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5 Team Performance Insights That All CEOs Need To Know

Putting people first: The simple answer to a complex problem. PUSH was among those leading the discussion on how we can work better at the recent Getahead Festival in London.

The Getahead Festival, which took place on Friday 14 June in London, is on a mission to help a billion people positively impact their lives in the next 25 years. This absolutely chimes with PUSH’s objective: “To make sure that no one ever feels like they are just existing, or that they dread work”, so we were delighted to be Getahead Festival’s official Work Better partner this year.

We assembled a panel of some of the best minds across mental health and wellbeing, people management, diversity and inclusion and technology to answer an extremely important and pressing question: How Do We Work Better?

We are working more hours than ever but UK productivity continues to lag behind that of the other G7 nations. The country has also seen a 40 per cent increase in mental ill-health over the past 20 years which undoubtedly has an impact in areas such as absenteeism and performance. The figures show that something clearly isn’t working and this situation cannot prevail much longer.

Our panel put forward a vast range of views pertinent to this discussion, including: is tech slowing us down rather than speeding us up?; are we using the right language around mental health?; and would working less hours actually make us more productive?

We came to a number of conclusions but there was one overriding message: putting people first makes them happier and more productive. Based on our discussions, we’ve put together 5 team performance insights that all CEOs need to know to ensure their teams work better.

 

  1. Use Culture To Turn Human Vulnerability Into Strength

Culture has moved up the corporate agenda but few CEOs have truly grasped the important part it can play in keeping workforces healthy and happy as well as more productive. We need to create inclusive, diverse, nurturing and supportive company cultures that make people want to come to work and do their jobs well.

A positive and open culture also means that if they do feel under pressure at work, or have external factors placing a strain on them, they won’t feel this is seen as a weakness. They are more likely to tell their boss which gives everyone options and the chance to improve the situation rather than make it worse.

The right culture can help to turn human vulnerabilities into a positive because it enables us all to learn from experience and adversity and push forward rather than fall back.

 

  1. Make Technology An Enabler 

We’ve allowed technology to create an out-of-control, always-on, 24/7 workplace that is detrimental to our wellbeing and a drain on time and energy. On average we send 200 emails a day and download six times’ more information than we did years ago. How can this equal efficiency and increased productivity? And if we haven’t even learned to manage our inboxes effectively, what hope is there when technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotics enter the workforce, bringing more data and information?

We need to take back control of technology and use it as it was originally intended: as an enabler that frees up employees to add more value at work and therefore feel more fulfilled. This means instead of mapping old ways of working onto new tech, flip the approach, and consider how a  new system or piece of software can create a new, better way of working.

 

  1. Learn From Mother Nature And Build An Ecosystem

In nature, an ecosystem is a community of organisms and their environment which all have a relationship with each other (often a complex one). A tree sends distress signals when it experiences disease or drought and in turn, surrounding trees send water and nutrients via their network of roots. They work together as a single system and their individual actions and interactions help them to survive and thrive. In the same way, teams of people in the workplace benefit from being part of an ecosystem.

Working together as a whole, the ecosystem can help to create an environment in which everyone can flourish. Such an approach makes individuals feel like they are contributing and collaborating to something bigger as well as being supported to achieve their own goals. It encourages them to not only be themselves but also to bring their whole selves to work in the ecosystem. This has an extremely positive impact on both wellness and productivity.

In short, the value of an ecosystem in terms of improved performance and can be worth far more than the sum of its parts.

 

  1. Innovate And Challenge Workplace Norms Like The 9-5

The pressure on day-to-day operations mean that many leaders find it difficult to think differently about how they structure the workplace and the working day. As a consequence, although far more people are working remotely or at home, most of us remain largely in the confines of a 9-5, five days a week role.

Those who have invested time in re-imagining the workplace have seen it pay off though. For instance, one of the PUSH panel speakers found that moving to a four-day week has increased engagement at work and has meant people have the time to use their weekends for achieving goals outside of work. This is hugely fulfilling personally and has a positive impact on mental health. It also means they return to the workplace after the weekend feeling more energised to do their job.

Allowing individuals more control over their working hours can also provide wellness and performance benefits. Working in the evening may better suit an individual for a raft of reasons. Any change needs to be well thought through though. If you know someone is working non-standard hours, managers can’t expect them to be available at other times any more than they would a 9-5 worker to be available for a call in the evening.

