Linking Health and Safety at work

Organisations are recognising the relationship between safe workers and healthy workers.

Workplace health and safety is critical in every business but even with strict safety policies, procedures, safe systems and employee training in place, accidents and workplace illnesses still happen! Health and wellbeing initiatives can bridge the gap where safety programs end to make a difference in safety and overall
company culture.

Organisations that invest in wellbeing initiatives can expect to see a decrease in work-related accidents and
injuries. In fact, benefits are broader than purely financial gains from reducing absenteeism, accidents, injuries, and work-related health problems. Workplace wellbeing programs that address lifestyle risk factors and health risks of workers lead to more engaged employees, reduced turnover, reduced claims and higher productivity.

Health & Safety Management Timeline

Being ahead of the curve from a health and safety perspective is not just about robust health and safety culture. It’s about creating an environment that places employee wellbeing as a top priority.

The traditional approach to managing safety starts with the introduction of policy, roles and responsibilities,
and training. This is followed by risk assessments, implementation of control procedures and safe systems
of work.

Despite these efforts, accidents still occur. Over recent years a behavioural safety approach has proven to be
successful at reducing workplace accidents, yet rates still exceed acceptable levels. The next logical step is to address employee lifestyles from both a business and employee perspective.

What happens at home affects the workplace – and vice versa. Stress, anxiety, sleep loss, obesity, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, lack of concentration and memory changes can affect critical behaviours regarding safety in the workplace.

How Does Reduced Wellbeing Impact Safety?

When employees aren’t feeling their best physically and mentally, it can have a huge impact on their ability to perform at their best. The following conditions are likely to be strong contributors to major causes of accidents:
*Reduced cognitive function
*Increased fatigue
*Poor concentration and distraction
*Falling asleep at work
*Reduced memory and recall
*Reduced flexibility and mobility
*Increase in mental health conditions
*Changes in attitude and behaviour

How Healthy Employees Lead to a Safer Workforce?
All of these factors can contribute to workplace accidents as well as simple slips,
trips and falls, back and neck problems, and manufacturing and vehicular accidents
in the workplace.

Serious claims and workplace incidents remain costly to organisations in terms of lost productivity, compensation, and insurance premiums.
There are:
6 serious claims per million hours worked
$10,800 AUD$ median payout claim
5.2 WEEKS median lost time
45% of incidents are a result of physical and mental health issues

What steps is your workplace doing to try to prevent and hopefully reduce these numbers? It not only affects your workplace, but your employees lifestyle and the lifestyle of their families. It is not just about ticking boxes, but being proactive to cater the program(s) to match your goals, values and culture.

Which Lifestyle Factors Affect Workplace Safety?

Sleep
Sleep quality is the most crucial lifestyle factor affecting safety in the workplace. The constant need for employees to be ‘on’ is having a big impact on their ability to switch off at the end of the day. Occasional sleep loss can be recovered but when employees move into the sleep deficit category, there can be a dramatic impact on work performance. Poor sleep quality can affect mood, impair concentration, decrease memory function,
increase fatigue and reduce reaction time. These negative impacts are all key ingredients in health and safety accidents, so bringing awareness to the importance of sleep is crucial in reducing employee safety risks.

Stress
The way employees manage stress in their personal and professional lives has a big impact on their focus, as well as how easy it is for them to sleep. While it’s hard to eliminate stress from the equation altogether, it’s possible to help employees manage and cope with it.

Physical Activity
Employees who don’t regularly exercise, or are predominantly sedentary during their work day, can suffer from musculoskeletal problems, work-related upper body disorders, obesity and stress.

Obesity
Employees that are obese or overweight have a higher risk of slips and trips, are more likely to suffer from musculoskeletal problems, and manual handling problems, as well as being more prone to sleep apnoea, fatigue and the onset of chronic diseases like Type 2 Diabetes.

How Can You Mitigate the Impact of These Lifestyle Factors?
There are several ways that employers can limit the impact that lifestyle factors can have on safety
in the workplace:

1 Recognise the impact that an employee’s lifestyle can have, not only on themselves, but their co-workers.
2 Integrate a robust employee health and wellbeing strategy into your business and educate employees about the link between their own health and safety in the workplace.
3 As part of your risk assessment program, look for areas that might have higher health risks and introduce
initiatives to counter risk. For example, focus on sedentary roles in administration or transport, or work roles that have high levels of stress.
4 Incorporate health-related metrics in your health and safety reporting.
5 When reviewing current safety procedures or introducing new ones, consider any wellbeing aspects to the procedure. For example, introducing stand-and-stretch breaks into meetings longer than thirty minutes.
6 Ensure your employee wellbeing committee is collaborating with your workplace safety committee.

It’s important for HR leaders and employers to not only encourage and educate their employees on specific health and safety procedures, but also provide a workplace that fosters a culture of health and wellbeing.

Do what you like. Find something you enjoy.

With our mental health at the forefront of many peoples minds at the moment, I, and I would like to think many others often wonder how the top business people manage to keep themselves mentally healthy and stress free.

I guess it is not really being stress free, but how you deal with your stress that matters.

We all have stress, and in fact do require a certain amount of stress, but what do some of the top business people do to destress? You will find out some of those answers here.

Stress affects all of us sometimes. According to the NHS, work, relationships, and money problems are some of the most common triggers.

When you have a lot going on at work, it can get even harder to focus. This can result in a build up of more work you haven’t been able to concentrate on, thus causing a vicious cycle of a more stress.

CEOs and founders of big companies have all gone through stressful moments like everyone else, and they all have different ways of dealing with the tough times.

Here are how some of the most successful people in the world have learned to unwind after years of managing the stress that comes with running a global business.

1. Bill Gates reads before he goes to bed

Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates likes to read before bed. He told The Seattle Times he reads for at least an hour, no matter how late it is.

Gates has also taken a lot of advice from Warren Buffett over the years. In an interview with Fortune magazine, Gates said something he learned from Buffett was to keep things simple.

“His ability to boil things down, to just work on the things that really count, to think through the basics — it’s so amazing that he can do that. It’s a special form of genius.”

