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Aug . 2017

How To Be More Productive Through Wellness

  • by Julie Ferguson
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  • with 0 Comment
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  • in Fitness, Mental Health, Nutrition and Diet

Looking for tips on how to be more productive at work? A focus on wellness can boost your performance and help you to work smarter, not harder.

graphic illustrating how to get more done and how to be more productive

Most of us have heard the old adage about “working smarter, not harder” so many times throughout our work careers that it’s become a cliche, yet there’s a lot of truth to the saying, and never more so than when it comes to the relationship between health and productivity. When you don’t feel well or when you are sick, you just aren’t at maximum productivity – that’s fairly obvious. But what’s less obvious are the many ways that we can hijack or inhibit our productivity with less than optimal health habits: skipping meals, eating fast food on the fly, spending too much time sitting, or shortchanging sleep.

If you devote energy to improving your diet, upping your exercise routine and learning to manage your stress, you will reap many productivity benefits, both at work and in your personal life.

How can you be more productive? Here are a few tips to get you started:

Focus on the right diet.

Nutrients are the fuel that gives you energy, but for maximum benefit, it’s important to have a balanced diet designed to do just that. An imbalanced or poor diet can result in peaks and valleys in your energy levels, leading to fatigue, irritability, decreased mental concentration, and increased stress. Ron Friedman discusses how What You Eat Affects Your Productivity in Harvard Business Review. He talks about how a poor choice at lunch can derail you for the day:

Here’s a brief rundown of why this happens. Just about everything we eat is converted by our body into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. When we’re running low on glucose, we have a tough time staying focused and our attention drifts. This explains why it’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach.

So far, so obvious. Now here’s the part we rarely consider: Not all foods are processed by our bodies at the same rate. Some foods, like pasta, bread, cereal and soda, release their glucose quickly, leading to a burst of energy followed by a slump. Others, like high fat meals (think cheeseburgers and BLTs) provide more sustained energy, but require our digestive system to work harder, reducing oxygen levels in the brain and making us groggy.

Friedman goes on to offer tips for healthy eating. You can learn more about the science of healthy eating designed to bolster your energy through a bit of research, or you can contact a nutrition coach to help you customize the right diet for your lifestyle and goals.

Add more exercise to your daily routine.

The CDC advises a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise a day, but this is a case where more is better. Exercise can boost your energy, strengthen your heart and lungs, reduce your risk for life-limiting conditions like heart disease, diabetes, help control your weight and aid better sleep. It also has many mental health benefits, sucha s reducing stress and anxiety and elevating mood. Exercise releases endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals that can ease conditions like depression.

Exercise also has many “brain benefits” too. In another HBR article, Regular Exercise Is Part of Your Job, Friedman talks about how:

When we think about the value of exercise, we tend to focus on the physical benefits. Lower blood pressure, a healthier heart, a more attractive physique. But over the past decade, social scientists have quietly amassed compelling evidence suggesting that there is another, more immediate benefit of regular exercise: its impact on the way we think.

Studies indicate that our mental firepower is directly linked to our physical regimen. And nowhere are the implications more relevant than to our performance at work. Consider the following cognitive benefits, all of which you can expect as a result of incorporating regular exercise into your routine:

Improved concentration; Sharper memory; Faster learning; Prolonged mental stamina; Enhanced creativity; Lower stress

Friedman cites studies that link performance to exercise and offers tips for how to work more exercise into your daily routine. A wellness fitness coach can also help you to develop the right exercise regime to meet your personal goals and lifestyle.