 

  1. Take Responsibility For Your Individual Impact 

Decision-makers undeniably influence an organisation, but what can be overlooked is simply that each person makes a difference. “Leadership is not top down. It’s within us all as individuals.” one of the PUSH panelists stated. 

How then, do you become an everyday leader and take responsibility for your impact on the team? First, it’s important to understand that leadership always starts with leading yourself first, and to lead yourself, you must learn how best to do so. Key questions you could ask are: when are you your most efficient? Do you spend your energy in the right places? What holds you back? How can you overcome your challenges? How much attention do you pay to crafting your skill set? When you master leading yourself, confidence follows. 

The second layer, is realising that how you feel has a direct impact on the way you work, the way those around you feel and your daily interactions. By taking agency over which version of yourself you bring to work everyday, you can be empowered to make decisions and take the lead. It’s time to step into your influence. 

 

Getting your team to work at their best is a challenge all CEOs face. There’s no one-size-fits-all or easy route to putting your people first, but we can help. Get in touch to talk about how together, we can improve the performance of your team.

 

Women with virtual reality headset

What Impact Will Digital Transformation Have On Employee Wellness?

PUSH has been talking technology this week. As part of National Coding Week, PUSH coach and technology advisor Chris Weston has been running some sessions with clients on the future of code, which has explored how this will impact the way we do business.

 

As we all know, IT is great when it works but can bring frustration and added stress when it doesn’t. Like it or not, technology is going to play a bigger not smaller part in most of our working lives in the future though.

 

A study from the World Economic Forum (WEF) released this week says the world is going through a workplace revolution that is bringing a “seismic shift” in the way humans work alongside machines and algorithms.

 

The Forum’s The Future of Jobs 2018 study also forecasts that by 2025 machines will perform more current work tasks than humans, compared to 71 per cent being performed by humans today. It adds that the ‘robot revolution’ will also create 58 million net new jobs in the next five years and 133 million new roles in place of 75 million that will be displaced between now and 2022.

 

WEF founder and executive chairman, Klaus Schwab, says it is critical that businesses take an active role in supporting their existing workforces through reskilling and upskilling and describes the workforce transformation as “the key challenge of our time”. And we can’t argue with that.

 

There is no doubt that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change how we work and what we do and the digital transformation has already begun in many organisations. Alongside the discussion on how technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning can be implemented to benefit businesses in terms of productivity and bottom line, there needs to be another discussion though. What impact will automation and technology have on the wellbeing of employees?

 

If implemented well, it should remove the routine and transactional from their roles and make their working lives more interesting and satisfying. It should help them work smarter rather than harder and liberate them physically and mentally to contribute more to their roles.

 

As a company working in the wellness space, we’ve already seen too many examples of the opposite happening. In many organisations, the 24/7, always-on world is actually extending the working day beyond 9-5 and making individuals feel they have to be in the office longer. Meanwhile, smartphones and inboxes also mean employees are too readily available outside of working hours making it impossible for them to switch off.

 

Added to this, the feeling of having to keep up with the pace of technology in order to do a job properly increases stress and anxiety. Technological development isn’t going to slow up so such feelings are likely to intensify. If we don’t look out, technology will breed a dangerous culture of presenteeism both inside and outside the office.

 

Employers also need to recognise the stress associated with upskilling. PUSH has observed resistance from long-serving employees and older generations in some client companies and this is understandable. The remaining Baby Boomers and Gen X have been in the world of work a long time, carved out their career and any change can be terrifying. Millennials are digital natives with less to lose but they are also likely to face regular skills upgrades as companies advance their digital transformation strategies over the coming years.

 

One of PUSH’s aims is to help arm employees with the tools they need to adapt to the changes they face working in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This includes helping them to develop a growth mindset that will remove the fear and therefore the stress of change and enable them to use technology to make their working lives easier.

 

We are also advising organisations what needs to happen at senior leadership level. Leaders must manage such change sensitively and be mindful of the angst major transformation programmes can bring in the workforce. They must involve employees in the company’s future vision as well as the practical implementation of new technology. If employees feel the change is ‘being done to them’, they will feel a loss of control, which can trigger stress.