In other words, strip away all the fuss and it’s easier to focus on the task at hand.

2. Tim Cook tunes out the cynics

After receiving an honorary degree from The University of Glasgow, Apple CEO Tim Cook advised students to stay positive and tune out a lot of the noise you’ll come up against in life. Listening to everyone all the time is incredibly stressful.

“In today’s environment, the world is full of cynics and you have to tune them out,” he said. “Because if not, they become a cancer in your mind, in your thinking, and you begin thinking that you can’t or that life is negative.”

3. Meg Whitman goes fly-fishing

Meg Whitman has had an amazing career at several massive companies, including P&G, eBay, and now Hewlett-Packard. In an interview with Fast Company, Whitman mentioned her love of fly-fishing. She and her son go about six times every year.

According to research from the University of California’s Merced campus, engaging in leisure activities can provide immediate stress relief, and can also have other health benefits. Research from the National Library of Medicine also showed regular leisure activity can manage negative feelings such as stress.

4. Warren Buffet plays the ukulele

Warren Buffet, one of the most successful investors in the world, is a man of many hobbies. He enjoys playing the ukulele, and has even performed on live news.

The study from the University of California, Merced, also found engaging in a mentally stimulating activity such as learning an instrument can help reduce stress.

5. Sheryl Sandberg turns off her phone at night

For Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, it isn’t so much about what she does, but what she doesn’t do. She tries to stop herself scrolling through social media or reading emails at night by turning her phone off.

She told USA Today it’s painful to switch off, but she gets the benefits of not being disturbed throughout the night. After all, a better night’s sleep makes it a lot easier to deal with stressful situations the morning after.

Looking at our laptop and phone screens late at night is very bad for us, according to research which has shown the light can prevent our bodies from releasing a hormone called melatonin which helps us sleep. Basically, the less screen time at night, the more your body clock will thank you.

6. Jack Dorsey sticks to a schedule

In an interview with Forbes, Twitter cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey said the way he deals with having a lot on his plate is by having a schedule, and sticking to it.

Dorsey likes to compartmentalise tasks for certain days of the week. Mondays are for meetings, Tuesdays are for developing products, Wednesdays are for marketing tasks, Thursdays are for networking, and Fridays are for building company culture. Saturday he can take a break, but it all starts up again on Sunday, which is recruitment day.

“I think generally stress comes from things that are unexpected,” Dorsey told Forbes. “The more you can set a cadence around what you do and the more ritual and the more consistency you can build in your schedule, the less stress you’re going to have.”

According to New York Magazine, Dorsey also goes for a 10km run every morning.

7. Susan Wojcicki makes time for family holidays

For YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, managing stress is all about taking enough time off for herself. She spoke on Today about the importance of properly addressing her family life before returning to work.

“I think it’s really important to take time off,” she said, “I’ve also found that sometimes you get really good insights by taking time off, too.”

8. Elon Musk faces his fears head-on

In 2008, the worldwide economy wasn’t looking good. Car companies were going bankrupt, and Tesla was struggling. CEO Elon Musk was also going through a divorce at the time. However, he managed to get through it and thrive, making calm, collected decisions along the way.

So what was his secret? At the Dublin Web Summit in 2013, he explained how it’s all to do with fear, and that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs just aren’t afraid to fail.

“Fear is finite, hope is infinite. We are afraid of failing, but it doesn’t stop us from trying,” he said. “People should certainly ignore fear if it’s irrational. Even if it’s rational and the stake is worth it, it’s still worth proceeding.”

9. Indra Nooyi focuses on self-confidence

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi learned her confidence and work ethic at a young age. She told Business Insider that every night at the dinner table, her mother would challenge her and her sister to write a speech about what they would do if they were prime minister or president. Every day it would be a different world leader they would have to pretend to be, and Nooyi’s mother would vote for either her or her sister.

Nooyi’s grandfather, a charismatic judge, also helped her confidence. If she was unable to do something, he would make her write “I will not make excuses” 200 times on a piece of paper.

All of this fuelled Nooyi on to achieve a successful career, and she reminds herself of everything she is capable of if things get stressful.

“In my heart I said, ‘I can do this better than anyone else can, and if everything else fails, they’re going to come to me and say, ‘Fix it,’ because I know I’m that good,” she told Business Insider. “Remember, I could be president of India!”

10. Jeff Bezos laughs a lot

“In my particular case, I laugh a lot,” said Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in an interview with Academy of Achievement.

He also said a large part of feeling stressed is ignoring things that you shouldn’t be ignoring.

“Stress primarily comes from not taking action over something that you can have some control over,” he said. “I find as soon as I identify it, and make the first phone call, or send off the first e-mail message, or whatever it is that we’re going to do to start to address that situation — even if it’s not solved — the mere fact that we’re addressing it dramatically reduces any stress that might come from it.”

In other words, identify the problem, take control of it, and move forward.

Let’s not overcomplicate your de-stressing activity. If you find something that works, stick to it and enjoy it. Even if it might appear mundane, it might just be what you need. As long as you enjoy it and it works, what more can you ask.

Love to hear what you all do to destress.

Why do we still have lifestyle diseases?

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes now account for 90 per cent of deaths each year in the UK.

These so-called ‘lifestyle’ conditions are a well known problem in the west. Much less understood is that they now account for the majority (53 per cent) of deaths and disabilities in the developing world – taking 31 million lives a year.

NCDs are not driven by infections and viruses but by behaviours such as poor diet, smoking, moving too little, alcohol and drugs.

Although often referred to as lifestyle issues – implying personal choice – the rapid spread of NCDs around the world suggests they are a more universal problem, correlating strongly with economic development and urbanisation.

Globally, 70 per cent of deaths – some 40 million – are now attributed to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), with lower and middle income countries becoming increasingly impacted as there economies grow.

NCDs are killing more people earlier in developing counties than in the developed world – over 80 per cent of the 15 million NCD deaths that take place between age 30-69 are in low and middle income countries

This is having a more severe impact on people’s lives and national economies, and it’s during these years that people are meant to be at their most productive, earning a living – bringing money home to their families and contributing to economic growth.