In addition to many benefits for you, wellness programs can translate to many productivity benefits for employers, too:

  • Fewer sick days (absenteeism)
  • Fewer days at work while sick (presenteeism)
  • Less time recovering from illnesses or injuries
  • Reduced workers comp costs
  • Improved morale
  • Lower turnover


Aug . 2017

How To Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle in the Workplace

  • by Julie Ferguson
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  • with 0 Comment
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  • in Nutrition and Diet

Want to encourage a healthy lifestyle in your workplace? Be the change you want to see. Leadership is key. Here are wellness management tips to foster success.

school of fish with a lead fish as a metaphor to encourage a healthy lifestyle

If you want to encourage a healthy lifestyle in your organization, it takes building a culture of wellness. And we can’t overemphasize the importance of management commitment to wellness program success: without the active endorsement and involvement of senior leaders, any wellness initiative will produce mediocre results at best.

Imagine any other key goal or initiative your organization might have: Opening a new plant, introducing a new product, boosting sales by 5% … collectively, your organization would rally to meet the goal. Your vision would be shared and resources allocated; your leadership team would know the goal and would understand the roles and responsibilities associated with reaching the goal. Managers would convey the goal to their teams and rally/motivate team members to work to the goal. You would track progress to achieving the goal.

Working to encourage a healthy lifestyle among your employees and an organizational culture of health, safety and wellness is no different. The management leadership team should:

  • Provide the leadership, vision and inspiration. How does health, wellness & safety tie into to your organizational mission, and why it is important value for your organization
  • Include health, safety & wellness in the core value statement
  • Allocate the budget and resources to support the wellness program
  • Create conditions and policies that will foster success
  • Health, safety & wellness goals should be a written part of the annual goals and a part of any annual and organization-wide meetings
  • Metrics should be in place to track progress to goals
  • Progress should be reported in annual organizational performance statistics
  • Recognition and reward programs should be in place
  • Managers and supervisors should understand their roles and responsibilities, and be trained in any wellness benefits and programs
  • Model the behavior by walking the talk

Workplace policies that encourage healthy lifestyles, a supportive environment that provides opportunities to practice and reinforce healthy behaviors, a safe working environment free of workplace hazards, and a strong employee leadership network to manage the program. Creating and implementing these types of policies and environmental supports in the organization necessarily requires leadership from senior managers and strong cross-functional collaboration outside of the traditional structures for workplace health, safety, and wellness.”  Source: Model Wellness Guide, Massachusetts Department of Public

Supervisors and managers are the front line connection to the work force and should be champions, facilitors and leaders of the wellness program. They should be trained and given the tools for successfully helping their teams to achieve success.

  • Understand the benefit and become conversant in promoting it
  • Be thoroughly aware of available wellness resources, schedules, events and promos
  • Start meetings with brief health, wellness & safety themes
  • Build in/encourage short wellness breaks for standing, stretching, office walk-abouts, etc.
  • Participate in the program. Show up. Walk the talk.
  • Model healthy behaviors by holding walking meetings, sharing stress management tips, having healthy snacks at meetings
  • Talk it up. Watch for appropriate opportunities to make referrals to the wellness program

For more tips on how management can encourage a healthy lifestyle in your organization, see our tools & resources in our Wellness Program Insights series.

Aug . 2017

7 Reasons You Should Shop Local Farmers Markets During Growing Season

  • by Julie Ferguson
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  • with 0 Comment
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  • in Nutrition and Diet

Shopping at local farmers markets can offer a healthy nutrition boost to your diet while also supporting your local community. Plus, they are fun! There are few joys in summer greater than snacking on just-picked berries....Read More

Aug . 2017

Ramp Up Participation in Your Corporate Wellness Program

  • by Julie Ferguson
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  • with 0 Comment
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  • in program management, Tools

There are many reasons why corporate wellness programs fail to generate the employee engagement that employers hope for: the program may be poorly designed, incentives may be misaligned or sometimes, there simply isn’t enough buy-in....Read More

Jul . 2017

9 Reasons Why Employee Wellness Programs Fail

  • by Julie Ferguson
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  • with 0 Comment
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  • in Research

So you introduced a wellness benefit and are disappointed with the results. Maybe our coaches and counselors can help: we asked them to tell us why employee wellness programs fail. Here's what they said: 1. Insufficient....Read More

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