Physical Wellness Workplace Initiatives: There are so many certified, qualified trainers, coaches, instructors, physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists (you get it) in our communities. The future of the workplace includes visits, seminars, trainings and appointments with these qualified individuals as part of standard operating procedures and/or benefits packages.
The pandemic pause brought us to a moment of collective reckoning about what it means to live well and to work well. As a result, employees are sending employers an urgent signal that they are no longer willing to choose one — life or work — at the cost of the other. Working from home brought life literally into our work. And as the world now goes hybrid, employees are drawing firmer boundaries about how much of their work comes into their life. Where does this leave employers? And which perspectives and programs contribute most to progress? In our newest interview series, Working Well: How Companies Are Creating Cultures That Support & Sustain Mental, Emotional, Social, Physical & Financial Wellness, we are talking to successful executives, entrepreneurs, managers, leaders, and thought leaders across all industries to share ideas about how to shift company cultures in light of this new expectation. We’re discovering strategies and steps employers and employees can take together to live well and to work well.
As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ange Caufield-Thompson.
Ange is an experienced leadership coach, business consultant and corporate trainer with a background in Business Administration and Marketing & Management. Her magic is her unique approach and natural ability to adapt her communication style to any audience. Combining her management experience, leadership skills and love of teaching, Ange is dismantling the traditional approach to coaching.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you better. Tell us about a formative experience that prompted you to change your relationship with work and how work shows up in your life.
I’m so thrilled to be here again! Addressing this topic is crucial to the future of business and I’m honored to share in this space.
My formative story begins in 2020 (pre-pandemic), January 2nd to be specific. I received a call from my older sister that my nephew had been struck and killed by a car while walking down the road near Huntington Beach, California. Like most people when tragic news such as this is received, our family was in shock, disbelief and denial at how something like this could possibly happen. I distinctly remember the phone call I made to work that day (I was still at my corporate job at that time) to tell them what happened and that I would not be in. Even now, as I sit in my living room writing this piece, my eyes are filled with tears as these memories are not only burned in my mind but forever stored in my body as well.
As I mentioned, I was still working at my corporate job. I was nearing my 14 year anniversary and my life had just been turned upside down, again. For at least the 5 years prior (probably more like 10 if I’m being completely transparent), I was miserable.
I was a respected leader and manager and had a great salary. I had several weeks of paid vacation, medical, dental and optical benefits and a booming 401K that anyone in their early 30’s would be shocked was possible. I had all of the things we’re told to strive for and that we ‘should’ be working toward and every day I felt like my soul was being slowly sucked from my body.
Dramatic? Maybe. True? Absolutely. My nephew being killed was the final straw for me. I had been going through a program to become a certified Holistic Health + Nutrition coach and it was now or never to jump into my new career and entrepreneurship. I thought to myself, I am not guaranteed one more day on this Earth. Neither are my parents, my partner or even my children. How could I continue to wake up every single day and miss out on the life I’d been dreaming of or the lives of my kids?
The money, the benefits, the vacation time and 401k can all be replaced. Time is our most valuable resource. It is the one and only thing money cannot buy. I was no longer willing to waste it.
Harvard Business Review predicts that wellness will become the newest metric employers will use to analyze and to assess their employees’ mental, physical and financial health. How does your organization define wellness, and how does your organization measure wellness?
Wellness is a collective. Wellness is the embodiment of the ‘whole-human’ approach. My education in Holistic Health and Nutrition Coaching (IIN, Institute For Integrative Nutrition) specifically teaches a concept of health combining Primary Food (lifestyle, environment, work, social life etc.) and Secondary Food (the food we put into our bodies). It is this knowledge that health and wellness is not simply ‘watching what you eat’ but the understanding that there are many key players in the overall health and well-being of a person, in this case an employee or team member.
As leaders, it is our responsibility to provide our employees all the resources they need to be successful in their positions. This isn’t just an assistant to share the workload, new stapler or copy machine for the office. This could mean offering a benefits package that includes access to mental health professionals, physical therapists and/or financial coaches. It could mean providing a variety of snacks in the employee break room to suit the needs of your team rather than just a vending machine filled with candy and soda.