In all regions of the world with the notable exception of Africa, more people are dying today from NCDs than from any other cause.

Although more people in Africa continue to die from infectious and viral conditions such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, deaths from chronic conditions are rising rapidly, up by 42 per cent since 2000 across the continent.

The World Health Organisation predicts NCDs will be the biggest killers in Africa by 2030.

The risk factors for chronic diseases include smoking, physical inactivity, high levels of alcohol consumption and obesity.

Although tobacco remains the leading cause of chronic conditions, smoking rates on the whole are falling – except in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.

Obesity rates have however, rocketed worldwide in the last four decades.

Johanna Ralston, chief executive of the World Obesity Federation, says that obesity is both a key risk factor for NCDs as well as a disease in itself.

“Obesity leads to cardiovascular problems and diabetes and even many cancers. It’s both an entry point for what progresses into other diseases and is a disease state itself,” she said. “Today obesity is recognised as a driver for NCDs in the way tobacco was around fifteen years ago”.

While rates of obesity have risen in every country of the world since 1975, the obesity epidemic has hit hardest in the Middle East and the Pacific nations where high levels of imported foods have contributed to expanding waistlines.

The Gulf’s rapid economic growth, leading to a change in diet, and hot climate, which discourages people from exercising outside, have also helped fuel the region’s obesity epidemic, says Ms Ralston.

Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt and Qatar are seeing levels of obesity comparable to the USA, with diabetes and other weight-related conditions becoming a major public health concern.

More surprising perhaps, obesity is also rising in countries that only a few decades ago were experiencing food shortages. In Ghana, for example, obesity has soared by over 600 per cent since 1975 and now affects one in 11 adults.

There is now a clear understanding of the relationship between NCDs and poverty in many places.

NCDs are a cause and consequence of poverty, and it’s often the poorest that are most vulnerable to NCDs and in many countries you are seeing NCDs impacting on lower socio-economic proportions of populations.”

Big tobacco, big food, big alcohol

While the causes of chronic diseases in low and middle income countries are complex, experts and campaigners are increasingly pointing the finger at big business and the so-called “commercial determinants of health”.

“It’s very clear that big tobacco, big food and big alcohol are seeing many lower and middle income countries as their emerging target markets,” said Ms Dain. She said that many tobacco companies in particular increasingly see Africa –which currently has a low level of female smokers – as a potential opportunity.

The spotlight has recently also fallen on the fast food and sugary drinks industries.

Last year a study on global obesity by Imperial College London and the WHO found a 10-fold increase of the condition among children which the study’s authors attributed to the impact of food marketing and food policies.

While fast food chains still continue to see growth in many traditional markets such as the US and the UK, the most spectacular growth is taking place in emerging economies.

Fast food spending grew more in the United Arab Emirates from 2010-2015 than in any other country. The country has also seen a rapid rise in non-communicable conditions.

Most foods we eat here have a high calorie content and high carbohydrate content. That’s the food that’s affordable and tastes good Dr. Abdul Razzak AlMadani, Dubai’s Al Borj Medical Centre
Abdul Razzak AlMadani, a consultant in medicine and endocrinology at Al Borj Medical Centre in Dubai and President of the Emirates Diabetes Society puts the rise down to among other things changing lifestyles and eating habits in the past few decades.

“It’s fast food, but not only fast food,” said Dr AlMadani. “Most foods we eat here have a high calorie content and high carbohydrate content. That’s the food that’s affordable and tastes good.”

Dr AlMadani believes that raising awareness of the risks of diabetes and hypertension among the population – particularly among parents who he says pass on unhealthy eating habits to their children – is one key way to bring down the incidence of these conditions.

Junk food taxes are working

Alongside awareness, a number of countries have also started to fight back against the marketing and consumption of unhealthy foods with tax on harmful foods and drinks.

This replicates the strategy developed countries have taken in tackling tobacco and alcohol consumption.

For Rebecca Perl, director of partnerships and initiatives at US-based non-governmental organisation, Vital Strategies, taxes can go a long way to reducing consumption of unhealthy food and drinks.

“Taxes are a win-win,” said Ms Perl. “They help people reduce use of unhealthy products but also bring money to governments to put health policies in place.”

Mexico, where more than 70 per cent of the population is overweight or obese, is already reaping benefits from such a levy. In 2014, the country introduced a tax of 1 peso (4 pence) per litre of sugary drink.

Although it is too early to say what impact this will have, early results are promising.

A study of the tax by researchers in Mexico and the United States found that sugary drinks purchases fell by an average of 7.6 per cent in the two years after the tax was introduced.

The UK is also set to introduce a sugary drinks tax in April.

So, Lifestyle diseases appear to be growing and present themselves in many ways. Whether it is a type of cancer, diabetes, cardiovasular disease or a combination of any of these, when are we as individuals going to start taking responsibility for our choices.

Also, if are in the position in a company which provides meals, lunches or snacks to your employees, when are you going to take responsibility for the health and wellness of your employees. If you are, well done to you.

Yes, in the end it is up to the individual to choose whether to consume the food or not, but at least if the better choices are provided it is more likely to occur.

Also, what measures are you taking to look after the activity and mental health of your employees?

As this blog is about NCD’s, as people are spending longer time at work, measures need to be made to look after your staff so you can reduce the chances of them gaining an NCD.

It will benefit you in the long run.

What makes you a leader

Leadership is about people, it has nothing to do with any title. Anyone disagree?

Being a leader is not easy. Every individual is different from the other and come from different background, and has different thought process. This is one reason why some people shy away from more senior positions which require more leadership. Leadership is a skill that can be learnt and like any skill, some people will initially be better at it than others.

So leadership is all about understanding people.

So-called leadership titles like, “CEO”, “VP”, “GM”, etc., only show their power over others.If you want to be a true leader, you must inspire your employees through your actions.

As John Quincy Adams said,

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

The world doesn’t need the bosses, it needs leaders who understand their jobs — and the job of a leader is to grow more leaders.There’s no blueprint to become a good leader, it’s a step-by-step process.

