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How Brain Performance Improves Workplace Wellness and Productivity

I’ve been studying corporate wellness models for months. It seems to be a hot subject because employers continue to seek new ways to attract and retain the best talent and keep everyone as productive as possible — winning market share, increasing earnings, and dominating the world.

But how can you as a leader, an employer, keep your employees happy, creative, collaborative, healthy and more productive? The new model of workplace wellness is focused on brain performance.

The reality for workplace wellness today

I used to consult with a tech company that offered its employees a breakfast bar serving the most toxic, sugar-laden cereals for their people to consume any time they wanted.

They still have a mock football field in the middle of the workplace, but when I used to go there it appeared people were too out of shape to play much football, or working too hard to even consider it.

The truth is that the company was performing badly, and still is, and I wonder how they can still afford to lease office space with a mock football field in the middle of the office, especially considering they employ a ton of hard-working, well-intentioned geeks who probably don’t like playing sports, including football.

You may mean well with your current wellness program, but is it working? And if so, how do you know?

Most current corporate wellness programs emphasize education, fitness, nutrition, physician referral services, maybe even “happiness” coaching or cooking classes. Sure, the more progressive and bigger employers might offer ping pong tables, in-house fitness centers, meditation rooms, mindfulness classes, and other ways to help people have fun or relax at work.

Again, the proof lies in the results, and most organizations have a tough time measuring results for wellness.

As it turns out, measuring results for happiness poses challenges. One article in Harvard Business Review suggests that the search for happiness at work may be misguided.

The bottom line is, if you’re going to make an investment in wellness programs to help people be more productive, maybe they should actually be customized for your people’s needs, be effective and provide measurable results.

Raising the bar for wellness

When it comes to your bottom line for wellness investments, are you wasting your money on the wellness programs you have today? What if the majority of your people, your programmers for example, don’t like working out?

What if most of your people never learned to play ping pong? What if your people don’t like eating cereal? What if most of your people believe meditation is too “woo woo?” What if your company culture is such a grind that nobody feels comfortable taking the mindfulness class? What if most humans on the planet believe they don’t have time to meditate?

Given you have a sound business model, the right strategy, specific goals, clear vision, compelling purpose, bold brand, engaging story, appropriate marketing, solid sales, suitable technologies, proper measures and true accountabilities, how can you raise the bar when it comes to wellness at work? For decades, employers and gurus have been trying to crack the code, but there are very few organizations currently working on brain performance in the workplace.

Jim Collins, the author of “Good to Great,”suggests you need “the right people in the right seats on your bus.” But what if you have the right people in the right seats, and half the people on your bus aren’t feeling well, especially when it comes to how their brains perform?

What if your people under too much stress, anxious, depressed, sick, addicted, or, in some cases, real jerks? Chances are you’ve got serious issues to address, and you’re not doing anything to address the core issue: the human brain.

Welcome to the reality of workplace wellness today. A 2016 workplace study conducted by the American Psychological Association revealed the following statistics:

  1. Fewer than half of 1,501 employees surveyed believed that their company supported workplace well-being.

  2. One third of the employees surveyed revealed chronic stress on the job.

  3. More than half believed there was no opportunity for career advancement, which was the second biggest factor related to job stress, following a crummy salary.

This means for workplace wellness? People are suffering because their brains are suffering.

When brains aren’t “on,” when human brains experience chronic or traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, loss of hope, and the physical symptoms that manifest as a result of an unbalanced brain, the consequences for the people you employ are severe. This means the consequences for your organization can be costly, also. No wonder it costs so much to find, recruit and retain productive human beings.

The next wave of wellness at work: Brain on

Here’s some good news. Workplace wellness is about to take a massive shift forward led by new innovations in brain performance. This is because what we’re doing isn’t working well in most cases.

The truth is that most mental health issues, including emotional and physical symptoms, are often invisible at work until someone blows their stack at a coworker. Or your head of sales drinks too much at the holiday party and blacks out. Or someone over does it on their pain meds, or whatever meds they take. This means wellness at work could be much better for your people and your organizational performance.

It starts with optimizing brain performance. Then, the body follows.

In fact, when the mind is well, the human body can heal itself, just like the body breathes by itself and clots its own blood. The brain can rewire itself, as shown in new studies in the field of neuroplasticity.

If you read any of Lissa Rankin’s books, such as “Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself,” you’ll learn that there’s a massive shift in awareness taking place in the mind-body connection. We can heal ourselves, and this power lives in the human brain, including yours.

If what you’re doing now for workplace wellness isn’t working, you’ve got a choice to make: to do something about wellness at work, or not. This starts with leadership. It starts with looking outside the box, and taking action to help your people get their brains on at work.

The key to improving your recruiting, retention and productivity lives in the brains of the people leading your organization. It then trickles down from there. True workplace wellness is about improving the performance of brains of the leaders at work and the people who go to work every day.


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