 

HR must step up to the plate and understand the implications of new technology on employees rather than absolve themselves of responsibility of it. IT is no longer just the preserve of the IT department.

 

Above all, in increasingly automated workplaces, leaders must remember that it is people who remain responsible for employee wellness. Computers and robots do not have people and management skills and, as far as we know, there still isn’t an algorithm for empathy.

 

Is your organisation impacted by the effects of digital transformation? Are you noticing the direct impact on your people? Here at PUSH we encourage an open dialogue about the effects of technology and digital on the health of both our businesses and the people within them. Please get in touch to see how we can support your team. 

Man with thumbs up sign

Wellness Programmes: Does This Stuff Really Work?

5 Ways Wellness Programmes Go Way Beyond ‘Just Wellbeing’

Does this stuff really work? Don’t people just go along to one session, make a change for a fortnight and then go back to what they did in the first place? We get asked this question a lot.

In short, the answer is simply that an effective workplace wellness programmes can not only impact the individual, but they can have real impact throughout the organisation, delivering mutual benefit to people and the wider business performance.

Let us explain…

 

  1. Make every session practical, useful and engaging

 

If you ensure every session has the combination of these elements then how can it not work?

 

Practical: Of, course there should be theory, stats and science to prove a point, but all activities need to be grounded in real-life stuff so that you can make changes as soon as you leave.

 

Useful: It helps if the folks delivering the sessions come from corporate backgrounds. It means they get it and it’s relevant. Don’t mistake wellbeing for airy-fairy. This is the stuff you need.

 

Engaging: A huge part of ‘being well’ is simply bringing joy to your heart. So the experience itself has to be fun. That’s how you remember stuff and, moreover, how you create proper connections in the room.

Fortunately, practical, useful and engaging is PUSH’s mantra. So, don’t worry – we’ve got it.

 

 

  1. Develop processes and ways of working, to ensure that the company is ‘well’ too

 

PUSH create companies with productive and happy cultures. How do you do that? Well, not just with yoga in a boardroom. Nor free food or going home early on a Friday – nice as they are. Good culture recognises that the world we’re living in is changing at a relentless and demanding pace. Teamed with traditional corporate processes, it’s the employee in the middle that feels the pain. It’s why stress and exhaustion are on the rise.

 

Good culture faces this head on and doesn’t ignore it thinking it will go away. It makes a change to look after its people so that they can bring their best to work and, consequently, do their best work.

How do you make those changes? First of all, you need to understand what’s going on with the team and make changes to your culture which include vision and values setting; tackling behavioural change, ways of working and updating processes that work in this new world.

 

Understand your team’s purpose and principles and let them guide you. If you focus on your people, the product and money follow and, as a consequence, team engagement and performance improve.

 

  1. Create authentic, open communities

 

We all know it: increase engagement in the workplace and your people are more likely to stay with you. However, how do you actually do that?

 

As a start, we need to bring people together more and simply create more relationships. We were stunned when we started working with a client recently that in a smallish company, less than half the population didn’t know each other. How on earth can you foster a positive environment in that situation – let alone create good, productive business?

 

You must enable space and opportunities where people can do stuff that isn’t just grounded in business transactions. Let the team be more open – vulnerability is not a weakness. It lies at the heart of growth. When people feel genuinely comfortable, they can fail as well as succeed and that is where the learning comes from and the growth happens.

 

And that what programmes like this provide – the opportunity for people to get together when it’s not in the office or in the pub, half-cut. Be it coaching, learning, exercising or eating these are good connections which help people to talk properly and openly. And that’s when the magic happens.

 

  1. Understand the importance of taking a break

We’re in a culture of more. And a culture of busy. So, if we just do more and are busy, then we’re doing okay, yeah?

 

Well actually no. We treat ourselves like the computers that we use and just expect ourselves to plug in and keep going. But, here’s the thing, we’re not computers, we’re humans and, critically, we need to rest and re-energise. And, if we don’t, we’re going to break. Or certainly not perform as well.

Think about it – have you ever heard of an athlete not having a rest day?

 

The value of taking a break and getting involved with a session means that you can come back to the task you were working on with more energy and focus. That break can be a walk, food, a meditation or maybe even an inspiring talk or Beyonce dance class. Wellness content isn’t ‘another thing on your to-do list’ it makes every other thing on your to do list so much easier!

