Encouraging healthy employees

Life is hard enough without making it any harder, right? Here are six ways to make employees’ work lives that little bit easier and more productive.

  1. Let them work from home once in a while. The longer the commute, the more stressful it is. Long commutes are associated with higher divorce rates, higher weight, reduced fitness, all predictors of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. None of which encourages productivity.
  2. Make sure peoples’ workstations and chairs are set up ergonomically to reduce stress and strain on the joints, which leads to back pain and other problems.
  3. Most of us sit for more hours a day than we sleep and sitting for long periods can lead to some cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and blood clots. So encourage walking meetings to get the blood circulating and even encourage creativity.
  4. Budget allowing, set up a few standing work stations. Standing is healthier than sitting because it takes more energy and gets your internal organs working.
  5. Be a caring boss. Know what makes each employee tick and assign work to their areas of interest. Support people with honest, helpful feedback, both constructive and positive. Make sure everyone knows how their work contributes to the team as a whole and to the organisation.
  6. Don’t encourage the ‘unpaid overtime syndrome’. No one should feel compelled to put in extra hours as a way of showing their commitment to their job.

Discussion questions

Which of these ideas can you put to use right now? What other tips do you have for making employees’ working lives easier and more productive?

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Does telecommuting kill creativity and teamwork?

I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure. For me, indecisiveness begins when I can see both sides of an issue.

Take the working from home bru-ha-ha that’s erupted since iconic tech company, Yahoo, announced ‘no more working from home’. The stated reason was that working from home is counterproductive, limits collaboration and communication and lowers quality and speed. People need the impromptu ‘water cooler meetings’ to bounce ideas off each other and spark new ideas.

This flies in the face of research showing that productivity increases for teleworkers, telecommuting is good for the environment because it saves so much petrol and carbon emissions and so on. (See pages 16 -18 of the text for more information on the benefits of woking from home.)

So which is it? Telecommuting is good? Or telecommuting is bad?

Here’s what I think. Both statements are true — in their way. Individual contributors whose roles allow it can productively work from home. Those whose work depends on working closely with others, for example creative teams, are probably better working together, at least some of the time.

Questions for discussion

What do you think? Does working from home increase productivity, or inhibit collaboration? 

Office ergonomics

Sitting correctly affects your productivity as well as your appearance and fatigue levels, not to mention pain levels. It also wards off back and other problems down the track.

Here are three sites that offer good information:

  1. This also has good information on lighting, breaks and so on and is good for helping people set up a home office.
  2. This shows you exactly how you should sit at your computer.
  3. This shows you four easy exercises you can do while seated at your desk, with an interesting twist that they’re based on yoga (and Pilates and any other exercise form, I suspect!) But they work, and that’s the main thing.

Discussion questions

How do your office ergonomics stack up? Have your team members set up their work stations correctly? What about their home offices, if they ever work from home?