Business Growth Productivity Culture

The Impact of Health and Wellbeing on Workplace Productivity

alice
Written by Alice Fitzsimons
on 04 Sep 2019

Most know health and wellbeing impacts workplace productivity. Still, a lot of people don’t fully understand the full impact it can have on their lives. The good news is stress and anxiety levels can be decreased, potentially even reaping rewards professionally as well as personally.

As technology advances, people have seen a lot of changes in their work lives. With increased automation of technology, we’ve seen individuals work much more autonomously, more hours and taking on increased responsibilities.

This can often mean spending more time at work and in the office. Which then has the potential for employees to relax their attitudes towards health and wellbeing in their lives.

With more gyms opening up on what feels like every corner, health-conscious influencers prominent over social media and superfoods trending more than ever (smashed avo on toast for example), it’s easy to think that we’re culturally on a path of greater health and wellbeing which spreads to all parts of our lives.

Yet, we’re seeing more employees nationally take time off for mental health reasons as a result of feeling overworked.

It’s this reason (among others) that I’m focused on the impact of health and wellbeing on workplace productivity. Although many don’t realise it, health and wellbeing can and does have a massive impact on happiness as well as workplace productivity.

In this article I’ll discuss how mindfulness, diet, hydration, exercise, sleep, breaks and mood, can all impact on workplace productivity.

Note: Before we begin and to make sure nothing is lost in this article, when I say health and wellbeing, I mean both an individual’s physical and mental health and happiness.

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Exercise

Aerobic exercise is thought to grow the brain’s hippocampus, the region responsible for memory. Therefore it is thought that regular aerobic exercise may boost your memory. It is also thought that exercise may help boost focus, helping people to ignore distractions and multitask. In addition, some studies have shown that exercise may assist with creative thinking.

Regular exercise also helps reduce stress, boost mood and improve overall mental health which all affect workplace productivity and the relationships between employees.

Office-Health-employees-on-pilates-balls

Hydration

Hydration is key to optimum mental function. Studies show that mild dehydration can hurt both physical and mental performance.

Depending on where you look you will find different suggestions on daily fluid intake. As a general guide when thinking about how much water to drink, I believe in aiming for 8 glasses of water (or herbal non-caffeinated tea) per day. This count would increase on particularly hot days or if partaking in physical activity.

As a general rule, waiting until you are thirsty is not enough. It’s because by that stage you are already dehydrated.

As a result of a lack of water intake, studies have shown cognitive impairment. You could see decreased short term memory, attention, concentration, information processing and so on, as a result of dehydration above 2% body mass loss.

Diet

The link between diet and brain health has long since been established. Incorporating certain foods into your diet can improve brain health which may increase cognitive performance.

Amongst these foods are green leafy vegetables (for example, kale, broccoli and spinach), fatty fish (such as salmon and tuna), berries, nuts and probiotics. In addition, caffeinated tea and coffee have been shown to boost brainpower. In a recent study, higher caffeine consumption led to better scores on mental function tests.

READ: How to Improve Productivity at Work With Spotify Playlists

Mindfulness

Incorporating mindfulness into your workday can lead to massive improvements in performance. Mindfulness is present-centered attention and awareness and originates in Buddhist philosophy.

In summary, mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing purely on the present while fully accepting any thoughts, feelings or bodily sensations without judging or getting involved in them. By tuning out thoughts or feelings that do not relate to the present moment, this enables you to more fully focus on the task at hand, therefore improving productivity. For further information click here.

Sleep

Sleep deprivation has been shown to cause a rapid decline in mental performance, and negatively affect workplace productivity. The recommended amount of sleep is 8 hours, though many people receive far less.

Adequate sleep is shown to limit procrastination and enhance creativity and performance. It is also shown to increase impulse control, problem-solving skills, information retention and focus. Well-rested employees also generally have better mood and morale, which can improve relationships with co-workers.

Whereas a lack of sleep can lead to health issues which results in time taken off work. For all these reasons, getting a good night’s sleep is critical. For tips on improving the quality of your sleep, click here.

person working on laptop with plants

Mood

Mood has a dramatic impact on our workplace productivity, decision-making and stress levels. If you are happy and relaxed, you generally think more positively and are more focused on the task at hand. An important point to note is that generally the way you start your day and the way you feel in the morning has a lot to do with setting up your mood for the rest of the day.

There are a few things you can do to improve this, for example, taking the time to exercise, relax and unwind at the end of a hard day’s work in preparation for the following day. If you don’t allow time for this, any built-up stress from your workday won’t be released and may flow on to tomorrow.

Furthermore, taking a few moments to set yourself up for a positive day. Small things like having a chat to your barista, a few minutes playing with your pets or doing a quick ten-minute meditation before work can all help set yourself up for a good mood and better day. Therefore enhancing your workplace productivity and your relationships with other employees.

Breaks

While many people feel they don’t have time to take breaks during their workday, not taking a break can hinder creativity and productivity. Even a couple of ten-minute breaks during the day can do wonders for brain power and sometimes help you figure your way through a complex problem you were ‘stuck’ on. Breaks are also an effective form of stress relief and can boost mood which in turn (as we covered earlier) can further improve productivity.

In Summary

In summary, employee health and wellbeing have a massive impact on their workplace productivity. There are a few simple things you can do to improve this, from getting a good night’s sleep, following a healthy diet, exercising regularly and more.

Not only are these actions great for improving brain power and productivity, they are also great ways to improve your mental health and overall happiness! Everyone does slip up now and again and find themselves not taking a break, rushing around and having limited time to exercise… myself included. But it’s important to set yourself up and give yourself the best chance at success.

I strongly encourage everyone to incorporate some or all of these strategies into their daily lives and to assess the numerous benefits. In doing so, I’m sure that you’ll see some great mental and physical health benefits, in addition to increased workplace productivity.

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