Featured Whistler Question newspaper column, August 22, 2017: Wellness at Work
Poor air quality from the recent fires pushed many of us indoors on the west coast and served as a reminder how blessed we are to have a natural playground in our backyards. Whistler is a mecca for outdoor activity and breaking away from work to soak it all up is a strong draw. Regardless, Canadians apparently spend a lot of time at work.
Too Much Time Indoors
According to a 2012 ‘Balancing Work and Caregiving in Canada’ study, almost two-thirds of Canadians are working more than 45 hours a week and flextime arrangements have actually dropped by a third in the past 10 years.
Although work-life balance is pushed to the forefront as people struggle to manage all the pulls on their time, some focus should be placed on creating a healthy environment when people are in their workplace.
Why Healthy Workspaces Matter
That is as important to employers as to employees because a healthy, happy workforce means fewer disability claims, lower absenteeism, and boosted productivity. Consequently, an employee will benefit from increased job satisfaction and an active life.
A healthy workplace means more than fighting off germs and actually targets overall wellness. Arizona State University professor emeritus Chuck Corbin, a trailblazing physical education scholar defines wellness as: “a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.”
Therefore, workplace wellness should be considered more holistic and envisage the spiritual, physical, environmental, intellectual, emotional, occupation and mental health of employees.
Some businesses have workplace wellness programs but ultimately, employees can take responsibility for ensuring they get what they need for their own comfort and contentment.
Tips to Create a Healthy Workspace
Here are some tips to create healthy, harmonious surroundings at work.
- Workplace ergonomics is a key factor in preventing injury. Canadian employers are legally required to meet health, safety and ergonomic standards and most will at least provide the basics – an adjustable chair, proper keyboard and lighting.
- Create a space that brings you joy. Keep a calendar with jokes or inspirational quotes on your desk to inspire you daily. Place a photo front and centre that makes you smile. Add a plant for natural energy as they consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
- Keep a book with positive messages handy so you can read a couple pages to keep you on track. Richard Carlson’s ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ and ‘Simplify Your Life’ by Elaine St. James are a couple favorites.
- Clear away clutter. A 2012 Forbes article cited a report that tidy, organized workspaces are conducive to a positive mindset that is motivated to work. Conversely, office clutter undermines productivity and motivation.
- Take breaks to recharge in a way that is meaningful to you. Read a book, go for a walk, sit outdoors, meditate, connect with a friend – just ensure that it disconnects you from work and allows your brain to rest. Hint: walking with a work friend and talking about work stuff is not recommended.
Each of us has the responsibility to build self-care in to our work environment and taking care of ourselves is paramount to making that a reality. By doing so, you’ll have a lot more to offer everyone and everything in your life.
At Lighthouse Visionary Strategies, Cathy Goddard offers business and life coaching, workshops and the popular Open Forum speaker series. She is founder of Lighthouse Mentor Network, a mentor program nominated for Small Business BC Awards for 4 consecutive years. She writes this column for the Whistler Question newspaper.