Updated: Feb 8
Supercharge employee well-being without apps, software, or gym memberships.
Does employee well-being cause you concern? It doesn’t need to. For a variety of reasons, employee well-being is a new stress for most people in business leadership roles. Firstly because most leaders genuinely care about their people, secondly because poor wellbeing seriously hinders the performance of the business and thirdly it can often seem like the very jobs you are providing are contributing to the poor well-being you are concerned about.
For those reasons it not only creates stress but can feel like a difficult problem to solve.
But what if I were to tell you that you - and most other leaders - are looking at it in the wrong way… and that by looking at it differently you’ll no longer be stressed about the problem but excited about the opportunity.
I’ll share a story with you that might help you shift your view.
My professional career started in the British military as a soldier and intelligence analyst. After two back-to-back tours of Afghanistan and a run with a manager I, let’s say, didn’t see eye to eye with, I decided found myself very unhappy and decided to leave. Not knowing what I wanted to do with my life and feeling disenfranchised, I headed on a one-way ticket to Thailand in search of answers to questions I was not yet clear on. One thing I was clear on was I didn’t feel happy, and I didn’t know what might make me happy.
This trip took me on a personal journey of discovery spending years studying Buddhism as well as living in monasteries in Thailand and Nepal. During that time I discovered a new philosophy for life that helped me find inner peace and live a more meaningful life. One of the most important things I learned was that the meaning of life is to be happy and that happiness is not what we view it to be in the western world. Whereas we take happiness to be a feeling of joy and comfort. In the Buddhist sense, happiness pertains more to a deep feeling of peace and contentment one experiences though trying to be a good person and have a positive impact on others. It’s not about being comfortable or never experiencing sadness/pain.
Ultimately we can only make a meaningful difference in the world when we connect with and work with others toward shared and meaningful goals. Throughout the whole of human history, humans have fulfilled this need by working together in tribes, communities, nations, and religions. Today in the digital world it’s common for people not to be connected to any of these communities and that’s one of the main reasons we are experiencing such high levels of poor physical and mental well-being. Often physical exercise is touted as the holy grail for improving your mental health but I don’t see it that way. The way I see it is that humans need to feel connected to others and work towards goals to feel happy and when they feel happy they are much more likely to be physically active and well. So where can the modern human find connection to others with shared goals that make a positive impact?
If this isn’t making the penny drop that your business, no matter what size it is or what industry it’s in is the key to human happiness in the modern world please go back and re-read. It doesn’t matter how significant or insignificant the things your business achieves are, all that matters is that you are giving people the opportunity to connect to others and make a positive difference. Whether that’s through keeping people's houses clean or collecting people's rubbish is neither here nor there. By bringing people together and clearly linking the work they do to the bigger picture you are doing more for their well-being than they could ask for.
That’s great, but what about poor physical health?
Again, from studying Buddhism and studying the world's longest-lived communities we find the commonalities that lead to good health. The worlds longest-lived don’t enjoy good physical health because they go to gyms or regularly go on diets. They enjoy good health because they are in a community of people that support each other and an environment that makes good health happen naturally. In the modern world, the environment certainly does not make good health happen naturally. People are surrounded by processed food, a constant bombardment of negativity, and are encouraged to live relatively sedentary lives. So your opportunity is to create an environment that makes good health easy and nurture a community that priorities it. Perhaps that sounds complicated and expensive, but it’s not.
Run workplace challenges on the basics of good health throughout the year. Have competitions for minimum step counts per day. Give people time for lunch and breakfast and put up posters educating them on the basics of a macro balanced meal. Have conversations with people about the importance of sleep and share tips on how to get good sleep.
Maybe all of this sounds complicated but it’s really not. A little bit of effort goes a long way. Remember, most employers are doing nothing about this or trying to do what everyone else is by providing apps and rewards. Guess what, more apps and videos isn’t what people need for better well-being. They need meaning through work, human connection and an environment that supports health. You can do this easily. If you want some help, feel free to get in touch and we’ll talk you through it even if you don’t want to work with us.
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Mike Jones Better Happy Founder
Mike founded Better Happy in 2018.
He now works with a variety of businesses ranging from small accountancies up to large organisations such as Travelodge on improving employee happiness. Mike's vision and the vision of Better Happy is 'Every employee happy, every business thriving'