Saturday, April 27, 2013

Workplace wellness suggestions

[Condensed from an article by a guest contributor to TechRepublic]

1. Your main improvement goal is creativity. Contrary to popular belief, cost savings are not the only goal for a workplace wellness program and if you’re running a tech company or managing an IT team, it shouldn’t be yours. Instead, foster creativity. Whether they design or develop or engineer, they have to imagine new ways of doing things and when they do, your company is more profitable. A good wellness program energizes your team, which fosters their creativity. So, instead of focusing on cost savings, think of the money your wellness program will help you earn.

2. Think long-haul. Your hiring pool is largely Gen Y and, soon enough, Millennials. These groups strongly value their personal life and unlike previous generations, they expect the same of their employer. That means your wellness program should also make you more appealing to potential recruits. The best candidates will not be tempted by a firm that doesn’t address employee wellness. So think of your wellness program as helping you improve both the health of your current team - and the company.

3. Watch the ergonomics. Repetitive motion syndrome, back ache, and eye strain are just some of the ways bad ergonomics can affect your team. If your people are in pain, they aren’t working at peak performance. Don’t wait before addressing ergonomics. Make healthy ergonomics a part of your company culture and bring in a specialist to periodically review everyone's work stations. Get a physical therapist. They are trained to see not only how the work station should be set up, but how to alleviate pain that’s already been set in motion.

4. Getting up and moving is one of the best ways to ensure the team can keep working for years to come. Given how sedentary a job can be, taking a break every hour or so can help the body shake off the strain of being in the same position for too long.

5. Provide healthy food. Whether it’s a full-on cafeteria or just a healthier selection of snacks in the break room or vending machine, keep an eye on food choices. Techies are grazers - and they are often so in the zone they don’t want to bother with a full meal, which leaves them prey to junk food from the vending machine or convenience store. With just a few healthy snacks on hand - crackers, cheese, fruit, nuts - your team can recharge without the empty calories.

6. Embrace your inner geek. Get your team moving with Nerf zombie duels. Let your engineers figure out how many steps it would take to cross the Atlantic - and then use pedometers to see who gets there first! Geeking up your wellness initiatives makes them more fun - and that’s what makes techies want to participate.

7. Keep things interesting. Techies get bored fast with the same old, same old, so keep things fresh.  Invite speakers in to give talks on new topics. Try out the latest fitness apps as a team. The more you mix it up, the more they’ll like it.

8. Watch the stress. Pay attention to the stress levels of your team and seek ways to alleviate it. Forcing a float or vacation day, having an impromptu ping pong competition, or bringing in a massage therapist are all ways to counteract the stresses that go with the job. Remember, not all techies show their stress - but if you think they’re feeling it, they probably are.

9. One of the best side effects of a good wellness program is the way it enhances serendipitous interaction. That’s when one member of your team gets to talking with another, someone they’ve not previously gotten to know very well. It’s a great way to lead to new ways of working together. Wellness initiatives like games and challenges do a lot to increase the chances of serendipitous interactions, but so do subtler interventions like a bowl of nuts in the break room or a daily comic posted on the wall. (Google is huge on promoting serendipitous interaction; they’re probably on to something.)

10. Think beyond the office. Obviously, not everything affecting the health of your team stems from the office. Everyone has times when personal life stresses seep over into work. A good wellness program can reduce the impact of these times by making counsellors available (often through your EAP), creating a venting area (maybe a punching bag?), even allowing some impromptu personal days off. Creating a wellness program for your tech team doesn’t have to be expensive - and it can reap huge rewards for your company, in terms of energy, creativity, and loyalty.

1 comment:

Retro Blog said...

That is really great and applies well to boomers as well,need a little sumpin sumpin for the countdown to retirement, goal setting etc.