Small gestures of kindness by employers can have a big impact on employees’ health and work performance, according to new research. “The health and wellbeing of employees make an essential contribution to business success,” says nutritionist, Lily Soutter.
Here’s eight everyday gestures you can make to create a difference in the office, with help from the experts.
Celebrate the positives
Isabella Venour, Mindset & Marketing Coach, says, “Celebrate the positives, no matter how small. It is often easier for us to notice the things that haven’t been done perfectly or the actions that irritate us in the office but we can too easily let positive actions pass us by without acknowledging them. Next time you think something nice about a colleague, let them know. It could be that they added something surprising to their work, offered a useful solution, you love their outfit or are impressed by how calm they appear in the face of a tight deadline. It’s a small gesture that can go a long way to improving their day and the morale in the office.”
Encourage each other to take a full lunch break
“Whilst it may seem like employees may be more efficient by forgoing their lunch breaks, this isn’t necessarily true. A 2018 survey showed that 90% of employees who took a proper lunch break felt more refreshed and ready to get back to work. What’s more, getting active during lunchtime has also been shown to improve concentration, mood and productivity at work. Encouraging employees to take lunch breaks and even organising lunchtime group walks may increase productivity and even morale!” explains Lily Soutter, who specialises in workplace wellness, implementing nutrition focused wellbeing programmes within corporate organisations across the UK.
Wipe the slate clean
Isabella Venour says, “Our relationship with colleagues can sometimes be blurred between friendly and professional which can create some tension. If you need to give constructive feedback, start the conversation or email by acknowledging what they’ve done well before explaining what you’re asking from them and why. Conflicts can occur from time to time but we don’t need to hold onto those negative feelings. After each exchange, wipe the slate clean and start your relationship with that person anew with a positive attitude.”
Inspire colleagues with a healthy lifestyle
“Nutrition focused workplace wellness initiatives are key to educating and inspiring employees to make healthier dietary choices which can enhance energy, cognitive performance and even mood. Lunch & learns are a time-efficient way to empower busy employees to make positive dietary changes. Topics can range from foods to boost brainpower and mood, eating for a high-energy workday and even dietary advice to support immunity all year round. What’s more practical recipe workshops can encourage employees to put knowledge into practice, by inspiring them to create healthy lunches and snacks to boost work performance,” advises Lily Soutter.
Lead by example
“Implementing nutrition focused wellness programmes into an office can fall on deaf ears if it’s not tailored to the employees needs. Each company is unique; therefore nutrition initiatives should be bespoke and flexible.”
“A key aspect of a good nutrition intervention is to involve employees with the planning and even execution. Providing a pre-programme questionnaire and appointing wellbeing champions to part deliver training can be an efficient way of encouraging dietary change. Engaging employees with competitions such as developing recipes for healthy heart month or breakfasts for energy can be a fast track way of building momentum,” adds Lily Soutter.
Random acts of kindness
Isabella Venour suggests, “Challenge yourself to ‘bring the joy’ to your office. Each week commit to doing one thing out of the blue that will spark joy in someone’s life. It can be buying them a coffee on your way into work, giving them some fun looking post-its for their desk, or sending them a link to something that interests them to show you listened and kept them in mind.”
Count your blessings
“Gratitude is the ultimate mood alchemist, helping counteract symptoms of SAD. We can tap into it by anchoring the mind on what’s going well, trying the ‘count your blessings’ track in ThinkWell-LiveWell (£8 a month, www.thinkwell-livewell.com) or simply by putting aside the ‘to do’ list and acknowledging what ‘got done’ instead,” advises Qualified Psychologist, working with ThinkWell-LiveWell (www.thinkwell-livewell.com), Suzy Reading.
Office treats go a long way!
“The office cake tray culture is rife within the workplace. Whilst there is nothing wrong with enjoying an afternoon sweet treat, an abundance of energy dense sweet foods can increase the risk of weight gain and it’s associated health conditions. This in turn may increase absenteeism and productivity.”
“When it comes to offices snacking, ‘out of sight out of mind’ really is key. Remove barriers to change and get to the root cause of the issue by providing nourishing office snacks for longer lasting energy and optimal brain function.”
“Snacks that balance blood sugar and provide an element of protein and fibre are a top choice for productivity. Try fresh fruit, nut butters, natural yoghurt, hummus with crudités, oatcakes with healthy toppings such as cottage cheese and tomato. For a sweeter alternative opt for dark chocolate, energy balls or a low sugar wholemeal banana loaf,” recommends Lily Soutter.