeing actually look like? A wellbeing webinar that we try to listen to but lose focus half way through? A healthy eating incentive fruit bowl in the staff room? A contribution to fitness subscriptions? It’s the right direction, but it doesn’t always feel like enough support.
With burnout rates rocketing, The Great Resignation sweeping the working world in 2021, working from home, and facing huge lifestyle changes prioritising employee wellbeing became a common need in the workplace over the past few years.
From working with wellbeing companies (like us), to employing more supporting roles, to encouraging autonomy, to offering a healthy lunch option in the canteen. Workplace wellbeing looks different for everyone, and for each company we’re sure. And sometimes it doesn’t quite feel enough, that healthy lunch option doesn’t prevent our workloads becoming overwhelming. That support role may be unused for fear of speaking about a personal problem in the workplace.
What does taking care of our wellbeing at work look like?
When we talk about wellbeing at work, we often find it hard to actually implement because we might feel unprofessional, guilty, and often overlook the little things that end up as big things. We ignore the sniffles and tingly throat and keep plodding through the week only to be struck down with a head cold that keeps you off work the next. Had we taken a day off, an afternoon or cancelled evening plans for an early night to rest, we may have fought a nasty cold off.
Now of course, it’s not always as simple as taking time off or having a holiday - which often really does help, but really isn’t feasible.
So here’s some examples of taking care of our wellbeing at work:
Let your basic needs come first
Taking a 10 minute break after a meeting to stretch and move your body, refreshing your posture and focus.
Bringing a balanced lunch from home to save time and money (and time worrying about money) but remember to take a break from your screen while you eat. Maybe one that includes some walnuts to help brain power (that’s true!)
Cutting back your afternoon caffeine fix to see if it helps you fall asleep later tonight, and how you feel the next morning.
Your mood matters
Having a doughnut from the break room because you love doughnuts.
Expressing your feelings about the traffic this morning to vent and not let it dampen your day.
Finding stress management techniques that help you overcome the panic right before a presentation, so you can stay calm and speak confidently to the audience.
Creating a clear agenda each week to help you stay focused and on track with tasks, before realising it’s Thursday afternoon and it looks like you’ll be taking work home for the weekend.
Asking for help when we’re feeling overwhelmed by a particular task, before the task becomes really stressful to manage alone.
Workplace wellbeing doesn’t have to look transformational, life changing or become a huge demand for us. The small things that feel fairly easy to do are our tools, building a habit of using these tools allows us to lean back on these, use them in moments of despair, or keep the weeks running a bit more smoothly. And as we build up our tool kits we’ll find it’s a bit easier to get through the day, and help us feel satisfied and content with our work.
And the good news is we don’t have to focus on things that directly affect our jobs. Taking care of our wellbeing outside of work is a huge help, like getting an early night to feel rested and refreshed before a big presentation, or eating a nourishing breakfast to start the day with energy and brain power. Making time to move your body after work or at lunch, taking time to switch off after work, catching up with an old friend, doing something that brings us joy.
Sure, these things won’t eliminate workplace woes, stress or conflict. They won’t reduce our workload or allow us to feel able to take an afternoon off, nor will they see everyday be super productive or feel good. But it does mean that when it gets tough, demanding or stressful we are better equipped to cope with it - without it taking us down and needing a week off to recover.