Wellbeing Programmes: What are They, and Why Do They Matter?

Special guest blog by John Walters, Co-founder & Director of Questae Collective.

Businesses have many differing objectives. They have different visions, and goals. They have different internal cultures, societal belief systems, habits, traditions. Things are done in a certain way because that is how they do them! They have hierarchy, roles, responsibilities, and structures. They also have many different departments, all with their own differing cultures, personalities, and communication processes.

But the one thing they do all have in common, is that they all have PEOPLE!

workplace wellbeing

Studies have found that 1 in 5 people take a day off due to stress, yet 90% of these people cited a different reason for their absence. Source MHFA England

And when we look at the statistics, it’s even more concerning. Data from the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) 2019 report has found that “17.5 million working days were lost last year due to mental health-related sickness absence.” Source ONS Labour Force Survey

The report further found that stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases and 54% of all working days lost due to ill health.” Source MHFA England

The workplace is certainly shifting, and the past 10 months have accelerated this incredibly, irreversibly maybe (I hope so).

Culture within the workplace, whether that be at home, in the office, in transit, co-working space, or wherever it is, is now more than ever changing how we work, how we interact, how we communicate.

So how do we ensure that this shift takes us towards a culture of health and wellbeing?

How can businesses embrace this shift to help their people nourish, thrive, and expand?

planteria plants

The first question we often get asked is “what is wellness?”

Our take on this is that wellness is an active process of becoming aware of, and making choices toward, a healthy and fulfilling life. It is more than just being free from illness; it is a dynamic process of change and growth. Wellness is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

“Physical and mental health are inextricably connected; without one, the other cannot thrive.” An interview with Rex Millar www.rexmillar.com

Businesses that have already engaged in programmes, or implemented strategies or shifts in their culture to embrace, promote, and live by the pillars of wellness, they really are making a difference, but not only to their people, to themselves as well.

By treating their people as individuals, by empowering them and creating a culture that has a focus on offering, and expanding ideas, knowledge, techniques, and skills to enhance wellness and wellbeing, they have shifted their culture in a way that supports, guides, and encourages individuals with the aim of enhancing physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

So, what’s in it for the business?

Vitality Health’s ‘Britain’s Healthiest Workplace’ initiative has proven that businesses that embrace wellness as a fundamental part of their culture do thrive and succeed and expand in many more ways that just bottom line. In fact, in an open letter to business leaders in the 2019 2019 Health at Work Report, Neville Koopowitz, CEO of Vitality UK writes, “when employers embark on promoting better health among their employees, there are no losers. Employees are healthier, happier, and more engaged with their work: employers benefit from a more productive and motivated workforce, with lower levels of sickness absence.”

These benefits include:

  • Greater employee engagement
  • Enhanced productivity
  • Reduced employee burnout
  • Reduced sick days
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Enhanced positive communication
  • Less stress
  • Increased profitability
  • Attraction and retention of staff
  • Happier healthier people
  • Enhanced communication
  • Resilience

On top of these benefits, the people, the staff, and I mean all of them all the way up to the executive leadership teams, will benefit from a greater understanding of wellness, and will have a better understanding of themselves, their emotions and those of their colleagues.

But what really makes the change is the tool kit that they will all have within their own personal armoury. They will have the knowledge, the skills, and the confidence to manage many situations and scenarios that currently they would not. Situations that may cause them, and those around them, distress, stress, anxiety, panic, mood changes and many more.

They will know what they need to do for themselves, and how to encourage others.

So, what are some of the simple, and easy to achieve tools, tips or activities that we can take part in?

Get out and into nature, embrace the sunshine and fresh air or, when indoors, whether in the home or workspace, bring nature with you by introducing biophilia, which literally means ‘love of life’. This can improve productivity, lower stress levels, enhance learning comprehension, and increase recovery rates from illness.

Researchers have found that more than 90% of people would imagine themselves in a natural setting when asked to think of a place where they felt relaxed and calm. Being in or around nature makes us feel good, our physical and mental wellbeing depends on us spending time in a natural environment and this affects our productivity and general wellbeing too. Source Biophilia – What is it and why is it important? | PlanteriaSimilar benefits can be received in the work place from the installation of corporate plants in commercial spaces.