 

  1. ROI – measure the impact

How do you measure it or, indeed, how do you know if it’s working?

 

We believe three measures provide the perfect solution for understanding ROI:

Feedback to ensure the team is learning and enjoying the content and proving that the talent is simply world class. Shifts in engagement metrics. Using both quantitative and qualitative research, we measure how the team is delivering against a series of measures including their resilience, motivation, communication and energy before the programme begins. We also ask how they feel about their team and company culture. Then, we measure it, again, after the programme has run to understand the impact it’s had.

 

Finally, after longer periods of time, we measure the impact on more tangible business metrics – like improvements in sales or decreases in attrition rates or sickness days. Through this, we know that we have saved one client £1.5m in recruitment fees and helped another maintain sales figures throughout a merger (when the company they were merging with missed targets by 15%).

 

So, to summarise, emphatically yes, this stuff does really work. And we prove it time and again with brilliant programmes that you and your team will genuinely love and, more importantly, work.

 

Read more about our work with Oath and Sainsbury’s and get in touch to talk to us about creating a bespoke programme for your organisation.

Photo of Ruby Wax

A Mindful Solution To The Modern Stress Epidemic With Ruby Wax

“It’s basically now survival of the wisest not survival of the fittest”

 

The wonderful Ruby Wax joined the PUSH team for Mental Health Awareness week to deliver a hilarious and insightful talk for our clients over at Havas. Following her hugely successful career with BBC television as an interviewer and comedian, Ruby turned her attention to the study of psychotherapy and neuroscience, graduating from Oxford University in 2013 with a Masters’ degree in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy.

 

We welcome this collaboration because Ruby offers a down to earth, practical, funny and, ultimately, digestible insight into mental health and mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques. Her trailblazing work in challenging perceptions of mental health issues synergizes with our philosophy at PUSH. We’re looking forward to utilizing her wealth of experience and knowledge to help our clients.

 

So, what did Ruby have to say about our relationship with stress and what’s the antidote?

 

Stress hasn’t changed. Our relationship to it has

 

Back in the day, no one died of stress, more likely we died of bad teeth or a spike to the head. In fact we welcomed stress, it quite literally kept us alive and out of danger.  Caveman confronted with saber-toothed tiger equals distress signals to the brain and an activated sympathetic nervous system, pinging them into ‘fight or flight’ mode. Cortisol and adrenaline were released, the heart rate increased, blood pressure and blood sugar rose and – boom – they were given a temporary burst of energy and strength to get the hell out of there.  

 

Fast forward to today and our lives are very different. No more saber-toothed tigers but instead we have difficult clients, pitch presentations and deadlines but we have exactly the same brain!

 

It’s the sheer volume that is the real problem. The constant triggering with little time for respite or recovery results in chronic stress and this is a major factor contributing to mental and other health issues.

 

“The only way to break out of this frenzy of self-loathing is somehow to lower the stress levels so the body can get back to its baseline state, with everything in balance. When you manage to reduce the level of stress, you shift into your opposite system, the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers your heartbeat and your blood pressure and reroutes energy back into the brain and organs.”

 

“Mindfulness is associated with increased parasympathetic activity and decreased sympathetic activity…so, really, what I’ve been yapping on about is that by learning to emotionally regulate ourselves through mindfulness practice, we’re rerouting our more primitive actions to the higher brain”

 

Technology widens the stress network

 

We invented computers to make our lives easier so we could have more fun and let the computers do all the work. Now we are all pretty sure that computers will get the last laugh.

 

“In the future computer robots will put our poor mortal human heads in snow globes and give it to each other for Christmas”.

 

Can anyone say their lives have been simplified by this growing interconnectivity?  

 

The ‘always on’ mode that technology facilitates adds a layer of virtual stress that simply didn’t exist in the past. Add to that the proven addictive quality of the various social channels, apps and devices we are all enthralled with and it creates a perfect storm for triggering mental health problems. Memory, concentration and focus are the first casualties.  

