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No Einstein, it’s simple: Healthy lifestyle plus positive thinking equals productivity

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Benedict Lim makes a passionate call to all leaders to maintain both the physical and mental wellbeing of your employees in order to maximise returns on skills and technology upgrading.

For many years, companies have been asking themselves the question of what to do to increase their employees’ and company’s productivity. They have been sourcing a plethora of courses for employees, upgrading their technologies and sometimes, restructuring organisational frameworks.

While these are vital changes to the company, most of the time they overlook the most important and fundamental solution – promoting the wellbeing of their employees. Without positive and willing workers, we would not be able to maximise the machinery and the courses. Even worse, without healthy present workers, who would be able to attend the training and operate the technologies?

This is a call to all leaders to take some time out and listen to my humble proposal on bringing back the basics – maintaining the wellbeing of your workers. Both the physical and mental wellbeing of your workers will determine how effective the other strategies to improve productivity will be.

Mental illness and stress: The unseen culprits

The first aspect that we usually neglect is mental wellness of our employees. Mental illnesses are detrimental to our worker’s productivity and our businesses. Despite that, most of us choose to ignore and not seek professional help.

What companies can do is to provide adequate support for their employees. Providing mental wellness to employees includes giving adequate support for your employees when they are faced with drastic changes or a traumatic experience so it does not aggravate into severe mental illness.

Managers and colleagues need to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental illness so that employees can seek help and get treated before it gets worse. Mental health awareness campaigns can be conducted in the workplace to empower people to take note.

Organisational leaders should also have the resources readily available for affected individuals to be directed to appropriate care.

Positive psychology is more than just positive emotions and feeling happy, it is also about being engaged, as well as having meaning, achievement and positive relationships in our lives.

Mental illness can distract employees and lead them to skip work. Stress is another culprit of poor mental health that needs attention and to be addressed for. It is vital to keep your workplace stress-free. One in four adults have called in sick due to the high stress faced at work. Stress also causes many physical illnesses.

It is important for employees to know how to manage stress effectively and build resilience. Once your workers are empowered to manage their stress effectively, they will have the ability to still be productive under highly stressed circumstances.

Other than ridding our workplaces of mental illness and stress, it is important that we strengthen mental wellbeing in the workplace actively.

As Martin Seligman, an avid positive psychologist, has posited in his theory of wellbeing, positive psychology is more than just positive emotions and feeling happy, it is also about being engaged, as well as having meaning, achievement and positive relationships in our lives.

This wellbeing can be raised through simple daily exercises like spontaneously being kind. Positive thinking takes practice and constant reminders to form a habit. Therefore, it is important to encourage your workers to practice positivity in the form of positive thinking, gratitude and smiles.

Company events or workshops can both relieve stress and give your employees opportunities to learn coping skills and positive thinking. By practising positive thinking, employees will be happier and thus, it will increase their engagement at work and their productivity.

With higher engagement at work, it will reduce turnover rates as workers are more loyal and committed to their company. Moreover, positivity can also improve empathy at work which is vital for teamwork and communication between co-workers. Happy workers are also more open to courses and changes in the organisations which will allow them to maximise the effectiveness these courses.

A healthy diet and enough sleep will lead to better concentration and cognitive abilities.

Our physical and mental wellbeing are dependent on each other – if our physical state is good, our mental health will reap wellness and vice versa. Therefore, it is important to promote our physical wellbeing too.

Promoting physical wellbeing can sound like a no-brainer but it takes effort and entails many benefits. Introducing healthy lifestyle habits through workshops on exercising, eating right and sleeping enough or weekly fruits distribution will encourage healthy lifestyles.

A healthy diet and enough sleep will lead to better concentration and cognitive abilities. Thus, it will allow employees to focus better at work. When your employees are physically healthy, they will take less medical leave and therefore, there will be more workdays and more work done.

This will also lead to lesser medical costs incurred. Furthermore, with better concentration at work, those courses for skills upgrading will also be maximised.

To all my organisational leaders out there, while piling our employees with courses after courses or advancing our technologies can help with our productivity technically, I encourage and remind all of you to also consider the physical and mental wellness of your employees.

Their wellbeing is the first step for your investment in skills upgrading or technology upgrading to be maximised and take effect. Remember, it is as simple as that equation – no Einstein.


The author, Benedict Lim, is the CEO & Chief Psychologist of iGROW, an award winning psychological consultancy specialising in leadership, culture and engagement. Together with Maria Plengsangtip, Partner and Consultant Psychologist at iGROW, he will be collaborating with Human Resources Online to deliver an online course on Managing Mental Health & Wellbeing in the Workplace.

To register or find out more, write to Heather Ang at heathera@humanresourcesonline.net.

Photo / StockUnlimited

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