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Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace with Liz Earle

Thursday, 6 June 2019 10:01 AM | TALENT

Liz Earle talks Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace

This June we hosted Making Health and Wellbeing Work, a talk highlighting the importance of wellness in the workplace, in partnership with AXA PPP healthcare. The panelists offered practical advice on providing wellbeing at work and the benefits businesses would reap by doing so.

Here’s a round up of the top 5 things we learnt.

1.Look after your gut

“We've got the biggest nerve in our body the vagus nerve that links the brain to the stomach. Gut instinct is an extraordinarily important thing for business. I’ve ignored my gut instinct at times I shouldn’t have done. It's the reason why we have expressions like ‘butterflies in our tummy’ or ‘gut instinct’. Our gut can tell us things before our brain can process it.”

Business leaders need to be able to trust a 'gut instinct' and for that they need it to be healthy. Liz suggests adding fermented foods into your diet, such as kefir and sauerkraut.

2. Every team is different

Alex Malcolm, founder and MD of Jacada travel, spoke about how he meets the varying needs of his team.

Alex practices mindfulness and offers the same to his team. “When you take that time off you can make better decisions, listen better. You become more approachable." But, he understands meditation isn't for everyone. Jacada also offers their staff improvisation classes to help them switch off.

3. Purpose and culture

Creating a healthy workplace is about more than fruit bowls and running clubs. It’s important to share your vision and purpose with your team.

Liz Earle says that, “having a purpose driven business builds resilience. We’re facing huge times of change and we’ve never needed resilience more.”

This sentiment is shared with Eugene Farrell, Mental Health Lead at AXA PPP healthcare. “Trust, purpose and meaning are really important. They’re part of psychological wellbeing for work. We pass through so much of life without being in the moment. Organisations need to enjoy it together.”

Enjoying work together is an important part of the culture at Eat Natural as it’s co-founder Praveen Vijh told us. “The purpose is to grow the business but also develop our wellbeing. To build our personal growth. Our culture feels like coming home. It feels like family. We build communities within our workplace and with our customers. You have to live your truth. You have to live the culture you want at work. We have workshops and they’re not necessarily to be better at work, but better at life.”

So how do you install purpose? Dan Kirby, founder of TechDept and Get Ahead suggests that, “job description and organisation charts are the most important things for structure. Otherwise it’s like having a dead Christmas tree with nice baubles on it. You need to have the basics done right.”

4. Move more to manage stress

Leon Taylor, motivational mentor and Olympic medallist told us to move more.

“How do we deal with stress? Move more. Not necessarily exercise, but getting up and moving. I'm talking about when you are in the same position at work, such as hunched over a laptop or on a phone. There are emails coming in, people chasing us, our phones going off and we're becoming stressed as if we're about to be attacked. But we're not about to be attacked. So the way that stress builds up in the body is actually poisoning us. We need to disrupt stress.

Jan Vickery, head of MSK Services at AXA PPP healthcare agreed. "You need to get up from your desk. No one regrets going for a walk."

5. Lead from the top

Setting a good example for your team is a sure way to make sure they feel comfortable enough to practice what you preach. Monique Drummond, founder of Relish, told us, “I took a sabbatical. It was important I stepped back and that they saw I had. And the business was still there when I got back.”

She also advised that leaders keep an eye on their staff’s downtime. “Look at the holiday entitlement of your team. I have a lot of millenials on my team and they are often just taking long weekends for weddings and hen and stag dos. Make sure they’re taking two weeks off consistently so they can turn-off. We (also) give everyone on the team an early-in or late-off, twice a month. They can use it however they want for ‘me’ time.”

When it comes to mental health Dan Kirby says we need to be transparent with our team. “I’ve started saying to my staff, ‘ I’m taking a mental health day.’ Before I might say that I had a cold but really I just needed that day because I’m exhausted. Now I tell them the truth and allow them to do the same.”