 

“…with the advent of digital advertising, we’re being manipulated every second, day and night. We are living in an ‘attention economy’, where admen/women making a living by knowing how to turn our precious commodity – our attention – into hard cash”

 

You are wherever your mind is

 

We are all striving for the present moment. We spend time and money investing in luxury holidays, the expensive wine and other material acquisitions and yet are fundamentally unfulfilled. We crave it and yet all too often miss the moment because our minds are elsewhere. While you may physically be on a beautiful sandy beach with a cocktail in hand, if your mind is revisiting the people, politics and pressure of office life you are wasting your annual leave.  

 

“Most of us spend 50 per cent of our lives mind-wandering; sometimes we have nice thoughts but, mostly they’re negative: rehashing, worrying about that that have or haven’t happened. I figure I’ve missed enough of my life; I don’t want to miss anymore. I practice mindfulness so I can have a front row seat to watch my life with no intervals. You can take as many selfies as you want in front of a chocolate brownie, but nothing compares to that firecracker going off inside, blasting our pure pleasure dust, when you’ve got that brownie in your mouth. We live for the moment, but no one tells us how to get there. Mindfulness trains you to stop and smell the roses”

 

So, what can we all do? Ruby tells us,

 

“Someone wise once said, you can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf them “

 

“Current research shows that, with the practice of mindfulness, we can change the inner landscape of our brains to improve, among other things, the immune system, and resistance to depression, and to lower the risk of heart disease and enhance wellbeing. The research shows that it also gains positive results in helping us to manage our feelings and be able to take charge.”

 

“Sometimes when I’m practising mindfulness, a fantastic idea bubbles out of the darkness to the surface and I sit there like an insane person, laughing out loud. As soon as I’m done, I grab a pen to get it down fast before it sinks back into the murk. Mindfulness isn’t about sitting like a dead, frozen fish, you’re there observing your thoughts, and with time it should become easier to discriminate between which thoughts are winners and which and dross to be flushed out on arrival.”

 

We’re so incredibly excited about this partnership and have a lot of plans in place. Watch this space for how this partnership will unfold next!

 

Ruby Wax explains more about how mindfulness and cognitive therapy gives us a chance to manage our stress in her books, ‘A mindfulness guide for the frazzled’ and ‘How to be Human. Talk to us about mindful brain training for your company – get in touch.

A clock on a wall

Manage Your Energy Not Your Time

In our 24×7, 365 day always-on world, some of us could do with another hour a day or another day each week. Our lives are run by online calendars, some of which are managed and populated by others. The daily management of our To Do list is an item on that same list.

 

While we are bound by the forward arrow of time, the actual passage of time is subjective. A busy weekend with friends can zoom by, with Monday coming around all too soon. If your plane is delayed on the way home from holiday, and you have run out of things to read, time seems to drag on interminably.

 

There is a key to jumping off the temporal merry-go-round and taking time back under your control. The key is to learn how to manage your energy.

 

Beings of Energy

We are energetic beings. When we enter a room, we can ‘feel’ if the atmosphere is tense or welcoming. We ‘know’ if we have made a good or bad decision.

 

The reason for this is that not all thoughts emanate from our brain. Our brain is both a generator and receiver of thought energies. Our internal dialogue and commentary is indeed mostly generated in the outer cortex of the brain. We hardly stop to think though that, if someone is doing the talking in our head, who exactly is doing the listening?

 

Our verbal thought forms can leak out through our mouths and we can change that atmosphere in a room just by what we say. We can inspire others to be creative or incite people towards negative thoughts and actions. So the energy from our thoughts can easily become a time saver or time waster. Our thought energies alter the energies of others as do even words like these written on a page or on screen.

 

There are two other types of thought energy that the brain receives. Both are silent and somewhat ethereal.

 

The first percolate up from the neurology around our gut and heart. It is our heart not our head that tells us if we love, loathe or merely like something. Our gut tells us if we should say yes or no. Both centres do not speak in language though but only in feelings, as they are primitive, yet wise, second and third brains.

 

They are also great time savers as when we get the energies of our head, heart and gut in alignment, we rarely put a foot wrong. Bizarrely too, they operate a few seconds ahead of our brains and should always be trusted and consulted.

 

Future Memories

The second type of thought energy that our brain can receive is the light bulb or aha moment. They arrive when we are least expecting them, sometimes when in the shower or when out walking. In less than a second, we can get a whole fully formed idea. If we get one in the middle of the night, we can be compelled to get up and act upon it.

