Safety at work and keeping well are both recognised as important issues to reduce the risk of injury and illness, as these are the expensive human costs of business.
The modern workplace is not well. The modern malaise of lack of engagement, low morale, high staff turnover, and the high costs of absenteeism and presenteeism remind us that people are sick and tired of the uncertainty around job tenure, budget cuts requiring them to do more with less, and relentless change.
That’s why running wellness sessions about the benefit of exercise, providing access to yoga classes and discounts to gym membership while very nice, doesn’t achieve much beyond being able to tick a few boxes to say those subjects were covered.
Meaningful workplace wellness requires a holistic approach starting with better brain health. Elevating brain awareness about the why we think and behave the way we do builds a strong foundation to create a fit and healthy brain that is then optimised to perform at it’s best, even when under pressure.
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The need for greater efficiency, effectiveness and collaboration requires a brain safe environment; a workplace culture that supports, nurtures and genuinely cares about people, because business is all about people.
There are three components to better brain health
1. Grant yourself permission to be human
It’s easy to get sucked into thinking we can operate like machines, churning through our work day after day. We’re not machines and because we are human we have basic physiological requirements such as remembering to refuel, exercise and get enough quality sleep. Our brain’s primary function is to keep us safe, so knowing how to regulate our emotions and have the necessary skill sets to resist stress is a must, not a maybe.
Understanding that your brain is plastic provides you a massive cognitive advantage. You can train your brain to change your mind, through your choice of focus. How brilliant is that?
2. Operate using your brain the way it was designed for
In our haste to adapt fast to our rapidly changing world we have adopted new ways of doing. Some of these workplace practices are counterproductive because they require us to use our brain in a way it was not designed for, including working too hard for too long without giving your brain a break, multi-tasking (which is so last-century), and failing to take time out to think, create and innovate.
3. Amplify your results by working well with others
We are hard-wired to be social. Recognising what causes us social pain and knowing how to minimise it is what drives our motivation to contribute, build confidence and competence. Getting on with people is about developing a growth-oriented mindset, calling out people for doing their job well, building trust, experiencing a sense of progress and rediscovering meaning in our work.
We spend around one-third of our lives at work. It’s no coincidence that the happiest workplaces are also the most productive and enjoy the highest level of performance.
A workplace wellness program based on better brain health is a program that keeps all brains safe and working to their best.
This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.