2018 has started at warp speed.
Or, so it seems to me. And, speaking to colleagues and friends, I’m not alone.
So much has happened in the first few weeks of the year, bringing a renewed sense of hope, optimism and positivity, coupled with an overwhelming sense that we have an enormous amount of work to do.
In South Africa, new leadership is champing at the bit, we finally have a new President, corruption is under serious scrutiny and the mood amongst our clients is definitely more buoyant. For the first time since 2015, the Rand has broken the R12/$ barrier. Cape Town is bracing for Day Zero and counting the potential human and business cost of being the first major city to switch off the taps, while thousands of litres of water are arriving by truck, sent by well-meaning Joburgers who want to assist animal shelters and the like.
Personally, January seems to have passed in a blur. Despite my best intentions to consciously remain focused on my crucial purpose, my packed diary often left little space or time for focus, reflection and personal development.
If, as business leaders, we’re feeling this way, our teams most certainly are too.
The question is how best to help them – and ourselves.
One of the avenues that has gained so much traction is corporate wellness.
For some, ‘corporate wellness’ may conjure up images of weight management programmes, SmokeEnders and emailers about managing stress. However, corporate wellness has shifted from monitoring physical health towards a more holistic, proactively preventative approach, with the intent of increasing employee engagement, reducing absenteeism and boosting creativity and focus. Going forward, I believe that we’re likely to see the rise of more sophisticated and meaningful Wellness Programmes that really make a difference by focusing on key areas like sleep, mindfulness and mental health.
In the 1980’s, sleep deprivation was considered a badge of honour.
Margaret Thatcher famously got by on only 4 hours of sleep a night, stating ‘sleep is for wimps’. Today, the Rand Corporation estimates that sleep deprivation costs US employers roughly $411 billion per annum – and everyone from Oprah to Arianna Huffington is espousing the benefits of at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Sleep improves cognitive functioning, productivity and creativity, protects the body from disease and helps keep your weight down.
I believe we’ll see business leaders tackling sleep deprivation with sleep awareness education, sleep challenges and work time naps. We may even see some providing sleep rooms or pods. Flexible hours also allow employees to better manage rest, particularly in an always-on, 24/7 world
Mindfulness is another concept that can make a big impact.
Buddhify is a mindfulness app that offers guided meditation, with surprising results. It helps users to sleep better and helps them to find their ‘happy place’ during times of intense stress. All of which is excellent, given that studies show that people who practice meditation have stronger focus, stay calmer under stress and have better memory - just ask Bill Gates and Richard Branson. Finding ways to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into my professional environment is one of my key challenges in 2018.
Mental health issues are often stigmatised – and, as a result, hidden.
However, in South Africa, loss of productivity due to mental illness is estimated to be R17 billion per year, with R15 billion attributed to ‘presenteeism’, where workers are on the job, but not fully functioning because they’re ill.
Wellness programmes can make a difference to mental health by offering mental health days, therapy benefits and a focus on self-care.
Many of these programmes have also become more personalised.
Today, nobody expects a ‘one size fits all’ model. AI and big data have made it possible to use collected data to design personalised experiences, which cater to individual needs, set specific challenges and offer unique incentives.
However you choose to navigate 2018, whether by simply focusing on the growing trend towards ‘grounding’ (the simplest way to be grounded is to go outside and place your bare feet or hands on the earth or immerse yourself in a body of conductive water, like the sea or a mineral-rich lake) or incorporating formal wellness interventions into your life, it’s clear that to be able to stay healthy and excel in a high performance world, we need to be finely tuned and firing on all cylinders.
‘Health is a state of mind. Wellness is a state of being’
Written by Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co, Insource IT Edge and The Working Earth, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 20 years of recruitment and executive search experience. Connect with her on LinkedIn: Georgina Barrick.