But here are some traits which can help you to become a good leader.

1. Be Your Own Leader

Everything starts with YOU. If you cannot lead yourself, then you can never lead anyone else. Self-leadership is the greatest challenge for anyone as a leader.

Spend quiet time with yourself to know yourself. Discover who you are, what you want to achieve, and how will you get it.

Learn from your experiences, develop self discipline and take action. Always stay connected with people and look for opportunities because this adds to our knowledge.

A successful leader doesn’t move without practical definite plans. They plan their work and work their plan.

“A self-leader looks around for problems, and then thinks deep to device solutions to them.” ― Israelmore Ayivor

2. Value Every Relationship

A true leader focuses on people, not power.
Don’t become a title-driven leader, be a relationship-driven leader.

You can’t lead people unless you value every relationship and understand them.

If you’re talking to your employee, no matter what’s his/her job profile (whether he’s janitor or a junior member), always remember that there is a person behind that job profile — they’re more than a tool and resource.

So always try to add some value in their life.

“Your words and deeds must match if you expect employees to trust in your leadership.” 
— Kevin Cruise

3. Say ‘Thank You’ to Your Employees
Two simple words have the power to motivate and inspire your employees and make them feel great — Thank You. Appreciation and gratitude go a long way to leadership success.

Your team helps you accomplish a goal, give the credit to them, and let them shine.
When you say thank you, it represents that you’re truly a grateful person. Your every employee makes a difference.

When employees feel valued and appreciated, they’re more likely to do great work for your company. Make it a habit to say thank you.

Remember, great leaders claim none of the honors.

Harvey Mackay said it best:

“A smart manager will establish a culture of gratitude. Expand the appreciative attitude to suppliers, vendors, delivery people, and of course, customers.”

4. Encourage People to Do Their Job
“Terry, you did a great job of dealing with client this morning. Keep up the good work.”

This simple line has a great power to encourage employees like Terry to do their best work.

It costs you nothing, but the results can be enormous.

Successful leader praises his team by telling them that they are doing great work.

Most of the people don’t work only for money, they do it because they believe that their work matters.

Share your vision and mission with them and ask for their inputs. Motivated people are excited about their job and perform well.

“As a leader, I am tough on myself and I raise the standard for everybody; however, I am very caring because I want people to excel at what they are doing so that they can aspire to be me in the future.” — Indra Nooyi
5. Always Be a Good Listener
Always listen what your team members want to say. What are their ideas and suggestions, even if you don’t like it.

Don’t just hear, but genuinely listen to them. The door to the office of the real leader is open to all who wish to enter. Employees want a leader who cares about them. Put yourself in their shoes.

Your listening skills determine the quality of your influence. A true leader is never too busy to connect and maintain a solid relationship with his team.

As Napoleon Hill said,

“People may follow the forced leadership temporarily, but they will not do so willingly.”

6. Be a Person of Values

“your job gives you authority, but your actions earns you respect.”
Leadership calls for respect.

Don’t become that leader who is not loyal to his associates.Lack of honesty, loyalty, and ethics are the major causes of failure in your personal and professional life.

Don’t just work on improving your success rate, you must work on improving your personality and value rate. It’s not the size of your office which makes you a great leader — your values and character does.

“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”
Take a minute and think about the values that matter most to you.

I would love to hear your thoughts and views on leadership and if there are any other steps you would like to add or replace.

How Massage Treatments Improve Mental Health

We are getting ever so close to Mental Health month and there are few better ways to acknowledge mental health month than being hands on(excuse the pun) and having a massage therapist come to your workplace. Even if each of your staff receive a 10 minute seated massage, it can make a world of difference to their day with regard to mood and productivity.

Massages have countless benefits.

Massaging your body can help fight diseases and reduce overall stress.

Massage is known to improve circulation among other great benefits.

A lot of people don’t know that massage treatments can improve mental health as well.

If you are working hard and under stress(as we all are, whether we realise it or not) it is a wonderful feeling of having a seated massage at work to unwind you and really lift your spirits for the rest of the day.

Read on to find out how and why it works.

1. Massages reduce anxiety and depression.
Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. Massages, particularly deep-tissue treatments, effectively reduce levels of cortisol in the body. They encourage the body to enter deep relaxation, improving circulation and enabling tension points to release.This can lower blood pressure and reduce heart rates.These physical effects can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, which can get worse with stress and accumulated tension.

2. Massages improve sleep and immune system support.
Massage treatments improve a body’s circulation. Good circulation is essential to a strong immune system. Reducing levels of stress hormones in the body is also a good way to prevent future illness or sickness.The deep physical and mental relaxation that massages induce are likely to improve sleep cycles. The body’s ability to relax is directly related to its ability to achieve healthy, deep sleep.

3. Released endorphins can have the same effect as meditation or exercise.
Endorphins are neurotransmitters that are associated with feelings of pain, intense joy, and physical pleasure.These are released during exercise and meditation. They are also released during massages. As the body relaxes during a treatment, it is more likely to produce endorphins. This can result in an elevated mood, greater happiness, and further relaxation.

4. Human touch is key to mental health.
Basic human touch can similarly release endorphins and feelings of contentment in the body. This is why it feels good to hug people we love or indicate affection through touch. Massage treatments involve direct touch therapy. This connection further serves to elevate mood and improve mental well-being.

5. Massages prevent long-term issues.
There are many different types of massages.

No matter what type you choose, your treatment is meant to address the smaller issues in order to prevent long-term ones.For example, getting a massage to focus on lower back pain is a great way to prevent further back trauma or injury. Treating massages and mental health, in the same way, has identical results. Using massage as a way to reduce anxiety will prevent future long-term mental health issues.

Other positive mental emotions you may experience after a massage include:
Clarity of mind
Increased energy
Decreased stress levels
Increased creativity
Increased rational thinking
Increased body awareness and general consciousness.
Blissful, mental state
A new sense of purpose
A great sense of personal satisfaction and achievement
Relaxed state
Wouldn’t it be great to have these feeling and emotions pumping throughout your body while you are at work, even if it only once in a while, at your workplace?