Can your employees shed the stress of their work day during a break or lunch hour by participating in a book club, walking club or lunch hour yoga class? Are the other leaders of your company focused on growing and educating the future leaders of your organization? What mentorship programs are available and how are employees being developed for the future?
While the intangible benefits to considering questions like these are infinite, corporations often want to know the tangible results investments like these will generate. Approaching organizational health from a holistic standpoint has immeasurable value. However, since tangible results must be recognized, the health and wellbeing of employees can be measured by: increased productivity, reduction of sick days, fewer workers compensation claims, number of employees ready for promotion, turnover rate and onboarding of new and fresh talent.
Based on your experience or research, how do you correlate and quantify the impact of a well workforce on your organization’s productivity and profitability?
Happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. Typically, happy employees are also well employees. When our employees are happy and well, it creates ‘employee buy-in’. When our employees are invested in the success of the organization, they want to participate and they take pride in the work they produce. These happy and healthy employees are able to generate new ideas, improve the customer experience, decrease turnover and increase revenue.
Even though most leaders have good intentions when it comes to employee wellness, programs that require funding are beholden to business cases like any other initiative. The World Health Organization estimates for every $1 invested into treatment for common mental health disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. That sounds like a great ROI. And, yet many employers struggle to fund wellness programs that seem to come “at the cost of the business.” What advice do you have to offer to other organizations and leaders who feel stuck between intention and impact?
As a general rule, our society is focused on instant gratification. Corporations may be willing to provide benefits to their employees, but expect to see immediate tangible results. Forward thinking leaders understand that these types of programs can take time in order to see the benefits. Spending a few dollars to put a small library of business and leadership books in the break room for example, isn’t going to result in a new client tomorrow. However, it will result in employees that are increasingly motivated to develop themselves, team members that are passionate and invested in the success of the organization as a whole and happy, fulfilled employees that offer the best possible customer experience.
If employers have concerns about making wise investment choices in company wellness benefits, it is a great time to conduct an employee survey! Get your team involved in these decisions. What benefits do they want access to? What wellness initiatives motivate them to be more productive while at work? Not only does this make your employees feel seen, heard and supported, it also allows the company to develop a direct line of communication regarding these wellness initiatives.
Speaking of money matters, a recent Gallup study reveals employees of all generations rank wellbeing as one of their top three employer search criteria. How are you incorporating wellness programs into your talent recruitment and hiring processes?
My business is a solopreneur organization. However, I teach, train and educate on this topic frequently. Using my experience in the corporate world, education and passion for disrupting the traditional approach to leadership, the concepts of including wellness programs into organizations is deeply important to me.
In addition, reminding solopreneurs that they are in fact leaders and just because they aren’t paying employees doesn’t mean they don’t have a team. My VA, accountant and suppliers are all treated as though they are part of my team and I take great care in cultivating the culture and imparting my values within my organization.
In short, be the boss you want to work for 🙂
We’ve all heard of the four-day work week, unlimited PTO, mental health days, and on demand mental health services. What innovative new programs and pilots are you launching to address employee wellness? And, what are you discovering? We would benefit from an example in each of these areas.
I’m so passionate about sharing ideas in this area! There are so many ways companies can take a proactive approach to the wellbeing of their employees. And here’s a tip, don’t over complicate or over think it. Some of these ideas cost nothing to get started!
Here are some ideas and examples of wellness programs organizations can incorporate into their wellness initiative:
- Mental Wellness: Corporate Leadership Training: Developing The Next Generation Of Leaders (I teach in-person or online seminars for organizations that are invested in dismantling the traditional approach to leadership) and Corporate Stress Coach (my favorite is Sarah Alysse at Live Well, Enhance You).
- Emotional Wellness: A dedicated quiet space devoted to reading, meditation or other calming practice.
Live plants in the office improve productivity, purify the air, increase creativity and reduce stress.