Exercise, no matter how simple (or intense), as well as eating nutritious food, maintaining good gut health, and keeping energy levels up, can help too.

Relax at work concept. Yoga mat in an office desk

Finding time and space for ourselves, whether this is meditation or reading a good book it important as well, as is laughter – watch a good old comedy (or a new one, of course).

Keep a check on finances, on your vocational ambitions, and recognise how you are feeling in your mind… how is your emotional wellbeing and what are you doing to maintain healthy, positive mindfulness?

By implementing and creating such inclusive, open and caring cultures, conversations that would normally be considered ‘unspeakable’ or ‘not for the office’ will be normalised. People will feel listened to, valued, appreciated, welcome, safe. They will have the tools to understand, be compassionate, caring, and be inclusive to all.

And there you have it, in simplistic terms, to enjoy the journey that wellness takes us on, we need to understand and implement the strategies that work for us, that bring us an overall feeling of wellbeing, and we can now see, and understand, in very simplistic terms, the many benefits to enjoy.

The key now is to get businesses to see, understand, value, and implement strategies within the workplace to complete the circle.

If you have read this, and you would like to know more, or if you would like to find out how we can assist, guide and implement programmes tailored for you, then please do get in touch on:

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How to Combat WFH Fatigue

Special guest blog by Katie Henry, Director and Founder of Art in Offices.

Are you still working from home (WFH)? Us too and, to be honest, we’re getting a little tired of it. There are positives, of course; we don’t have to commute and shove ourselves into tin cans for a 30min+ journey into the city, it’s convenient for dropping the kids off at school (when we’re not in lockdown and home-schooling), and yes, we probably see more of our families and other halves (if we’re lucky enough to live with them). We can also raid the fridge for whatever we want and go for walks whenever we want; but there are negatives too.

Office plants

Without the stimulus of group chats, collaborative conversations, and a dedicated working space which separates life from home (not to mention our favourite coffee shop and some lunchtime shopping), we might find our mental health suffering and WFH fatigue setting in.

So what can we do? You’ll be pleased to know there is actually a very simple solution which applies not just to working from home, but to the office environment too. Here’s the simple formula:

Plants + Art = more productive and happier you.

Home Office 1 - Blue Riad

Yep, it really is that simple. As you will have read in previous blogs I’ve written, Dr Craig Knight of the University of Exeter has studied workspaces (in this case offices) and, in his study of 2010, he compared offices which are unenriched (meaning they have no plants or decoration) to those which were.

The results were staggering. Simply adding plants and art increased productivity in the staff by up to 35% and staff wellness increased by 42%. And when we say wellness, we mean people noted less stress, less mental anguish, less anxiety, there were fewer sick days and everyone felt happier. When people were allowed to curate their own space and choose what they had in the office, these figures went up even more.

Bedroom setup with art and plants

So, lucky you, working from home, you have the opportunity now to curate your own workspace and choose which plants and art you have up on the wall! It’s for just this reason that Art in Offices is collaborating with Planteria to provide you with the solution to having both of these things in your home workspace.

Art In Offices have launched a 3-month rental service specifically for your homes, and Planteria has just launched Planteria Homes. Art in Offices offering includes a new range of super affordable prints (which can be rented from just £25 per month) as well as the massive array of paintings they would usually hang in offices.

dreamer art print

And Planteria Home is an online shop supplying a selection of quality plants ideal for the home, which can be delivered to your home or the home of your employees anywhere in the UK.

We are both offering discount codes to our loyal follower and clients, which can be found on our social media and newsletters or get in touch to organise.

But why does this work? What is it about plants and art that increase our productivity and our wellness?

In the case of art, the reason it makes us more productive is because it creates an atmosphere we enjoy working in. There are stimulating things to look at, our brains are constantly stimulated and when we get screen fatigue there is something enjoyable to look at and get lost in, until your brain feels ready to start again.

In the case of plants, the greenery gets us back to nature and the outdoors (the natural habitat for humans who have been farming and living in the landscape for millennia), they purify the air, add texture and interest and something to nurture (even for those of us who aren’t green-fingered – we might still say hello to them).

Phlebodium Aureum

It’s all about creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to making you feel happy, which is why those figures shoot up when people get to decide themselves what they see (we all have different tastes after all).