Conclusion

Massages reduce levels of cortisol in the body, releasing endorphins and boosting the immune system.
All of these positive physical effects are directly related to mental health. People are less likely to lose sleep, be anxious or depressed, or experience chronic pain if they are experiencing the positive physical effects of massage therapy.

I am not saying it is the be all and end all and will cure you all, but it can be, and should be used with other wellbeing activities.

However, don’t underestimate the value of being pampered during the day, at work, where you are maybe taking 20 minutes out of your day to feel great and re-energised.

Step away from the desk. Take a break for lunch.

Getting away from your desk at lunchtime seems to be an ever-increasing difficulty. I mean, who can take a break when there are so many deadlines, and it is just as easy to eat food while replying to emails?

Common ‘justifications’ for mindlessly swallowing food while working are:

“I’m too busy.”

“I need to finish a report.”

“I’ve got too much to do.”

“I’m so behind.”

“I have to have this ready for a meeting this afternoon.”

“My inbox is sooooooo full.”

Have you ever heard yourself say these statements? We all have.

Some interesting research that ING Direct found in regards to this topic was:

The typical Aussie lunch break is between 15-30 minutes.
28% of people habitually eat at their desk.
33% are skipping lunch entirely once or more a week.
10% work through their lunch break.
7% used their break for unrelated work activities such as personal admin, phone calls or shopping.
22% is unaccounted for in this survey.
Richard Denniss from The Australian Institute says company culture often contributes to employees spending lunch at their desk. “In many workplaces, being seen to be sitting at your desk has become an important indicator of your commitment to your job,” he says.

“But it’s quite clear that people working in that way are not at their most productive. They’re not at their most creative. They’re not at their most communicative. And in the long run, the best staff will leave. It’s a very short-term indicator of a productive workplace, to confuse not taking lunch with everything going well.”

So why is it important to take a lunch break?

Recharge your brain’s capacity – by giving your brain time to rest and recharge, your coping abilities will increase, as will your emotional intelligence, decision-making skills, memory and focus.

Improve physical health – by stepping away from work and nourishing your body, you will improve digestion, impact blood pressure, and improve sleep.

Stress management – it is impossible for anyone to work every minute of every day without eventually burning out. Taking breaks has a big impact on your ability to deal with work and life stress.
Increase afternoon energy levels – if you experience that 2-3pm energy slump then taking a lunch break can make a real difference to how you feel and how much work you get through during the afternoon.

Enjoyment – one in three people who were surveyed by The Australian Institute said lunch breaks made their day more enjoyable. When professionals enjoy their work it leads to a happier, more productive workplace.

Beyond Blue CEO Kate Carnell says, “it is time to reclaim the lunchbreak otherwise your physical and your mental health suffers, as does your productivity. Eating at your desk means you’re not getting the activity you need, you’re not getting up, you’re not getting circulation moving and it’s found that inactivity, sitting in one place for prolonged periods of time, is really not good for either your physical or your mental health.”

6 Ways To Make The Most of Your Lunch Break

Something is better than nothing – even if it can only be for 15mins. If you haven’t taken a proper lunch break for a while, start by taking one a week for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. Once you are comfortable with the fact that you are still staying on top of your work, then add a second one.

Natural light – getting outside into the natural light will have noticeable physical and mental benefits for you. Sunlight plays a part in releasing melatonin, which controls our daily day-night cycle (called our circadian rhythm). When this works well we have more energy in the day and can sleep better at night.

Set an alarm – put a recurring appointment in your calendar so this recharge time is scheduled and you don’t accidentally work though it.

Digital detox – leave your phone/iPad charging in the office so you can recharge your brain instead. Don’t use this precious time to catch up on your social media feed. Give your brain a break from all stimulation so you reap the rewards for the afternoon.

Make it social – find a friend or eat together as a group. By listening and learning and laughing with your colleagues in a casual environment encourages better working relationships.

Get out and Active – Get involved and sign up for a lunchtime activity/fitness group(yoga, bootcamp, running, fitness boxing) with your friends or colleagues. A Create a social sporting group or do it on your own. Either way, as long as you are out and active you will reap the benefits of increased productivity and concentration for the rest of the day.

Does online assessing do its job?

Hiring managers need to make sure online application assessments act as an effective resource to finding qualified candidates as opposed to a barrier that eliminates potential talent.

Most people have had the experience of taking an online assessment or test as part of a job application. No matter the industry and position, the format is often familiar. The applicant is asked questions covering everything under the sun about how they would rate their work performance and ability to work well with others, and then they are asked those same questions again in different ways. The answers are usually multiple choice and the assessments can take as long as 20 minutes to complete or sometimes, take several hours and days to finish for the most intensive online screening tests.

A great majority of companies use assessments as key parts of their application. They’re designed to be an unbiased way to narrow down the applicant pool to a more manageable number.

But hiring managers who work for companies that utilise these assessments need to ask themselves a few questions: Do you know what questions are asked on that test? Have you taken it? Can you pass it?

Many hiring managers and talent acquisition staff have never seen some of the questions they ask job candidates, and in many cases, they would be the first to fail these tests. The reality is that online tests and assessments have become an out of sight, out of mind tool for HR teams. Hiring managers know these tests exist as part of their company’s application process but that might be the extent of their knowledge.

In the job market of years past, companies could get by with this type of practice. Unemployment was high post-recession, and there were plenty of applicants to every position. Companies had the upper hand and could be choosy and select the best person available.

With unemployment staying relatively low in 2018, jobseekers and employees are beginning to wield the power. They can be selective where they choose to apply and whom they want to work with. Meanwhile employers are struggling to find talent.

Employers and hiring managers need to scrutinise things they didn’t have to scrutinise before. They may need to take a hard look at the online pre-screening assessment tests, which may be inadvertently costing the company highly skilled and talented future employees.

How to Stay on Top

Companies lose otherwise qualified candidates for a variety of reasons in the application process, but they frequently lose them at the assessment stage. Jobseekers exit out of the process if they view the test as too lengthy or time consuming. They also bail on a company if the assessment content is not perceived as relevant or if that content startles them.

