Well-being seems to be a bit of a buzzword for HR departments at the moment.
There will be those who see this as just another trend, another tick-box on employee surveys. You may be among them, perhaps seeing well-being as little more than a luxury, a 'nice-to-have' but not an essential component to the success or failure of your business.
But is it rather more than this?
How important is it to take care of yourself and your colleagues at work? If the altruistic argument isn’t enough to make the issue of well-being receive top billing, then what about the impact it has on client service, and therefore the success or failure of your business?
If the well-being of your clients is so important, then it seems hypocritical not to start at home. By that I mean not only working on the well-being of the people you work with, but also your own.
Starting at home
Everyone has the right to feel absolutely brilliant at work every day: happy, healthy, confident, supported, challenged and inspired.
It’s hard to imagine anyone would willingly reject these things. It’s even harder to argue against the positive effects of a working environment where they flourish.
Not only is a little self-love ok, it’s essential. If more people feel like this for more of the time, then the impact on their performance both individually and collectively, internally and externally, is massive.
To have a team of individuals that functions at its best is clearly a desirable outcome. The ability to feel happy, confident and the other factors outlined above make up your well-being at work, and are an enormous contributing factor to this outcome. Let’s start small with you and your own well-being.
As an adviser, your clients’ interests are at the heart of what you do. If you truly mean this, and it’s not just a nice soundbite, then you have a duty to ensure you’re functioning at your very best.
If not, then you won’t be offering the best advice and support that you can. You won’t be as invested and present with each of your client relationships.
This is irresponsible, and you can bet your clients will pick up on it. They’ll pick up on your fatigue or exhaustion. They’ll pick up on that absent-mindedness, complacency or lack of inspiration, even if only subconsciously.
People connect emotionally before they do intellectually. The fine margins matter. To quote the late Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you did, people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
You might be saying all the right words but if your body language and tone don’t back up those words, or if they give away the demeanour of someone not fully invested, then the words won’t ring true. According to prominent psychologist Dr Albert Mehrabian, when your words, body language and tone aren't aligned, then people pay far more attention to the body language (55 per cent) and the tone (38 per cent).
It’s hard to fake it, and if you’re not taking care of yourself then it will leak out. This might not happen in the words you say, but it will in how you say them.
The last thing you want is for clients to be thinking you don’t care. Don’t underestimate the impression created by not taking care of yourself. It won’t instil much confidence in your fitness for the job of taking care of them and their loved ones.
We haven’t even touched on the negative impact that a lack of concern for your well-being could have on your attention to detail, clarity of thought and decision making - all critical components to your performance as an adviser. Yes, the message is obvious, but it's also easily neglected.
It would be a shame to fall behind your competitors just because you’re not taking care of yourself. Well-being is set to be top of the agenda for HR teams by 2020. Get ahead of the game and start with yourself.
It could be argued the separation between work and play, between business and pleasure, has become rather outdated. The marginalisation of well-being in the workplace as an issue will no longer cut it. Everything matters.
It’s naïve to think mental and physical well-being has no impact on performance at work.
Elite athletes can no longer get away with eating and drinking what they want, and relying on talent alone to continue performing at the top level. The approach to peak performance is more all-encompassing and wholesome with strict diets, curfews, new training methods and an exploration of every aspect of their life.
Again, it all matters. It all affects performance. Otherwise, no money would be spent on it.
Now, I’m not advocating a complete overhaul of your lifestyle choices. Far be it from my remit to point the finger, make dietary suggestions and design fitness regimes for you.
You might be really good to yourself and score extremely highly on the well-being front. That’s great. What I’m advocating is a wider acknowledgement and celebration of its impact on your performance and ultimately the outcomes that you achieve for clients. It’s a no brainer.
Here are three really simple tweaks you could make on a day-to-day basis that will have an immediate impact on your well-being and performance:
1. Open up Take some time to explore the possible impact your daily environment has on your mindset, motivation, confidence and mood. Smaller, closed-off spaces massively increase the stress hormone cortisol and reduce testosterone. Think about how you can find more opportunities to be open and expansive.
Are you often sat at a desk, hunched over a screen? Do you spend a lot of time messaging from your phone? All of these bring you into a smaller, less expansive space. Expanding and opening up will affect the way that you feel and, therefore, your performance.
2. Breathe deeper We often don’t get enough oxygen around the body, which is called shallow breathing. There are quick exercises you can do that get you breathing more deeply and get more oxygen flowing around the body, giving you more energy and focus. It’s science.
Try the spine roll exercise, which helps you achieve a nice, natural, open state of alignment, drops the breath, and releases tension in the body.
Exhaling on ‘ffffffff’, roll down through the spine head first, vertebra by vertebra, breathing when you need to. When you inhale, think of breathing into the back space. When flopped over, feel the expansion of your back as you inhale through the nose. Each time you exhale, release a bit more. Allow your neck and shoulders to hang free. Then roll up, vertebra by vertebra, the head being the last thing to rise.
3. Work Less Actually, it’s not about working less. It's about working fewer, more efficient hours.
(i) Whenever possible, set aside 45-60 minutes for lunch, away from your desk, away from any screen and out of the office. Use that time to be present, recharging and not working.
(ii) Whenever possible, leave earlier.
These are tiny and really easily applied tweaks. It’s about approaching the day with purpose, preparing right and keeping yourself in good condition.
It’s not self-indulgent - it’s about respecting the job that you do. Not only will you feel much better but your business will reap the benefits.
In the words of Jerry Springer: “Take care of yourself... and each other.” Your clients will thank you for it.