 

One way to envisage these types of thought form is that they are ‘future memories’ or thoughts that pop back in time from a future version of us. When we think of them like this, it opens the door to a new type of dialogue which can be a great time saver.

 

If we are stuck on a creative problem, or need help with a marketing idea for example, we can just ask our future self for a sign or some guidance. This costs nothing to try and within just a few days, or even hours, you will be pleasantly surprised at what turns up, out of the blue.

 

Mindful Timeful and Kindful

So when you realise that thoughts have energy and come from a variety of sources, it pays great dividends to become mindful of them. While this might seem somewhat onerous and that something else has been added to your To Do list, the key to doing this is simple.

 

All you have to do is to start each day by treating yourself to 10 or so minutes of Me Time in meditation. Meditation is not about having no thoughts at all but in helping us form a new relationship with our thoughts.

 

When we become more mindful of our thoughts we can begin to recognise and acknowledge their sources and signature. We also begin to appreciate their internal and external impact. By tuning in and being more selective about the thoughts we do want, it quickly generates more time for us as we start to waste less time on so-called negative thoughts and patterns.

 

So mindfulness leads to what I call the state of timefulness.

 

When we have more time on our hands, we have more time to be kind and thoughtful to ourselves and others. You quickly find that you then save even more time when the world is kind back to you. A quiet and calm mind allows us to be better able to spot signs and serendipities.

 

So timefulness leads to a lovely state of kindfulness.

 

If this sounds blissful, it is. If it sounds unattainable, it isn’t. The difference between either of these states lies solely in your thoughts.

 

Now there’s a thought!

 

PUSH Coach Tom Evans is an author, internationally renowned meditation guide and trainer in practical applications of mindfulness. He specialises in creating meditations and processes to help people and businesses, perform smarter and faster yet with more ease. If you would like to learn more about how to apply practical applications of mindfulness in your work and the benefits to your organisations please get in touch.

Many of his most popular meditations are freely available via the Insight Timer app at www.insighttimer.com/tomevans

Mindful drinking

Shifting your Company’s Drinking Culture

Alcohol is a difficult subject in the workplace. At work hospitality, staff parties and Friday drinks it is expected that alcohol is available. It is legal, widely used, and a dominant theme of the British social life. Yet we all know it impacts on mental health, weight and interpersonal behaviour. Conservative estimates suggest that alcohol costs the economy £7.3 billion per year in lost productivity alone.

Because alcohol is a ‘cultural norm’ and problems with alcohol still come with a stigma, we know that employers don’t want to be seen as nannying. Staff will never tick ‘alcohol’ as their main health concern in welfare surveys. Yet, when it comes to improving resilience, managing stress, losing weight or improving sleep, alcohol use has an important role to play. So how can deal with this delicate conundrum? Another more topical issue is also the fact that alcohol influences behaviour in ways that could be described as bullying or even harassment. For HR and wellness managers it is a tough topic to navigate!

What we do know is that on average 1 in 5 of your employees already want to change their drinking habits (a majority of those will be looking to moderate). Recognising that staff will have this as a secret goal and not talk about it is a good start. You can make some simple changes to ‘de-hangover’ your company which are good for everyone. All your actions will contribute to improving other areas of your workforce’s wellness. It just takes a simple switch in thinking.

Here are our top tips:

1. Think of this as a diversity issue as well as a health one. Younger people are drinking less and are beginning the fear entering a boozy work culture. Consider how an alcohol-led work social life impacts on your existing staff (whether they don’t drink for personal, religious or even parenting reasons) and could influence recruitment. Stating publicly that you are a good workplace for mindful drinkers will put everyone at ease, and making it clear that your staff always have permission to say ‘no’ to a drink.

2. You can make some simple changes to what your company does as part of an equality and inclusion policy. Easy wins include ensuring there is a good range of alcohol-free drinks at all events; making sure that badgering people to drink during or after work is recognised as bullying; having a clear ‘it’s okay not to drink with clients’ policy (your clients will thank you too); and organising social events that are not always alcohol-led.

3. Many of Club Soda’s members have told us that work events, such as networking or drinks, are often the things that knock them off their intended goals. Why not run a pop-up bar during a wellness week and get staff to pick what alcohol-free beers and wines and craft sodas they want to see added to socials, team celebrations and the drinks fridge? Pick pubs for socials with a diverse range of drinks (or ask for the bar to stock them for your event). Ensuring that you are always giving people permission to not drink is really easy to do.