Think of a forklift operator applying for that job who takes an assessment with nothing but sales related questions, even if the job description did not mention sales at all. Believe it or not, this type of thing happens all the time. This jobseeker thinks they may be applying to the wrong position and leaves the application. Or even worse, they think the company may not have their act together thus damaging the company’s brand in the process.

So how can hiring managers and companies capture the talent they may be losing because of candidate drop-off in the online assessment process? A good start is by following these three best practices:

Know what is on the test. Many talent acquisition personnel have no idea what content or questions are on their current online assessment. The best companies have assessments that their personnel are familiar with and that relate to key characteristics that successful workers should have at that company.

Do not have a test just to have a test. Involve hiring managers and talent acquisition personnel in the design of this tool to make it more effective. Every individual responsible for hiring at a company should know what is being asked of applicants.

Keep the length of your test under control. Are you getting enough qualified candidates? If a company’s online assessment takes too long to complete, they could lose many great people.

A hiring manager may say, “Well for our company, if that jobseeker doesn’t want to invest the time to complete this, then we don’t want them.” But the job market is changing. Employers have had the upper hand for quite some time, but the unemployment rate is low and forecasted to get even lower

There is going to come a time where companies are going to need those qualified jobseekers who do not want to spend half a day completing an online quiz. There is a happy medium, but employers need to be vigilant so that top talent doesn’t take flight over something this trivial.

Do you really care? Are you sure?. What do I mean by that? As an example, I work with jobseekers with disabilities with applications, interview preparation, and everything in between. When applying online, nearly all the online tests list either a 1-800 number or an email address that people with disabilities can reach out to if they need assistance or help with the application/assessment.

Shockingly, though, a large percentage of these 1-800 numbers are either non-functional or they lead to an impersonal, confusing answering machine. After all of these missteps, the final insult is that oftentimes those messages left by jobseekers with disabilities are either not monitored by anybody or they are never returned.

I challenge you to test your company’s 1-800 numbers and email addresses. Individuals with disabilities are the largest untapped labor pool in the United States. If they were to apply to your company, have an issue that required assistance and get an impersonal response, they might exit out of the application and choose a company that really cares.

Online application assessments are here to stay. They can be valuable and helpful tool for all parties if given the attention that they deserve. As a hiring manager though, it’s your job to make sure they act as an effective resource to finding qualified candidates as opposed to a barrier that eliminates potential talent.

12 eating tips for the busy professional

Busy professionals cannot waste a single second of their day. Our bodies need energy to keep moving at that pace. If you often work through lunch and go hours without even breaking for a snack, you may have difficulty concentrating and getting results from the work you’re putting in.

There are a few things you can do to keep yourself healthy while you’re powering through your day. Just a few simple changes can make a big difference in your energy levels, as well as your overall health.

1. Don’t skip breakfast.
As you’re running out the door for your early-morning meeting, the last thing you’re thinking about is stopping for breakfast. But breakfast skipping has been linked with an increase in obesity and diabetes risks, as well as morning moodiness. Here are a few quick, healthy breakfast ideas you can put together at home or once you arrive at the office.

2. Make it convenient.
You likely find you have little time to stop by the grocery store, especially during the workweek. Bring or have fresh food from local farmers directly to home or office. Create snack pouches on hand when you want a snack.

3. Prepare in advance.
One of the best things you can do is prepare snacks and meals for your day before you leave in the morning, especially if you’ll be working through lunch. But what if there is rarely time to put a meal together in the morning? You can solve this problem by setting time aside over the weekend to prepare snacks and meals for the week. Purchase plastic containers/tupperwares that can be refrigerated or frozen and picked up each morning on the way out the door.

4. Invest in grab-and-go snacks.
Look around your office. If there’s nothing to snack on, you may find yourself shrugging off your hunger for hours or—worse—heading down the hall to the vending machine. Purchase healthy snack-size foods like boxes of raisins or healthy granola bars. Blue Diamond 100-calorie Almond Packs are a great way to get the many health benefits of almonds without eating an entire bag.

5. Don’t eat and work.
Multitasking has been proven to be disastrous to the waistline. Instead of distractedly munching on a salad while you’re working on a proposal, set your work aside and focus completely on your meal. Better yet, take your lunch outside on a nice day and combine the benefits of fresh air with savouring your food. You’ll have a more pleasurable eating experience and return to your desk feeling refreshed.

6. Eat and meet.
While distracted eating may be bad, socialising has its health benefits. Schedule lunch meetings as often as possible to make sure you get a good midday meal in. You could use the opportunity to take team members offsite to get their ideas, meet with clients, or network with local colleagues.

7. Stay hydrated.
Whether you like the taste of it or not, water is an important part of good health. Consider having an in-office water cooler to make it easy for you and your team members to stay hydrated throughout the day. If this isn’t a possibility, keep a small refrigerator in your office to hold bottled water.

8. Choose healthy options at restaurants.
Eating out is inevitable for a busy professional, but you don’t have to settle for greasy fast food options. Almost all restaurant chains have healthy dining options to attract health-conscious customers. To play it safe, stick with grilled instead of fried and choose sides like fruits, soups, and salads over fries or onion rings.

9. Make family dinners a priority.
Evening meals are an important time for families. Make sure you’re home every evening in time to share a leisurely meal with your spouse or your family. If you’re single, schedule regular get-togethers with friends where you enjoy a healthy meal. This will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance.

10. Grocery shop wisely.
Experts recommend spending most of your time in the outer sections of the grocery store when shopping for food. Produce, dairy, meats, poultry, and eggs should make up the majority of your shopping time, keeping you away from the packaged, preservative-filled foods in the centre aisles.

11. Choose quality.
Make sure most of your diet includes nutrient-dense foods that let you accomplish more with less. Avoid sugar and empty calories and instead focus on making sure each snack and meal packs as much punch as possible. Remember, you’re going for fuelling your body and mind so you can accomplish more.

12. Limit alcohol.
As tempting as it can be to indulge in a happy hour drink after work, it’s one of the worst ways to add calories to your diet. While the occasional drink or two won’t hurt, it’s important to moderate your alcohol consumption, especially if the rest of your diet is severely lacking.

