Well-being and the real practical benefits to your clients

Well-being- it’s certainly a bit of a buzz-word for HR departments at the moment. So, is it just another trend, the latest fashion or another tick-box on employee surveys?

Or is it rather more than this? How important is it to take care of yourself and your colleagues at work?

If the altruistic side of it isn’t enough of a draw for it to receive top-billing, then what about the impact it has on the service that you provide your clients, and therefore the success or failure of your business? If the well-being of your clients is so important, then it seems hypocritical not to start at home- yes, the people with whom you work, but even closer to home, with yourself.

Everybody has the right to feel absolutely brilliant every day at work- happy, healthy, confident, supported, challenged and inspired. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would willingly reject these things. It’s even harder to argue against the positive effects of a working environment where they flourish. Not only is a little self-love ok, it’s essential.

To have a team of individuals that function at their very best is surely an outcome to be desired. The above conditions, making up our well-being at work, are an enormous contributing factor to this outcome. Let’s start small with you and your own well-being.

In any business, our clients’ interests are at the heart of what we do. We have a duty to ensure that we’re functioning at our very best. If not, then we won’t give them very best experience. This is particularly true of any role that is client-facing. We won’t be as invested and present with each client relationship. It’s irresponsible and you can bet that our clients will pick up on it.

They’ll pick up on our fatigue or exhaustion. They’ll pick up on that absent mindedness, complacency or lack of inspiration- even if it is subconsciously. In fact, it often is. People connect emotionally before they do intellectually. The fine margins matter. To quote the late Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you did, people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

We might be saying all the right words. But if our body language and tone don’t back them up, or give away the demeanour of someone that isn’t fully invested, then they won’t ring true. When our words, body language and tone are not congruent, then people pay far more attention to the body language (55%) and the tone (38%) (Albert Mehrabian)

It’s hard to fake it, and if we’re not taking care of ourselves then it will leak out. The last thing that we want is for clients to be thinking that we don’t care. Don’t underestimate the impression created by not taking care of yourself- it won’t instill much confidence in your fitness for the job of taking care of them and their loved ones. In whatever capacity, great or small, that is our job.

We haven’t even touched on the negative impact that a lack of concern for our well-being could have on our attention to detail, clarity of thought and decision making- critical components to anyone’s performance at work.

Yes, the message is obvious, but easily neglected. It would be a shame to fall behind some of your competitors because you’re not taking care of yourself. Well-being is set to be at the top of the agenda for HR teams by 2020. Get ahead of the game and start with yourself.

The rather outdated separation between work and play, business and pleasure, and the marginalisation of well-being will no longer cut it. Everything matters. It’s naïve to think that our mental and physical well-being have no impact on our performance at work. Elite level athletes can no longer get away with eating and drinking what they want, relying on talent alone to continue performing at the top level. The approach to peak performance is more all-encompassing with strict diets, curfews, new training methods and an exploration of every aspect of their life.

Again- it all matters. It all affects performance. Otherwise, no money would be spent on it. Now, I’m not advocating a complete over-haul of your life-style choices. Far be it from my remit to point the finger, make dietary suggestions and design fitness regimes for you all. You might be really good to yourself and score extremely highly on the well-being front. That’s great. What I’m advocating is a wider acknowledgement and celebration of its impact on your performance and ultimately the outcomes that you achieve for your clients. It’s a no-brainer. 

Here are 3 really simple tweaks that you could make on a day to day basis that will have an immediate impact on your well-being and performance:

  1. Open Up: Take a pause to explore the possible impact that your day to day physicality has on your mindset, motivation, confidence and mood. Smaller, closed off physicality massively increases cortisol (stress hormone) and reduces testosterone. How can you find more opportunities to be open and expansive? Are you sat at a desk lots, hunched over a screen? Do you spend a lot of time messaging from your phone? All of these bring you into a smaller, less expansive space. Expanding and opening up will affect the way that you feel and, therefore, your performance.
  2. Breath Deeper: We often don’t get enough oxygen around the body- shallow breathing. Do some exercises that get you breathing more deeply and get more oxygen flowing around the body, giving you more energy and focus. It’s science.
  3. Work Less: Actually, it’s not about working less, rather, fewer, more efficient hours. Whenever possible, set aside 45-60 minutes for lunch, away from your desk, away from any screen and out of the office. Use that time to be present, re-charging and not working. Whenever possible, leave earlier.

These are tiny, and really easily applied tweaks. It’s about approaching the day with purpose- preparing right and keeping yourself in good condition. Far from self-indulgent, it’s a respect for the job that you do. Not only will you feel much better but your business will reap the benefits. So, I’ll sign out in the words of Jerry Springer: “Take care of yourselves….and each other.” Your clients will thank you.

By Chris Wickenden, 2 April, 2019

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