Wellness

A New Approach to Corporate Wellness: Putting the Focus on the Team

May 5, 2023
Nitesh Padghan

In today's fast-paced work environment, corporate wellness programs often prioritize self-care to combat stress, burnout, and mental health issues. However, an emphasis on self-care might not be the ultimate solution for employee well-being. 

Instead, organizations should consider adopting a collective approach to wellness, fostering connections and support among team members.

Embracing the Collective Approach to Wellness

Moving beyond the individualistic mindset requires a paradigm shift in how we perceive and address workplace challenges. By reframing adversity as a shared experience, employees can strengthen their connections and work together to overcome obstacles. This approach allows team members to pool their resources, learn from one another, and develop novel strategies, creating a more resilient and supportive work environment.

One effective way to implement this mindset is by introducing "relational pauses" into the workplace. A relational pause is a temporary break from task work in which team members are invited to discuss how their work affects them personally. This exercise aims to facilitate genuine and authentic connections among employees, allowing them to support one another better and collectively navigate the challenges they face.

Uncovering the Power of "Struggling Well" as a Team

When adversity is framed as a collective experience, employees can relate to one another more effectively, leading to increased compassion and empathy. Sharing personal experiences allows team members to see each other in a more nuanced light, revealing both strengths and weaknesses. This openness fosters an environment where individuals can grow, learn, and lean on one another during challenging times.

Discussing emotions helps disperse overwhelming feelings and enables employees to make sense of their experiences. As teams practice relational pauses, they become more aware of their own dynamics and can make deliberate choices about how they interact with one another. This self-awareness and intentionality can lead to a more cohesive, empathetic, and supportive team environment.

Practical Ways to Incorporate Relational Pauses into the Workplace

Here are some suggestions on how to integrate relational pauses into your organization:

  • Make it a regular part of team meetings: Encourage team members to share their thoughts and feelings during status meetings. This will help normalize the practice and create a supportive atmosphere where employees feel comfortable opening up.
  • Respond to escalating emotions: If tensions rise during a meeting or project, take a moment to pause and focus on the emotional dynamics at play. Encourage team members to share their feelings and listen empathetically to one another.
  • Develop loss rituals: In situations where employees face significant setbacks or losses, create rituals that enable emotions to be acknowledged and processed. Sharing experiences and emotions helps build resilience and fosters a sense of shared purpose.
  • Incorporate relational pauses into existing wellness initiatives: Use existing wellness programs as a platform for introducing relational pauses. Focusing on work's emotional realities can make these initiatives more meaningful and impactful.

Case Studies: Successful Implementation of Relational Pauses

1. Redemptive Design Associates

Redemptive Design Associates, a design consultancy specializing in repurposing office spaces, has successfully integrated relational pauses into their workflow. 

After failed pitches, the team takes a moment to discuss their emotions and experiences, allowing them to process their frustrations, sadness, and hopefulness together, and fostering a supportive and understanding environment.

2. Palliative Care Unit

A palliative care unit in a large hospital has implemented a routine for discussing feelings after a patient's passing. By sharing their emotions, the staff members can better cope with their grief and support one another during difficult times.

3. Pacific Life Re's "Tea & Talk" Meetings

The London office of Pacific Life Re holds informal "Tea & Talk" meetings, where employees come together to discuss topics of shared concern. These gatherings, hosted by a wellness champion, have no fixed agenda, encouraging participants to share their thoughts and feelings in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.

Embracing Emotions at Work

It's not uncommon for managers to hesitate when it comes to discussing emotions at work. However, smart leaders understand that embracing emotional openness can lead to improved communication, resilience, and teamwork. Encouraging employees to discuss and collectively work through challenges creates a supportive environment where everyone can thrive.

By fostering a culture of open communication, employees can build stronger connections with their colleagues and better understand each other's perspectives. This promotes a sense of shared purpose, improving collaboration and helping the team navigate adversity together.

Closing Thoughts

As organizations continue to evolve, it is crucial to reevaluate our approach to corporate wellness. We can create a more supportive and resilient work environment by shifting the focus from self-care to collective well-being.

Fostering genuine connections among employees should be at the heart of modern corporate wellness initiatives. By embracing relational pauses and collective well-being, organizations can empower their employees to thrive together, leading to a more resilient, empathetic, and supportive work culture.

Productivity

The Surprising Power of Aiming a Little Lower at Work

September 1, 2023
Nitesh Padghan

In today's fast-paced corporate world, the spotlight often shines on one metric: productivity. We're often lauded for our capacity to churn out work, with the mythical 100% productivity level dangling in front of us like a golden carrot. 

