If you haven’t seen part one yet, click here.
The Brain-Body Link in Business (Part 2 of 2)
In part 1 of this article, we discussed what the brain-body link is to our personal and professional performance. We also talked about The Movement Spectrum and how it can be used to improve health, happiness, and performance each day…even without a traditional approach to fitness or the gym.
All of this ties perfectly into the role that leaders, companies, and even government play in health, wellbeing, and business performance.
At the corporate level, it’s no secret that healthy, happy, engaged employees perform better and contribute more to the organization while having lower health care costs. On the flip side, unhealthy, stressed, disengaged employees are unproductive and cost billions of dollars every year to their organizations and communities. Yet, despite these clear facts, most companies and workplace environments are making the situation worse.
Work is one of the top sources of debilitating stress.
According to research by GALLUP, 64% of workers are disengaged, and 13% of those are actively disengaged, which means they are purposely sabotaging coworkers and the organization. It’s crystal clear that change is needed.
At the heart of organizational change is the reframing of leadership mindsets and corporate culture.
Leaders must embrace the fact that healthy people lead to healthy business, and then actually create the change that’s needed to improve employee performance. I believe the first step is to change role responsibilities at the C-level to include employee health.
This could involve adding responsibilities to a current executive or creating a new role such as Chief Wellness (Wellbeing) Officer. These days, a C-level executive with measurable KPIs around employee health, happiness, and well-being is about as common as a two-headed unicorn! (A huge shout out to Deloitte and Jen Fisher for being the exception to the rule)
We could talk about all kinds of great programs to implement, but without C-level accountability for employee wellness, we will continually be fighting an uphill battle. Thankfully, until this happens, there are still ways we can create change.
A simple place to start is for leaders to educate their teams on how to harness the movement spectrum. Of course, this requires a shift in corporate culture so employees actually have PERMISSION to start moving throughout the work day and aren’t required to be chained to a desk or device. Leaders can also provide a framework to help employees implement these new habits.
Some great examples are:
- Encouraging standing and stretching during long meetings
- Running 25 and 50 minute meetings to allow for regular movement, activity, and mental health breaks.
- Most importantly, we need to have senior leadership model these changes and speak to them each day.
Notice how none of these changes cost money? Wellness is not a budget issue, it’s a mindset and behavioural shift.
Of course, some changes and programs will cost money. However, it doesn’t necessarily need to cost more than you are already spending. Companies currently spend lots of money on wellness, but offering a variety of wellness services doesn’t mean that a strategic program is in place, or that results will be generated.
Investing in defining an organization wide wellbeing strategy and setting it up correctly is definitely money well spent. Properly implemented strategies show an amazing financial return. Usually somewhere in the ballpark of 300-800%!
Yes, that’s right, all you CEO’s and CFO’s out there can rest assured that there’s a strong business case for STRATEGIC wellness…not simply the standard services offered by your benefits plan. These benefits options are a great piece of the puzzle, but they are NOT a wellness program.
Government & Community
From the government and community perspective, investing in the health and wellbeing of citizens makes even more sense. 5 of the 6 leading causes of death are “lifestyle diseases”. That means they are largely preventable through small changes in lifestyle behaviours and daily habits.
Heart disease and Cancer are the top two and make up over 50% of deaths. When we talk about low hanging fruit for change, it doesn’t get more obvious than this. Yet, our healthcare system is structured around treating illness rather than promoting wellness.
Making a commitment at all levels of government to promote the movement spectrum is a simple act that will dramatically reshape our communities and the health of our citizens. Some of these changes are already happening with community building and revitalization centred around less driving and more around outdoor recreation and leisure activities.
This can also be improved through targeted and engaging behavioural change campaigns that inspire people to create the desired changes in their life. Most importantly, this change process must be positive, uplifting, supportive. The marketing material shouldn’t read like a typical government pamphlet.
People don’t need more cookie cutter information on health, fitness, and mindfulness. They want simple and effective solutions to their most pressing challenges.
What can we do?
At the most elemental level, three components must exist for any change to be successful:
- People must have a clear and compelling vision of a more positive future for themselves
- They must have a simple and easy to follow plan
- They must believe that by following the plan over time they can be successful
I see the role of companies, communities, and governments to facilitate each of these steps and support individuals throughout their journey. As individuals, it’s up to us to continue learning and developing.
By embracing a growth mindset, we can continue to improve the areas of our lives that are most important to us. Using the movement spectrum to improve our health and happiness is one of the best ways to ensure that every other area of our life improves. Being sick, tired, and unhealthy is like driving with the emergency brake on. It’s a lot of extra work for not a lot of progress.
The first step is to review the Movement Spectrum, and start plugging it into your day. Start with the mobility minute each morning and evening and increase your daily activity, even if it’s just your step count. Aim to sweat a few times per week.
It doesn’t matter what activity you do, just do it above your baseline. If you’ve been doing all of these consistently for several months, feel free to add fitness and performance to the mix.
Find out who’s responsible for employee health and well-being at your company and encourage your leaders to adopt some of the healthy workplace habits we discussed. Support community organizations and leaders who promote more outdoor activity and wellness education.
While these changes may be simple in concept, I’m not naive enough to think they are easy. We are working against decades of ingrained habits, outdated policies and misinformation.
However, my experience as a personal performance expert and as a parent of two young kids has shown me that having a vision for change and making small daily actions can add up to tremendous results over time.
When we all work together, we can accelerate that change. So, please remember…MOVEMENT IS LIFE.
Now, if you are a business owner or senior leader and want to improve employee engagement, retention, recruiting, overall people performance as well as profitability…let’s chat. I would love to connect and help facilitate that change for you and your team.
Think, Move, and Be Well
FRESH! Wellness Group
P.S. Seriously…Wellbeing works! Just DM me on LinkedIn and we will set up a time to connect.