4. Water is for everyone, it is not an alcohol-free option; and ditch the orange juice! Unless you are organising a breakfast or it is 1980 again. When not drinking alcohol, people often prefer healthier choices – so go for lower calorie and lower sugar options, such as alcohol-free beers or craft sodas. Your clients will appreciate the extra thought too. See hospitality as the quality of the welcome you offer, rather than the price of the booze you serve.

5. Talk to your catering contractors. At the moment the finger-pointing for a poor choice of alcohol-free drinks is levelled at caterers by the companies, and vice versa. Someone has to step up and change the status quo. And since you pay the bills, you get to decide what is served at your events. Be bold!

6. Integrate information about alcohol into your other health programmes. Alcohol affects every bit of your body. So rather than sticking it as a separate subject, weave information into any programmes about stress, mental health, weight and sleep.

7. Support your staff who are looking to reassess their relationship with alcohol by finding courses and workshops they can attend without ‘outing’ themselves. Club Soda’s online programmes and workshops are designed to do just that.

At PUSH, we love working with Club Soda, the UK’s Mindful Drinking Movement. They work with companies to review their culture to make sure staff have permission to not drink, run workshops, inspirational talks and panels, run pop-up bars and mini Mindful Drinking Festivals to round-off wellness weeks and have a venue guide of good places for mindful drinkers. If you would like to work with Club Soda, get in touch today!

Business People using the phone at coffee shop

The Ongoing Battle of Busy Vs. Productive

You know the feeling, you’ve a mile-long to-do list, mounting deadlines, incessant emails, never-ending meetings, and you can feel the stress levels beginning to rise. Whilst we sometimes feel trapped it this situation, this is exactly the time you need to stop and ask yourself whether you are being productive or just needlessly busy.

Unfortunately, busyness rarely equals productive. Sometimes endlessly crossing items of your to-do list is just another form of procrastination that takes us further away from what we really need to achieve. Being busy is easy, being productive is where the real work comes in.

Here are our top tips for turning your busy into productive.

 

Take off your busy badge

In today’s world, being busy is often worn as a badge of honour. An endless to-do list and a full calendar can sometimes make you feel important. How many times have you heard friends and co-workers say they’re “so busy” in response to you asking how they are? Let’s redefine how we determine our value in the workplace. Because constant busyness is neither productive nor sustainable.

Simplify

Leaping from task to task on your to-do list without any direction is not likely to get you closer to your goals or result in a high level of productivity. Instead, why not simplify your focus to three top goals or priorities to help you remain focused and productive. Get clear about what the most important things for you to accomplish are and then plan your day accordingly.

Focus

Don’t multitask. Countless studies show that humans are actually terrible multitaskers. When we constantly switch between different streams of information we have difficulty paying attention and recalling information, meaning it can take us twice as long as if we just focused on one task at a time. It might make you feel like you are being super-productive, but in truth multitasking decreases your efficiency and just ends up leading to more stress.

Say Yes Strategically
Busy people say yes to everything, productive people say yes strategically. Being intentional and considered in what you take on prevents overpromising and under-delivering, which ultimately is more detrimental than saying no in the first place. Trying to please everyone doesn’t please anyone. If you don’t believe me, take it from Steve Jobs who said, “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do”.

Reflect

Regularly taking time out to stop and reflect helps to break the cycle of busyness and put you back on the path to productivity. Mindfulness can be particularly helpful when you feel stuck in a busy loop. Become aware of where your attention goes and reconnect to your priorities and goals. This simple yet highly effective practice will have you moving through that to-do list in a more meaningful and efficient way.

One-Step-Approach

Time To Simplify

The one step approach to achieving goals

Self-help blogs are full of three, five, and ten step approaches to self-improvement. May I offer you a one step approach?

Let’s say you have an endeavour ahead of you. A goal you want to realise. Or maybe it is just a work deadline.

Perhaps it is something you once wanted to achieve, but now you no longer feel motivated. You feel the task looming, and your head is rapidly filling up with “should”, “need to” and “have to”. 

As a result, your stress levels are rising but your energy is draining, your motivation is dissipating and your performance is dropping. None of that is helpful. However, you are stuck in this vicious cycle, for the moment.

