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What Army Basic Training Taught Me About Employee Health & Engagement

What does army basic training have to do with employee health?

At the young age of 20 not having much direction in my life I signed up for the British Military. I served for five years and toured Afghanistan twice before travelling the world with a backpack.

Of all the different things I experienced throughout my time in the military, one thing that has stuck with me the most was the first 12 weeks of what is called basic training. In my opinion this is so important, so vital to success that it has helped form the basis of our entire signature solution for increasing business revenue by creating a thriving team.

The army is filled up with different regiments, trades and specialities. For example, I was an intelligence analyst and physical training instructors. There are also infantry, engineers, logistics, artillery the list goes on. But regardless of the speciality you go into, each and every person that joined is first and foremost a soldier and therefore goes through the same minimum 12 weeks of ‘basic training’.

The basic training phase is what most people imagine the whole of the military to be. Extremely regimented, limited freedoms, being shouted out, being tested and being pushed. At this point it is worth highlighting that I’m not suggesting businesses should implement this into their on boarding process…

But there is deep purpose to this part of a soldiers training. Here all soldiers, regardless of trade learn the essential basics of being a soldier. Fitness, Team Work, Basic Hygiene, Weapons Handling, How to Shoot, Field Skills, Communication, How to Iron Clothes, How to Polish Boots, How to Make a Bed, How to March, How to Swim. It’s throughout this point that soldiers also learn and recite the core values of the British military of which, along with my military number I can still recite to this day over 10 years later.

British Army Core Value Acronym - CDRILS

The army is a large organisation with a very serious role. If soldiers are unable to, systematically without much thought at any time drop everything they are doing and defend themselves then they put themselves and those around them at serious risk. It doesn’t matter if you are an army vet, intelligence analyst or medic, when you are sent to a volatile place at any given time there is fairly substantial chance you will have to fight, work as a team and cover some serious ground.

By having a deep understanding of the core values of being a soldier, you know how to act in all manner of different situations without having to think twice. Core values are an essential but often missing part in any organisation and persons life… something that is at the very start of our signature solution.

So what does this have to do with businesses and teams? You might think "Steve from accounts doesn’t need to have the same basic training as Jane from HR because their roles are so clearly different…"

But here’s the thing, we are all humans. And, at the basic level, all humans have the same basic requirements that enable them to be their best, to be healthy and to be happy. For most of human history life has required that we be healthy and relatively happy in order to survive.

We have only had access to natural food, we have had to be physically active, we have had to work as teams towards very meaningful goals such as survival. When working towards survival we naturally fall into roles that are suited to our strengths as a result we feel good and we are appreciated by others.

Fast forward to our modern lives and things have changed quite a bit. For most of us fortunate to live in wealthy cultures we don’t have to often worry too much about survival. We have more freedom and opportunity than ever before in human history, which is wonderful. Yet with all this opportunity we find ourselves with the worst levels preventable physical and mental sickness ever witnessed in human history.


Because life no longer requires us to be healthy as a natural process. Being physically and mentally healthy is now something we must consciously choose to make happen, something we must design. We haven’t evolved to consciously balance the different aspects of our lives to create optimal physical and mental health. Humans aren’t good at thinking about 100 different things or constantly make decisions and we struggle to constantly learn new things, especially if we’re not interested in them.

Imagine if all soldiers skipped basic training and just learned their trade. It would be a disaster waiting to happen. Thousands of soldiers trained in their individual trades but not being trained in the basics of being a soldier. Well this is what is happening in modern life. We're all educated and skilled.. but nobody (not even the schools) are training us in the basics, and the disaster is already happening all around us... It's why only 1 in 12 employees in the UK are highly engaged in their job. It's why we have the highest rates of preventable death in human history.

My point is this. Most of us don’t have basic training in how to be healthy and happy. Even though it’s really quite simple, we’re so busy with everything else that we don’t know how to go about it. When we decide we do want to improve aspects of our health, or implement an initiative to improve the engagement of our workforce, we use the vast majority of the mental energy we have for this just searching though the ocean of different disjointed ‘solutions’. There’s so much choice and misinformation that more often than not we either make no change at all or choose something we know just isn’t right.

So that’s why we created the better happy signature solution for employers, the motivated employee roadmap. It’s basic training in how to thrive in life. It’s not complicated or overwhelming, it’s systemised and it addresses all of the vital components people need to thrive at work and at home.

Why did we make it for businesses?

In all honesty because businesses have the most financial incentive to lead with this and because the magic really happens in teams. When businesses have employees who are healthy, happy, engaged and motivated they generate 3 x more revenue than similar businesses without. When people are implementing new habits as a part of a group they're much more likely to make it stick than if they try on their own.

You and your people don’t need single throw away workshops, gym memberships that don’t get used or software. You need a basic training. A basic training that helps every individual within your organisation understand exactly who they are, exactly who you are, exactly what you are working towards as a team, how to maintain health along the way and how to keep motivation levels high as a standard practice without having to think about it.

That’s why we created our roadmap - The basic training you and your people need to thrive not just survive.

Author - Mike Jones

Mike served 5 years in the British Military then backpacked for 3 living in monasteries and studying cultures. His passion is helping individuals and organisations unlock their potential.

2018 - co-founded Better Happy.

2016 - Opened Metta Box Functional Training Facility

live life better. live life well. healthy happy employees. employee retention. employee health. responsible employers.

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