- Social Wellness: Book Club, monthly outings or team building exercises (bowling, escape room, mini-golf, cooking class) anything non-work related will do! Even things such as breakroom potlucks get people to come together and enjoy each other’s company (don’t underestimate the power of food!).
- Physical Wellness: Lunch Hour Walking Club, Yoga Class, hang posters with stretches/exercises designed for sedentary employees, bi-weekly wellness newsletter that includes tips for reducing stress and shares company wellness initiatives (include book recommendations, podcast recommendations or a new recipe to try), physical therapist that visits your organization a few times monthly.
- Financial Wellness: Financial Coaching as a benefit, Financial Books + Literature on site.
Do not assume financial literacy is common knowledge. Understanding the importance of earning and maintaining a good credit score or how to make a budget and stick to it are examples of things that may be seen as common knowledge but are not taught in schools. We all have a money story and it starts from our childhoods. Understanding and conquering these money stories are paramount in future financial success.
It cannot be overstated that diversity and inclusivity when selecting authors, trainers, speakers, teachers, leaders and educators is paramount to the success of your business. Not every employee looks the same, has the same access to resources, learns the same way, understands things the same or wants to hear about money from the outdated capitalist systems that tell us that the only approach to financial wellness is to cut expenses, live as frugally as possible and increase savings.
Can you please tell us more about a couple of specific ways workplaces would benefit from investing in your ideas above to improve employee wellness?
- Long term reduction of costs related to injury, sickness and turnover.
- Educate and develop a new wave of leaders for the future of your organization.
- Drive money into the economy (small and large scale).
- Dismantle the outdated (capitalist) approach to business, finance and wealth and rebuild under a new system rooted in equity, diversity, inclusivity, safety and access to resources without the barriers that marginalized groups of people currently face.
How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?
Being a forward thinking leader is a process, a practice. Educate, communicate and hold the other leaders of your organization accountable to these new changes. Be gracious and understanding that this is all a learning process, mistakes and successes are inevitable. A wellness initiative should feel empowering, fulfilling and meaningful. Be open and receptive of feedback and suggestions and willing to uphold healthy boundaries as needed.
Ideas take time to implement. What is one small step every individual, team or organization can take to get started on these ideas — to get well?
Communicate! It’s amazing to have ideas. It’s amazing to implement them. However, it isn’t enough to assume that everyone knows what’s going on. Newsletters, emails, surveys, posters and staff meetings are all no cost opportunities to share your wellness initiative with your team.
What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”
- Physical Wellness Workplace Initiatives: There are so many certified, qualified trainers, coaches, instructors, physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists (you get it) in our communities. The future of the workplace includes visits, seminars, trainings and appointments with these qualified individuals as part of standard operating procedures and/or benefits packages.
- Mental Health Assistance: Employers are being called now more than ever to focus on the mental health of their teams. Mental health days, work from home days, Employee Assistance Programs, access to counselors (on-site, virtually or in benefits packages) and personal leaves of absence are just a few examples that are to be included in this process. It is also worth noting how critical it is to build in policies preventing retaliation toward employees who have utilized these programs.
- Fun At Work: Can we please, normalize not feeling stuck and miserable at work?! 57% of employees say they quit as a result of their managers. This means that The Great Resignation is preventable! Please be the type of leader that attracts people to you rather than repels people from you.
- Wellness Initiative Teams: A team or employee dedicated to developing the wellness initiative for your organization. This person is invested deeply in the health and well-being of the team and understands deeply that the wellness of employees directly impacts the success of the organization.
This is NOT the type of task to add to someone’s existing workload.
5. Onsite Childcare: This does not apply to every employee. However, the amount of stress, time and energy finding safe, reliable childcare requires is extremely taxing on a parent. There are people that are being cut out of opportunities completely due to lack of access to childcare.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?
Investing in the health and wellness of our teams means that we are creating and developing healthy human beings to bring about change in our organizations, our communities and our world. We are developing the next generation of leaders in an entirely new and much needed system. There is only good in that!
Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?
Email- [email protected]
Email list- https://www.angethompson.net/anges5things
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Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.