But let's pause and rethink. What if, in this relentless quest for absolute perfection, we're missing the mark? What if the real secret to a productive and balanced work-life isn't in pushing ourselves to the absolute brink, but in aiming for a more sustainable 85%? 

This might sound counterintuitive in a world obsessed with maxing out potential, but diving deeper, we might just find that this 85% approach is the missing piece in our modern work puzzle.

The Trap of 100% Productivity

The allure of 100% productivity is strong. We're conditioned to believe that it’s the gold standard of efficiency. Yet, diving deep, we find it's more of a trap.

Employees pushing relentlessly for this elusive 100% often find themselves on the brink of exhaustion. Imagine running a marathon at sprint speed - unsustainable and unhealthy. The cost? Burnouts, decreased mental well-being, and ironically, a dip in true productivity.

Take Sarah, a graphic designer at a top-tier firm. Chasing perfection, she worked late nights, skipped meals, and even sacrificed weekends. But her relentless chase led to chronic fatigue and, eventually, a two-month medical leave.

The Sweet Spot

Enter the game-changing perspective of business author Greg McKeown. He suggests 85% as the sweet spot of productivity. It’s not about doing less but doing sustainably.

At 85%, employees can maintain consistency, quality, and enthusiasm without burning the candle at both ends. It encourages a culture where work is essential, but so is well-being. It’s about giving your best, most days, without the overwhelming pressure of perfection.

The Science Behind 85%

When we talk about productivity, it's often cloaked in terms of output and deadlines. But there's a whole layer of science, both psychological and physiological, that underpins our capacity to work effectively. Let's dissect this.

The Physiology

Firstly, let's address the body. Steve Magness, an exercise physiologist, sheds light on the concept of "overtraining" in athletes. Just as athletes can't constantly push their bodies to the max without risking injury, employees can't constantly push their minds to the brink without detrimental effects. 

Our brains, like muscles, require periods of rest to recover and regenerate. When we consistently operate at 100%, we're essentially in a state of chronic "mental overtraining", which can lead to burnout, decreased cognitive function, and even mental health issues.

The Psychological Perspective

Now, on to the psychology of it. Aiming for 100% productivity can inadvertently set us up for a binary perspective: perfection or failure. This doesn't leave room for the gray areas of learning, growth, and innovation, which often happen when we're allowed to make mistakes and iterate. 

Psychologists have long championed the importance of a growth mindset, where challenges are seen as opportunities to learn rather than as threats. By setting a productivity goal of 85%, we mentally allow ourselves that buffer to experiment, fail, learn, and ultimately grow.

The Neuroscience Angle

Lastly, neuroscience offers another perspective. Our brain operates in cycles, with periods of high alertness followed by periods of rest. These are called ultradian rhythms. 

Typically, after 90 minutes of intensive work, our brain signals a need for a 20-minute break. Pushing beyond this natural cycle by aiming for constant 100% productivity can lead to diminishing returns in focus and output.

How to Implement the 85% Rule in Your Workplace

Incorporating the 85% rule into your workplace isn't just about changing a number on a performance sheet. It's about embracing a new philosophy of work, one that values sustainability, well-being, and holistic growth. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make this shift:

1. Begin with Awareness

Before diving into changes, initiate a dialogue. Host workshops or seminars that shed light on the science and philosophy behind the 85% rule. Employees are more likely to embrace a change when they understand its rationale and potential benefits.

2. Set Realistic, Compassionate Goals

Rethink target setting. While it's essential to maintain ambition, ensure that your goals are both challenging and achievable. Instead of pushing teams to their limits every single time, offer them a spectrum of targets that prioritize quality over sheer quantity.

3. Foster a Culture of Well-being

Move away from the "all work and no play" mindset. Introduce wellness programs that cater to both physical and mental health. This could range from meditation sessions, and ergonomic workshops, to even short breaks for relaxation. Remember, a well-rested employee is a more productive one.

4. Promote Open Communication

Create safe spaces for employees to voice their concerns, share their experiences, and offer feedback. Whether through regular check-ins, town hall meetings, or anonymous feedback systems, ensure that there's a two-way communication channel.

5. Rethink Assessment Metrics

Shift the focus from purely quantitative outputs to more qualitative ones. This might mean valuing creativity, innovation, teamwork, and problem-solving skills as much as, if not more than, sheer output.

In a world that often glorifies the hustle, the 85% rule offers a refreshing, sustainable, and, ironically, more productive alternative. Implementing it requires intention, effort, and a genuine commitment to the well-being of your team. But the rewards, both in terms of output and employee happiness, make it well worth the effort.

