Having a sudden cardiac arrest was a life changing event. It changed the course of my career, and gave me perspective on how I wanted to live my life. Coming from the corporate world, there was a certain way things were done, and I was used to moving at a certain pace. Being forced to slow down during my recovery and re-learn things that are easily taken for granted was eye-opening in many ways.

I used to be worried about the small stuff, at work and at home. I’d wake up in the middle of the night sweating from anxiety about tasks I’d forgotten to complete or needed to make sure were done right.

Since recovering, I’ve left my full-time corporate job, started Giftgowns, an e-commerce apparel company, making really fun and practical hospital gowns, and I now sit on Canadian health care boards. I always endeavour to learn and grow, and help others learn and grow as well. So, if you’re in a management role or if you own your own business, and you want to support your team and better practice work-life integration, here are a few tips for you.

Be mindful about your “tone from the top”

Being aware of how you communicate with your employees is crucial in maintaining a positive workplace. If you’re critical of your employees and are constantly short with them, then be prepared for that tone to permeate throughout your organization, as well as the stress associated with that. Whereas, if you treat your employees with patience and kindness, that will be the tone of your workplace, and folks will enjoy their employment a lot more. 

Prioritize your, and your employee’s health

Without you, or your employees, you wouldn’t be running a business! Because of this it’s beyond important to prioritize your own health, as well as help your employees prioritize their own health. A great way to do this is to recognize, and practice, the importance of downtime and vacation. 

Daily work stress mounts up over time and takes a toll on our health. By setting an example of going on vacation, your employees will feel comfortable doing the same. If no one on your team takes vacation, no one will feel comfortable going on vacation which results in a lot of tired, burnt out people who aren’t as productive and who aren’t enjoying coming to work.

Set expectations about emails

Be sure to set the expectation of when “on hours” and “off hours” are. My employees know that if I email them at 6 a.m., they’re not expected to email me back as soon as they wake up, they can email me when they get in the office. If you know that you’re going to be sending emails at odd hours, have a conversation with your employees beforehand setting expectations. 

There may be tradeoffs you’re going to have to make if you want them to always be available, but don’t sacrifice your, and your employee’s health for your bottom line. Just because my business was inspired by my hospital visit, doesn’t mean you should end up in one. 

Be flexible

If you expect your employees to always be in the office from 9-5 (or longer hours), and always accessible via phone or email, you probably want to be more flexible. While I like my employees to be in the office because it’s more collaborative and easier to get things done quickly, if they need to work from home for a day, or need flexibility in their schedules because of appointments, I’m more than open to it. It’s important, and helps keep my employees happy, healthy and productive when they’re in the office! 

Whether that’s a doctor’s appointment, a therapy appointment, or a plumber coming to the house, it’s crucial to allow for work life integration. Your employees and bottom line will thank you.

My time in the hospital gave me the idea to start a business, and help put me on a different path, and I’m very lucky that it turned out that way. However, if we’re not practicing work-life integration, we run the risk of ending up in the hospital because of stress and lack of balance and personal fulfillment. Using these tips might seem simplistic, but, give them a try. They could help you and your employees more than you know.