If you take care of your mind and body, you’ll find you’re more productive and have more energy throughout the day. You’ll also keep yourself healthy, which will allow you to avoid visits to the doctor and ongoing illnesses. When you take care of yourself, it is not just your health that benefits — your business will to.

Burned out, engaged or disengaged. Can you see the difference?

With the year ticking on, we do tend to get into that familiar cycle of working and dedicating ourselves to our jobs. Fair enough I say. It is after all a large part of our day and keeps us surviving.

But can we be doing this too much and becoming overzealous and not realising that our work is suffering from “the law of diminishing returns”? Where does the line for the engaged worker end and the burned out worker begin? Or where does the disengaged worker fit into all of this?

Engaged employees drive real business results. Engaged employees are energised, enthusiastic
and focused. They enjoy their work, help boost productivity, performance and growth.
Ultimately, engagement is good for people and for business.

AFTER ALL, COMPANIES WITH ENGAGED EMPLOYEES ARE:

78% MORE PROFITABLE
40% MORE PRODUCTIVE
5X LESS LIKELY TO HAVE A SAFETY INCIDENT
2.5X STOCK PRICE GROWTH THAT OF PEERS

Engagement isn’t reserved for specialty jobs with mind-blowing benefits and an
exceptional pay check. It’s totally possible to be engaged in any role, at any level. Anyone
can love what they do and be truly excited about their work.

But can there be too much of a good thing?

Definitely.

FOSTERING AN ENGAGED WORKFORCE

Engaged employees feel a deep connection and sense of purpose at work that creates extra
energy and commitment. It’s obvious why employers want to foster engagement, but it’s a
challenge to know exactly how to do this. After all, employee engagement is currently hovering
around 32 percent and has remained low for the past two decades.

THE MISSING LINK: WELL-BEING

Employee well-being drives engagement, and vice versa. When employees are engaged in their
work, they feel good and live with a sense of purpose.

Employees with higher well-being are twice as likely to be engaged in their jobs.
These employees enjoy their teams more, are more loyal and recommend their company as
a great place to work.

When employees have high well-being AND feel supported by their organisation, it’s a win for everyone.

WELL-BEING-ENGAGEMENT

Well-being and engagement are statistically related, but exactly why is unknown. Do people with higher well-being handle stress better? Or do they have a stronger sense of purpose at work?

AUTHENTICALLY SUPPORTING EMPLOYEES

The best way to foster employee engagement and well-being is to support employees. The best way to support employees is to focus on managers. Managers are the most important way employees feel supported by their organisation.

Most employees say their immediate managers matter more than C-suite leadership when it comes to well-being support. But often, managers don’t understand how to talk with their employees
about well-being.

And it’s not just about well-being. Managers play a big role in employee engagement. In fact, they account for up to 70 percent of variance in employee engagement. Employees who rate their manager as excellent are five times more engaged than employees who rate their manager as poor.

STRENGTHENING MANAGERS

Managers play a critical role in ensuring employees have a great experience. They’re not only responsible for the career path of the employee, they’re responsible for bringing the company values and culture to life.

Now that we know managers help foster employee engagement and well-being, the next step is to help managers understand how to do this.

A great place to start is with an understanding of the strongest drivers of engagement,
including:

• I like my work and have challenging
but achievable goals
• I give my work my all and have a
reasonable number of hours
• I’m realising my potential and
learning new things
• I’m able to use my greatest strengths
and my abilities fit well with my role
• I feel valued and respected
• I feel like I’m making an impact
• I work a reasonable number of hours
and spend my time wisely
• My manager and organisation support me

Managers who strive to create these conditions for their employees will be more likely to have employees with high well-being and who are truly engaged.

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?

With a great culture, a supportive manager and a job that provides meaning and purpose,
employees are more likely to feel engaged at work. This is when employees really thrive.
But it’s a fine line. Highly engaged employees are at risk for burnout because its not
possible to sustain high levels of engagement over time.
Burnout is a prolonged exposure to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on
the job.

It’s defined by:

INEFFICACY: I’m not making a difference
CYNICISM: I’m so fed up, I just don’t care anymore
EXHAUSTION:I’m so tired

Burnout results in low productivity and high turnover — especially turnover of the most
talented and productive employees.

BURNED OUT

In order to be burned out at work, an employee has to be highly engaged. The employee has to be all in and care deeply to get to the point of feeling burned out. This means that top
performing, highly engaged employees are at the highest risk for burnout. And these are the
employees that employers can’t afford to lose.

Burnout happens when a highly engaged employee begins to have low well-being without
any support from their manager or organisation or they aren’t able to resolve it for themselves.

Sadly, this is a result of the pressure and lack of support from the employer.

Most companies think of burnout as a personal issue because it shows up so differently for each person who is experiencing the cycle of exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy. The reality is that burnout is really an organisational issue.

HERE ARE THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF BURNOUT:
• Overload — workload and time
• Pressure
• Role conflict and ambiguity
• Lack of support from managers
• Lack of feedback
• Lack of participation in decision making
• Lack of fairness and equity
• Values disconnect
• A “broken” psychology contract

Burnout is associated with absenteeism, intention to leave the job and actual turnover. But for people who stay on the job, burnout leads to lower productivity and a negative impact on team members.

Often times, burnout is “contagious.” It can spread toxicity across a team or spillover into people’s home life.

PERSONAL:
• Lower productivity
• Stress-related health issues
• Increased substance abuse
• Can precipitate anxiety, depression and
decreases in self-esteem

ORGANISATIONAL:
• Reduced organisational commitment
• Absenteeism
• Intention to leave
• Actual turnover

BURNOUT VS DISENGAGEMENT

While both disengaged and burned out employees are at high risk for turnover, burnout is not the same as disengagement.

Disengaged employees don’t care about the work and the organisation. They’re not committed. They see work as just a job.

Prolonged burnout can result in an employee who is disengaged.

COMPARE THIS TO HOW SOMEONE FEELS WHEN THEY’RE ENGAGED.