Right now, we all need to be doing things that make us happy, so add some plants and art to your space, and feel the difference it makes to your day.

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5 Ways to Make Your Home Workspace a More Inspirational Place to Work

Special guest blog by Nadia Themistocleous, Designer at Trifle* Creative.

An inspiring workspace will help you focus, be more productive and more enthused about sitting down to work. If you’re drawing a blank when you sit down to work or simply don’t even fancy taking a seat then perhaps consider a few of these tips to help you feel a little more energised, ready and want to work…

plants in office

Tip 1 – Get some plants and plan some outdoor breaks

Critical for good air, mental breaks and overall wellbeing; outdoor breaks are scientifically proven to increase productivity, creativity and attention span. Connecting to nature is a basic need and that’s why surrounding yourself with plants has such a good impact too. Planteria Home was born to support staff working from home and you can arrange to gift, or buy at a discount for your organisation.

Tip 2 – A desk and chair that really works

Sitting at the kitchen table might be alright for a few hours but it’s really not conducive to productivity or any good for your posture. The reality is that working from home will be part of the future so invest in some proper kit. Workplace designers Trifle* offer a great collection. The Homework Bureau package is part of their HomeWork collection and is the in-house favourite.

Planteria home desk and plant

Tip 3 – Curate your space

Have items around you that inspire and uplift (books, reference, imagery, art, objects, photos). It’s good to let your mind wander occasionally as it triggers your subconscious which lets you come up with great ideas. Fine art dealer Art in Offices has diversified from its corporate client base with its art rental for homes offering and a selection of affordable prints to buy.

wall art

Tip 4 – Crack out a great playlist

“Music is the strongest form of magic.” – Marilyn Manson. Music can have an incredibly powerful influence on our mood. If you need to get yourself out of a rut, concentrate or just feel a little happier about things, get a good playlist on the go, it can really help.

Tip 5 – Scent your space

Think about all your senses. Smell isn’t considered that much at the workplace (apart from when it’s bad) but it can also help you in the same way music can. Creating a calm or even feeling energised can be impacted by the scent in your space. It’s definitely a good excuse to justify yourself a nice candle.

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Sustainability – what is it and why is it important?

Sustainability is much more than a buzzword. While the use of the word has certainly increased in frequency, the concept itself is hardly new. An ecosystem, a lifestyle, or a community that is sustainable is one which supports itself and its surroundings.
Sustainability itself can be defined by three core elements:

  • Environmental Protection
  • Social Development
  • Economic Development

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Environmental Protection

Environmental protection entails examining how our use of the environment affects it, and how we can ensure that negative effects are minimised and behaviours that positively impact the environment are emphasised.

Social Development

Ensuring that human beings have access to basic resources, that their health is being protected, and that they enjoy a good quality of life within a sustainable environment is crucial.

Economic Development

Sustainability without economic development simply cannot succeed. In order to convince individuals, communities, and organisations to invest their resources in sustainability, there must be incentives above and beyond the long-term advantages.

Why is it so Important?

Sustainability is important for a very simple reason: we cannot maintain our quality of life or the Earth’s ecosystems unless we embrace it.

Sustainability in the Home

There are many different ways to support sustainability at home.

Recycle

Recycling should be something we’re all doing as a matter of course now. Recycling eases pressure on the world’s resources and the environment.

Growing Food

Giving up a portion of your garden to plant vegetables has become increasingly popular in recent years. Container gardens, which can be moved and easily swapped out, are another great choice.

Conserving Water

Choosing plants native to your area that have evolved to thrive under the naturally present conditions is one choice. You can also consider installing rain barrels, depending on your local regulations, or planting a “rain garden”—planting water-loving foliage in areas where water tends to gather, to allow it to be absorbed into the soil rather than running off into storm drains.

Use of Fertilizers, Pesticides, and Herbicides

The chemicals you use on your lawn matter, and not just to your grass. Using safer, organic alternatives can help you keep your landscaping looking lovely without polluting or endangering the ecosystem. Lawn and garden care chemicals can have lasting effects on plants, animals, and insects in your area, and can also have a negative impact on the water supply.

There are so many ways to embrace sustainability, we hope this blog has given you some ideas to get you started.

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