We have never lived in a more ‘abundant’ time – despite the fact that there are more than 7 billion people on the planet – we have ‘more’ now than ever before in history. We are at the beginning of incredible social changes such as ‘dematerialization’ and ‘demonetization’.
A book called ‘Abundance’ by Diamandis and Kotler – one i could not put down and the sort of book I want to read with my teenagers – explores these ideas. The authors argue that the poorest people in the USA have more services than were available to the richest person 100 years ago – and that we all have instant access to more information than the US president did only a decade ago – hence we live in a time of abundance. What this means is there is a massive shift in what the ‘trappings of success’ look like. The most precious resource of all is time – and no matter how rich you are, you get given the same 24 hours as everybody else.
All this ‘abundance’, however, is not necessarily delivering a better version of human beings. As part of my research for the ‘Get Healthy At Work’ campaign I was reviewing research* about why getting healthy at work such a good idea… I had heard that sitting is the new ‘smoking’, with equal if not worse, potential health consequences. Here are a few alarming statistics – in NSW 52% of people are either overweight or obese, 73% are not eating the right food (i.e. fresh fruit and vegetables) 57% are not moving enough, i.e. they are not getting enough physical activity (oh and we still drink and smoke too much).
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Is the life of abundance in fact slowly killing us; or at best reducing our ability to enjoy life?
I’m known for my commitment to great workplaces and my passion for great employee experiences – but I didn’t become the leader I am today simply to be nice! Quite the contrary, I had other reasons all those years ago for putting in place a program at RedBalloon to support people’s well-being. I had done the research and I found that Happy People (i.e. if your people are happy at work), you are far more likely to have Happy Customers (which ultimately will deliver Happy profits)… there is a commercial outcome for having a great place to work.
More recently this has been confirmed in the study – an employer will save an average of $100k per SME over five years in lost productivity. These figures are alarming – they are the hidden costs of being uncompetitive. If we are ever going to compete on a global scale we need to be physically able to beat the competition.
Let me challenge you for a moment – take a look around your workplace… that person who eats badly, is ducking out for a ‘dart’ at lunch time and who is always sitting around not moving, is two and a half times more likely to be taking sick days. There is another $50k off the bottom line over 5 years.
The research tells us that if people are not physically ‘fit’, then the stresses of any normal job will seem far more overwhelming for them, and 64% of those are unable to cope with the stress associated with their job…. You guessed it – resulting in even more absenteeism.
Every business is different of course – but there is a nifty website where you can find out the economic cost to your business: BizHealthSaver (will you be more or less than $100k as per the head line) – if you ever needed to be convinced, then have a look at this site and the dollars that this is costing businesses speaks for itself.
It does not have to be like this. We live in the most abundant time in history – and we have more information available to us that we have ever had. You can do something about this epidemic… right now.
About 9 years ago I saw my absenteeism and turnover of people skyrocket to 64%… I knew there was no one other than myself, as the leader of the business, who could take responsibility for that. It was not ‘them’, it was ‘me’. I had to transform who I was as a leader of people. I had to realise that people were not there to work for me – I was there to support them. If I supported their well being then they could be there to support the wellbeing of my customers.
It took a massive effort (and still does – it is never finished). But I had to put my word to it and say “I am responsible for creating a work environment that is great for my people.” Simply put – I want them to love what they do every day – be proud of what they do and be recognised for it (and if they go home feeling good about themselves – then that happiness and wellbeing will be shared)…
I went about creating a program of wellbeing. I went to the New Economic Forum; I discovered for a person to flourish, (I love that word) there needs to be positive emotions, a sense of meaning and purpose as well as engagement in what they do. But the person also needs to possess some innate strengths such as resilience, vitality, and self esteem (and if they are physically unfit or overweight this is more difficult). I like the idea though that we can all impact our own well-being, and those around us, simply by taking a look at these five elements:
Make positive connections with the people around you. That is everyone – not just the obvious family and friend – but your colleagues at work are all important – do you feel like you belong?… (are you inclusive and making sure your coworkers or employees are feeling connected and part of the community at work?) It is worth investing time in all connections – making them richer and more meaningful. We are social beings and the more social we are, the more we flourish.
Physical well being is so important to our experience of life – vitality and energy mean you are far more likely to enjoy what you do and do great work. There are many ways of being, and as an employer you can provide the framework for doing that. There are plenty of ideas at the Get Healthy At Work site – a really easy one to do is to sign a team up to Steptember… walk 10,000 steps a day, build team bonds and raise money for a great cause. Walking meetings is one of my favourite things…. It is a matter of changing routines.
I remember one of my mentors once said you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion. To truly listen, be present, notice what is around you and to be curious. I could write about this forever – the importance of being present and recognising people. I am so committed to it I started a business (Redii.com) to help business owners do this easily. Our emotional/mental well being is extremely important – physical wellbeing and mental well being often go hand in hand – if you are feeling good about yourself you are more likely to be active and vice a versa.
As a leader what environment are you creating to help people learn? NEF are talking about all sorts of learning – from cooking to mechanics. It is basically about discovering something you have no idea about. To get out of your comfort zone and push yourself… You could host lunch and learns and play a TED talk video for instance.
When we talk about giving it does not necessarily mean a physical gift. It could be about just giving someone your time, your listening, or your appreciation. To volunteer or help a complete stranger will make you feel great and develop your own well being.
“Research by New Economic Forum shows that building reciprocity and mutual exchange – through giving and receiving – is the simplest and most fundamental way of building trust between people and creating positive social relationships and resilient communities.”
I for one think that we should have a national agenda to improve the nation’s well being and to flourish… (perhaps giving a gift is a good place to start.)
Simply put I have got behind the Get Healthy At Work campaign because work is such a big part of who we are and the time we spend – life is short and I believe that everyone deserves to have a great day at work. It takes leadership, commitment and persistence – but it is for the commercial good, not just of your business, but also for the economy.
Happy (fit) People = Happy Customers… which ultimately delivers Happy profits.
Find out more about what you can do today at Get Healthy At Work
Join me in Steptember (which will tick 4 of the 5 well being actions – community, fitness, recognition and Giving) – Use the promotion code ReadyToSoar and I will pay for you to be a part of my team.
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*NSW Population Health Survey (SAPHaRI). Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health. 2015