BURNOUT
“I have cared so deeply for so long without a break from stress, that I have become depleted
and cynical.”

DISENGAGEMENT
“I have given everything to this job.”
“I am past the point of caring or I have never cared at all.”
“This is just a job.”

ENERGISED
“I am energiSed by and connected to this job, so much so that I get purpose from it.”
“This is way more than a job.”

TIPS FOR BATTLING BURNOUT

The good news is that burnout is preventable. With strong managers and an understanding of what causes burnout, employers can more readily prevent their top talent from burning out. Here are four ways to help prevent burnout today:

1. PROVIDE RECOVERY TIME
Everyone needs a break to recover. People rest their bodies after a workout but continue to push themselves to the limits at work. This is not only unproductive, it leads to burnout.

Managers should adjust workloads and be aware when someone has been going full throttle in overdrive for too long. That said, recovery time or breaks just help deal with the
symptoms of burnout but they don’t provide a real solution. Make sure managers focus on the root causes too.

2. FOSTER A WELL-BEING MINDSET
How people think about situations has an impact on their ability to handle and recover from them. What’s stressful to one person can be energising to another — it’s subjective. For some, stress is enhancing and exhilarating, while for others who have more negative association with stress, it’s debilitating. When you know how people think about stress, you can help them cope with it and prevent burnout. Have managers remind people to keep a positive outlook and ensure
employees are taking time to take care of themselves.

3. BUILD SOCIAL CONNECTIONS
People are wired to be social. The more we can rely on each other for support, the better off we are. In fact, social support positively relates to important factors that impact stress, health, well-being and engagement. Employers have the unique opportunity to foster community among employees by boosting team support and social networks. These social connections will
help employees get the support they need and help guard against burnout.

4. PURPOSE
Helping employees connect to their purpose is key for burnout prevention. When people have a real emotional connection to their work, they’re more connected to the company and their purpose. This helps put things into perspective when work gets hectic. One way to do this is to emphasise the ways in which an employee’s work makes other people’s lives a little bit better or easier. Communicate how an employee’s work is connected to the company’s mission and have clear goals to support employees in finding and staying connected to their purpose.

Choose your wellness program with for a reason.

Being in the health and wellness game for a few years now you see all sorts of programs in place and I wander often if they are really that effective and gaining the benefit of running that chosen program or product.

When looking at your health and wellness program, there should be a reason behind it: Mental, physical, social, educational, spiritual or a combination of one or more of those factors.

Maximum participation would also be ideal. There will be naysayers and wall flowers, but with enough thought and reasoning behind your choice of program, you will see everyone participating and enjoying the benefits. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees what their interests are. After all, it is also about them.

In recent years, the standing desk has become a trendy workplace accessory — one that seems to breed inexplicably overnight.

One day Phil from the IT help desk has one … and then suddenly, the entire office is hopping from foot to foot while chatting on the phone to a client.
But do they really improve our health, or make us more productive? Some studies indicate they do have benefits, but others are more sceptical.

In Australian workplaces, wellness initiatives are becoming a commonplace phenomenon.
And while standing desks, office yoga classes and gym memberships are all nice things to have on offer at work, the jury is still out on whether they actually make us healthier, or better at our jobs.

A growing body of research actually suggests that without a targeted and well thought out approach, workplace wellness initiatives often fail to yield results.
But conversely, ignoring employee health costs money too.

The cost of absenteeism in Australia is estimated at $7 billion each year, while presenteeism — defined as not fully functioning at work because of a medical condition — was recently estimated to cost the economy more than $34 billion a year.

Studies have shown that properly designed wellness programs can deliver significant benefits, with an average rate of return of between 2:1 and 5:1 for every dollar spent.
Encouragingly, a 2014 report by Buck Consultants found that about 47 per cent of companies in Australia offered some kind of health promotion service to employees — but only about half of those had measured, specific outcomes.

Occupational physician Niki Ellis said the Australian approach to workplace wellness programs was somewhat “immature”.

Prolonged periods of stress can make going to work seem like a nightmare. So whose responsibility is workplace stress?

“There is scope for improvement here in the way investment in this area is being made,” Professor Ellis said.

Professor Ellis said while usually well-intentioned, often wellness programs both here and abroad were not very strategic.

She used an example from Harvard Professor Gloria Sorenson, a leading authority on workplace wellness programs, to illustrate her point.

“It’s my favourite story about why wellness bits and pieces, just introduced into a workplace without integrating them carefully into an overall strategy for health, is probably not going to work,” she said.

“She was running quit smoking programs in the workplace and she started to deliver those in foundries.

“And she could see the irony of her very earnestly encouraging workers to quit smoking, when all around them were these toxic fumes and heat.”

The health benefits the workers might have received from quitting smoking were negated by the very environment they were working in.

“You can’t really expect workers to be anything other than a bit sceptical when you’re doing that in a hazardous working environment,” she said.

In the United States, where health insurance for staff is often paid for by employers, the push to identify workplace wellness initiatives that deliver results is more established than in Australia.

A 2015 report by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the best corporate wellness programs addressed both the individual risk factors affecting employees’ health, and the organisational factors that helped or hindered employees’ efforts to reduce those risks.

It found the strongest programs created a culture of health, intertwining individual health promotion efforts with the overall company goals and objectives.
The best programs were also created in consultation with staff.
Honest Tea, an organic drink company based in Bethesda, Maryland, was used as a case study in the report.

The company’s headquarters were deliberately placed next to biking and walking trails to encourage physical activity, and staff were given access to a wellness coach who gave advice on diet, weight management, and quitting smoking.
Initially the company also offered yoga and meditation classes at work, but participation was low.

By polling their staff, who were primarily quite young, the company found out that their employees wanted more intense activities. As a result, Honest Tea now offers boot camp workouts and rock climbing events, and participation exceeds 50 per cent.
For Honest Tea — a company founded on principles of health — these investments, among others, help maintain a corporate culture and keep employees healthy.

By all means I want to see all workplaces “fit for work” and have an ongoing health and wellness strategy in place. But I also want you all to reap the benefits from the program(s) as well.