Are you working well?

Wellbeing in the workplace is becoming an important consideration for small business owners and their employees. This is primarily in recognition that stress levels are on the increase, with 35 per cent of Australians reporting significant levels of psychological distress, according to the Australian Psychological Society Stress & Wellbeing 2015 Survey.

Scientific research also supports that experiencing positive emotions and psychological wellbeing not only feels good, but affects how we function on a daily basis. When it comes to your small business, it's important to recognise that employee wellbeing affects engagement and productivity, and ultimately, your bottom line. So proactively investing in your team's wellbeing is not just a nice to have, but a must have!

Australians have been shown to work some of the longest hours in the world, and it's a common story that small business owners tend to live and breathe work, with extended working hours and limited opportunities for investment in proactive wellbeing activities for themselves or their teams. 

The corporate sector is further along the journey of investing in proactive wellbeing opportunities for their teams, with gym memberships, lunch time yoga and fruit boxes among the common perks in larger organisations. But for small business owners, these "essentials" can often be seen as an uncesary expense when you're still trying to land that big client, or getting your business off the ground.

But there are many ways to improve your everyday wellbeing that don't cost the earth, simply by finding new ways to work well.

Sitting is the new smoking

We've all heard the new slogan, "sitting is the new smoking" and we're starting to realise that sitting for too long isn't good for your health. But more recent research suggests that it’s not just sitting but standing still that’s also not good for your wellbeing.

The effects of sitting or standing still for too long basically relate to reduced physical activity which has also been found to increase your risk of chronic health problems, such as heart disease and cancers. According to the 2011-2012 Australian Health Survey, 60 per cent of Australian adults do less than the recommended 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each day, and the bigget culprits? People with desk jobs.

Many workplaces are now utilising sit-stand desks as standard for desk-based employees, but you might also want to consider conducting walking meetings or presentations, or using a Fitbit or timer set at regular intervals to remind you to stand up and move. 

Be active

For some small business owners, particulary those in hospitality or retail your day-to-day tasks often involve incidental activity, whether it's serving customers or moving stock. However, many people in your team might not realise the impact this simple day-to-day activity is having on their physical wellbeing - and the associated positive benefits of such activity on their mental wellbeing. A powerful scientific study found that  educating employess on how their daily tasks add value to their physical health, in turn improved their mental and physical wellbeing.

Providing employees with simple tips to increase their incidental exercise, can also improve their wellbeing. So at your next team meeting consider brainstorming ways you and your team can move more - whether its taking the stairs instead of the lift, parking further from work or walking to work, taking lunch breaks away from your desks, or taking a short walks outside when catching up on tasks or talking about new projects.  

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Think green

There are a number of scientific studies that prove what many of us instinctively know - being in natural environments is good for us.

The restorative effects of nature (either viewing greenery outside the window or having plants inside your workspace) have been shown to reduce stress levels as they provide a comfortable and relaxing element to the your working space. The added benefit of reducing stress is an increase in productivity.

Plus plants have been shown to improve the air quality by taking out some of the carbon dioxide and increasing the amount of oxygen in yourt enivronment. So now is the time to get green - spruce up your space with a variety of indoor plants, or invest in paintings or pictures that depict views of nature or images of nature. And when you can, head outside - getting your daily dose of Vitamin D at lunchtime, ideally in a park, is a great way to boost your wellbeing. 

Dr Suzy Green

Dr Suzy Green is a Clinical and Coaching Psychologist (MAPS) and Founder of The Positivity Institute, a positively deviant organisation dedicated to the research and application of Positive Psychology for life, school and work.
Suzy is a leader in the complementary fields of Coaching Psychology and Positive Psychology, having conducted a world-first study on evidence-based coaching as an Applied Positive Psychology. Suzy was the recipient of an International Positive Psychology Fellowship Award and has published in the Journal of Positive Psychology. Suzy lectured on Applied Positive Psychology as a Senior Adjunct Lecturer in the Coaching Psychology Unit, University of Sydney for ten years and is an Honorary Vice President of the International Society for Coaching Psychology.