Just the other day I was at a large technology organization meeting with their HR managers trying to uncover the secrets of their success and their reputation as one of the top IT service providers by companies and at the same time, one of the most sought after places to work amongst top notch professionals. It was very evident from just being there that their employees were happy working there. There was a sense of positive energy among the team and it was reflecting in their efficiency figures and how their customers were happy to pay a premium over other vendors simply because their workforce was so productive.
What struck a chord was when they said “health is an investment you need to make both as professional that wants to be better and as a company that wants a happy and productive team”. Here are some of the tips gathered from their personal experiences -
Stress is a working professionals worst enemy. What a number of company’s don’t realize is that as a result of this, it’s also the biggest deterrent to employee productivity and efficiency at the workplace. It needs a very high level of consciousness to realize the kind of decisions and workplace policies that could just end up stressing employees. It needs a company to look deeper than what’s just on the surface to really end up with happy / productive employees. For example, this technology company often has to transfer it’s employees to work closer to customer locations. They learnt if one of their employees has a girlfriend or boyfriend they are leaving behind as a result of the transfer, they’re never going to be 100% on the job no matter how good they are because part of them doesn’t want to be there. Independent studies have shown that workplaces where there is constant monitoring and regulations on what people are doing at the work place also leads to stress and significant drop in productivity. Trust, understanding and ensuring employees are stress-free is the best way to get the most out of them.
This is something that needs to be done on an individual and while a company can invest in a gym, facilities or enablers for exercise, it’s really up to the individual to adhere to it. This particular company encourages their employees to exercise, run or workout before coming into the office and noticed that they feel rejuvenated, full of energy and focused once they start their day at the workplace. It’s made a tremendous impact on their atmosphere and efficiency at work. Understanding that in the technology field, there is always stressful work , they’ve also invested in having a yoga teacher come in and do bi weekly sessions within the office to help everyone re focus and equip them to deal with stress and let it go.
Smoking has many implications for employees as well as the organization. While you could look at it as a way to distress and relax so you feel more efficient, it actually reduces your energy level not to mention the time lost during all those breaks, the distraction and long term health effects. This particular company didn’t ban smoking but have a policy against smoking within the office. That means if someone needs to smoke, they have to leave the office, go several floors down and leave the building to do so. This has actually worked to discourage the number of times employees end up smoking.
The organization is careful when it comes to spending on unnecessary things especially with the economic situation being quite tight in recent times. However they are still willing to spend more on things like ergonomic chairs, low refresh rate lcd screens for computers and a layout that minimizes noise within the workplace allowing everyone to do their thing. Their logic is sound! Someone who suffers from a bad back or tired eyes is not going to be productive. It’s better to invest more in things that ensure employees health and create a good environment for them to work in so that they can do their best.
Somehow a lot of the corporate world has been conditioned to believe that 16 hour work days, burning the midnight oil, working overtime makes you ‘the ultimate professional’. It’s cool to be seen in the office when everyone else has gone home for the day and it shows loyalty and dedication. Reality is, no one is super human and can realistically put in those kind of hours at the same efficiency without burning out or pretending to be working more just by being at the work place longer. Everyone needs their batteries recharged, needs sleep and needs time to themselves to be spend on things other than work. It’s only when you’ve found that balance that you’re going to be really productive and give the right amount of focus to everything you do.
At the end of our discussion it was clear: as a professional striving to do what you do … better or as an organization that wants the best from it’s employees…you need to invest in health. Look after your body and mind. It will impact everything else you do.
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