Conclusion

The quest for 100% productivity is a mirage. It promises an oasis but often leads to a desert of burnout and dissatisfaction. On the other hand, 85% is not just a number but a philosophy - one that champions sustainable effort, well-being, and a holistic approach to work.

Companies and employees alike stand to benefit immensely. It's high time we redefine success, not by the relentless grind but by the balanced, joyful, and sustainable journey. So, here's a challenge: Aim for 85% and watch both happiness and productivity soar.

Emotional Wellness

The Mindful Journey: Exploring the Art of Meditation

November 4, 2022
The Wellness Tribe Team

You are here means you are ready to embark on this journey. The best way of experiencing meditation is actually to do it, not just talk about it. Meditation isn't always easy; some days, it's going to feel easy, while others might feel hard. But, no matter how uncomfortable it feels, you just need to stay with it every time. 

Your emotional wellbeing and overall health can benefit from meditation. It can bring you calm, peace, and balance. As a relaxation tool, you can refocus your attention on something calming when you're stressed. Mediation can also help you stay centred and find inner peace. Meditation might help you find the perfect work life balance if you work continuously. 

The most important thing is that you set yourself up in a place where you will be comfortable. You can either lie down or sit up. You definitely don't have to be sitting cross-legged on the floor. 

Let's Begin

The Mindful Journey: Exploring the Art of Meditation
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

We're going to open our eyes and keep their gaze soft, just aware of the space around us. Now that you have your eyes softly focused, take a few deep breaths through your nose and out through your mouth. As you breathe in, notice how the lungs fill with air, and the body expands.

As you exhale, notice that your body softens. Inhale through your nose one more time. And this time, as you breathe out through the mouth, if you'd like to, just gently close the eyes. Let's just enjoy and appreciate the feeling that we've stopped and have nothing to do, nowhere to go.

Take a Moment to Feel Changes in Your Body

Notice the feeling of weight—the weight of the body pressing down against the seat or the floor beneath you. And take a moment as well just to notice your surroundings without looking around, just noticing the different sounds, not trying to shut them out. 

And use this opportunity as well just to notice how the body feels. We rarely pay attention to how our bodies feel. So is there a feeling of heaviness or lightness in the body? Is there a feeling of restlessness?

And as you bring your attention to the body, just starting to become more aware of that feeling, that movement of breath in the body. So, therefore, there is no need to breathe in any particular way.

Just allow the body to do its own thing. Some people feel the movement of breath in their chest, their shoulders. For some, it's in the diaphragm, and for some, it's in the stomach. Put your hand gently on your belly to feel that rising and falling sensation. Because you can't feel anything, you can't feel any movement.

"Meditation is not a way of making your mind peaceful. It is a way of seeing the peace that is already there." - Vimala Thakar

Put an End to Your Wanderings

The Mindful Journey: Exploring the Art of Meditation
Photo by Jens Johnsson

Again, thoughts are going to pop into your mind. The mind's going to wander. Just notice when the mind's wandered off, and just gently come back to the breath. To begin with, we're just noticing the breath in a very general way and perhaps starting to notice whether the breaths are long or short, deep or shallow. And we might find ourselves thinking either about the exercise or other things, just realising when that's happened, let those thoughts go, and come back to the breath again.

The body knows how to breathe—not getting involved in any thinking, just allowing the thoughts to come and go. If you notice your mind has wandered and you want to bring it back to the breath, gently bring it back.

So we'll stay with that feeling, a rising and falling sensation, for a few moments longer. And then, just for a moment now, let go of any focus, even of the breath now, and for a few seconds, let your mind wander.

Put Your Mind at Ease

The Mindful Journey: Exploring the Art of Meditation
Photo by Cup of  Couple

So your mind’s been wanting to think, you can let it think now. Just allow it to do whatever it wants to do. And now, just gently bring the attention back to the body. Just coming back now to that feeling of weight, that feeling of contact against the seat or the floor beneath you.

Perhaps noticing the sounds around you again. And whenever you feel ready, you can just gently open your eyes again. But before you move, just take a moment to notice how you feel in your mind body soul. The more often we do this after meditation, the more we're reminded of how much we need to pause in our life to take this time out for ourselves.

One Final Piece of Advice

If you can resist any temptation to analyse what's happened, the benefits, or anything else, just know that taking the time it's making a difference. But remember, before you get up, just remind yourself to take this satisfaction and sense of well-being with you into your life.

It is important to take time out, be still, and be silent to live a happy healthy life. And there are real benefits to that, but what really makes meditation valuable is how it influences our everyday life, relationships, and experiences.

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This month we are focusing on food and how it affects your mental health. Join us as we bring in the most relevant interesting content from across the wellness segment.

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