The ZEN Of Sports And Wellness

Health and wellbeing is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing – and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity– World Health Organization, 1946.

‘Customer first’ is perhaps as old a term as the first and the oldest workplace on planet Earth, but organisations, very often forget that their employees are their customers ‘first,’ and that it is in their wellbeing that the wellbeing of the organisation lies. That every organisation must take the first step in providing the right environment for its employees is only natural, while at the same time, it must also ensure their well-being by providing the requisite hygiene, the right infrastructure, privileges towards health & wellness, recognition programmes and growth prospects. An ideal work place is one which fosters healthy workplace policies and promotes healthy lifestyles by encouraging participation in sports activities.

High levels of competitiveness have indeed taken a toll on the lives of employees the world over. Long working hours, junk food, impossible deadlines, high levels of stress, and no physical exercise invariably lead to diminished attendance and poor health patterns resulting in low levels of productivity; which in fact, is the cause for great concern. This results in frustration among employees which they give vent to on the members of their families, thus leading to a miserable situation.

Fostering a positive ambience

A healthy workplace fosters a positive ambience that is supportive, helps build skills and encourages healthy living. A healthy mind is truly a catalyst for increased productivity, and this can be best achieved by introducing health education, establish appropriate health programmes, and making sports a vital part of the professional lives.  Sports offer the foundation to practice discipline and foster healthy relationships at the workplace. It has an inherent unifying spirit which helps develop immense camaraderie. Playing any kind of sport teaches one how to assess situations, how to delegate, and thereby arrive at the right decisions. It helps in honing one’s management skills and develops team building qualities. One can also learn the means of motivating the others and keep them engaged to produce winning results. In fact, under such circumstances, an organisation can strategise the implementation of health & wellness programmes, an initiative of utmost significance for employees. In certain organisations, a complete health check-up prior to one’s joining is a prerequisite, while in some others, a psychological session with a seasoned practitioner forms a part of their hiring process. Employers can conceptualise meaningful strategies for their employees as well as the environment they work in.  

Strategies at the workplace

Strategies for people should include:

  • Programmes on personal development
  • Workshops / Lectures on health education and social behavioural patterns
  • Periodic visits by health and medical specialists to address the employees on various issues pertaining to their health and its implications on their professional and personal lives.

 Strategies for the work premises should include:

  • Creating an interactive ambience that welcomes all cultures
  • Provision of a host of policies and facilities promoting health of employees at the workplace
  • Acknowledgement of goals achieved and a highly appeasing reward system

The workforce is a medley of gregarious, inhibited, and even diffident individuals. As an organisation, you need to respect the privacy of every individual. For those who are hesitant in sharing issues related to their health, a very discreet online survey can be organised, thereby inquiring about the health and behavioural patterns of employees. Employees can share details about their physical and mental ailments, their current health conditions, the ongoing treatment and support required, to help them lead healthier lives. A visiting psychologist and clinical psychiatrist could well serve to understand the problems of various individuals and help them overcome their anxieties and innate complexes. 

Solutions for building a healthy environment

Not everyone can afford the luxury of a gym or to purchase a good sports cycle to flex their muscles and burn fat. Every organisation must conduct such health surveys and strategize on how best they can alleviate the health issues of their workforce. Such considerations begin at the top, and the desired outcome can be gained only through genuine efforts. The solutions are manifold and dependent on the organisation’s vision of a better workplace:

1. A well-planned in-house gym with a trainer offering the ultimate tips to follow a regimen and organising field-trips with compulsory participation for all. This would help physically and also help nurture more rewarding relationships outside of the workplace.

2. Organising prize-winning internal sports competitions on a weekly/fortnightly basis making it imperative for all to partake be it caroms, chess, etc.

3. As part of a CSR initiative, an organisation can organize walkathons / mini-marathons with a nominal fee from each employee and utilize that money towards sponsoring a health programme for colleagues who are less privileged in the office.

4. An early 20 minute yoga session before starting the day would portend well for the entire work force and a small meditation room in one remote corner of the office accessible to all could offer much solace in the midst of a haranguing day.

5. Creative messages on healthy eating can adorn the work station of employees who need support. Posters on the ills of smoking / excessive drinking or unhealthy indulgences can adorn the walls of the reception / lobby to encourage active participation in healthy habits.

6. Organising workshops on healthy living and nutritious diets, physical health and fitness and special counselling sessions if required in the larger interests of the organisations.

7. Making it mandatory for every employee to walk to the pantry to fill their own water bottle and collect their respective cuppa tea/coffee.

8. Inviting healthy lunch recipes from employees and rewarding the most delicious recipes

9. Organising mandatory 3-4 minutes stretching sessions at work stations at regular intervals.

10. Arranging health-camps on the premises / or form an alliance with a hospital for a range of health-camps and organise for courses like Tai-chi, Yoga, Meditation and Self-defence at specially discounted fees for their employees.

11. Introducing paternal leave, flexi-hours for employees.

12. Rendering due credence to employees’ health issues and lend support wherever necessary.

To strike the right balance between work and family, every organisation must play by the rules which include, logging/concluding the work day at the right time, not carrying work home and a complete ‘switch-off’ mode over the weekends. This force employees to follow suit and they learn to participate more wholly in family and social life. To promote a healthy environment, the organisation must set distinct goals for their employees, rewarding achievers handsomely e.g. organise an ‘I give up smoking forever’ challenge. The employees can be monitored. The early bird not only wins a sponsored gift by the employer, but helps others to quit smoking as well. Rewards do not have to always be of a monetary nature. The company can arrange for discounted memberships at gyms for, or sponsor bicycles to encourage them to make sporting activities an inherent part of their lives. Organisations situated across a sprawling acreage can create special walking paths encouraging employees to take brisk walks after lunch or even a 5 minute break to stretch their limbs along these paths. Smaller organisations can organise sporting events outdoors and even recreational offsite trips. A variety of in‑house clubs, managed by employees can be devoted to specific activities. Such clubs help foster amicable relations between colleagues, irrespective of the prevalent hierarchy. Employees working in happy work environments invariably lead contented lives. Happy individuals learn to reserve time for their families and themselves. The absence of stress and vicious competition, realistic working hours, acknowledgment of unique and individual contributions motivates employees. A happy employee makes any place, be it work or home, more vibrant and cheerful, the cumulative effect of which produces unimaginably positive results.

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