So, how to come unstuck? How to beat procrastination and just get it done?

When we think about what we need to achieve or do, we often automatically zoom out and focus on the whole, enormous, complex accomplishment demanded of us (even if it is just meeting a work deadline). In doing so we overwhelm ourselves and our brain, specifically our prefrontal cortex.

There is too much to take in. Too much to do. Too much to analyse. Too much that can go wrong. There is simply too much to process. As a result the cortisol floodgates open and we fret and stress. And crucially, we do nothing. Except beat ourselves up for doing nothing.

Sounds familiar?

This is where the art of the one step approach comes in.

If it is too much for your prefrontal cortex, then give it less. A lot less. Instead of thinking about all the things you need to do to achieve the goal, focus on one small but effective step right now. Just one simple step.

You need to write a proposal, or maybe even a book? Let go of “the proposal” or “book” in all their overwhelming, vested enormity.

All you need to do right now is to write a sentence. Just one sentence. Then after that, you only need to write one more sentence. Just one sentence. Then another.

In every single narrow moment, there is only one step you need to take: write that one sentience.

You want to be fitter? You want to start running?

Right now, you only need to tie your shoelaces. That is all you need to do. After that you only need to open the front door. Once outside, you only need to put one foot in front of the other. There is no 5k or 10k. There is just the next step in that moment.

Your prefrontal cortex can cope with that. It can write one sentence. It can tie shoelaces, and it can open a front door. Before your prefrontal cortex knows it, you have tricked it into running 5k or writing the dreaded proposal.

If the big picture is too big, don’t zoom out, zoom in. Zoom right in on the here and now, and the one small step.

It is you, not cortisol, who should run the show. Take the power back, one single step at a time.

Wellness breakfast panel

Leading Wellness From The Top

How to get senior buy in to successfully create a wellness culture

On Friday 26 January 2018, PUSH founder Cate Murden joined key leaders from different industries at the EventFuel Wellness Breakfast to discuss the topic of ‘Leading wellness from the top – how to get senior buy in to successfully create a wellness culture’.

The inspiring event brought together a panel of diverse and dynamic experts to shed light on the burning issues facing businesses and individuals looking to implement wellness initiatives into the workplace.

Read on to find out more about some of the key issues highlighted by the panel when integrating employee wellness into organisations.

Wellbeing should be a priority not a luxury

With increasing levels of stress and mental health issues, employee wellness is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but rather an imperative component of successful businesses. There is countless evidence which demonstrates that a tailored and robust wellbeing programme leads to a significant increase in productivity and reduced stress levels, which in turn increases efficiency and creates a high performing business. Shining a spotlight on wellness makes good business sense. 

Individuals can make a difference

One of the key themes that emerged from the discussion was the belief that wherever you are in the organisation, whether you are the CEO or a junior staff member, you can always have some influence. If employee wellness is important to you, start with what is within your control. From leading by example, to implementing a wellbeing objective within your immediate team, you can implement change and demonstrate the flow on effects and benefits of prioritising wellness in the workplace. Create a positive sub-culture which can spread throughout the organisation.

Culture is crucial

The success or failure of an employee wellness program is often largely influenced by the culture of the organisation. The gold standard is for wellbeing to be firmly entrenched in the company culture. To do that, it needs support from the top. Leadership needs to buy into wellness initiatives and put energy behind them to drive it into the heart of the company. However, as highlighted above, a bottom up approach can also shift organisational culture towards valuing wellbeing by demonstrating tangible effects which can then be shown to senior leaders as evidence of the benefits at the individual and organisational level. 

Measurement is key

One of the criticisms of employee wellness initiatives is that it is difficult to prove the benefits. In a world focused on budgets and bottom lines, proof is a necessary, particularly for decision-makers. Measuring the outcomes of any wellbeing programme or activity within the workplace is crucial for maintaining top level support and continued prioritisation. Regular assessment and feedback also enables wellness providers to tailor and adjust their services to what is having the most impact and what is best suited to each organisation. From before and after surveys, to statistics around absenteeism and attrition rates, measurement of outcomes should be a key component of any corporate wellness programme.

To find out more about how your organisation can benefit from a specific, evidence-based employee wellbeing programme, get in touch.

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