• MIND OVER MATTER

MIND OVER MATTER

The results are in, we are stressed! From income to health, through to managing expectations at work, it is no wonder these levels are on the rise. So much so we are now having to take mental health leave. Given work-related stress is frequently reported on as a major health issue impacting companies all over the world, what is being done about this in the workplace?

Over the past years, workplaces have seen a shift from traditional HR strategies to programs focussed on employee health and wellbeing. Why you ask? Research suggests these initiatives improve employee engagement, increase productivity and decrease absenteeism. Whilst the above are essential to improving a company’s bottom line, the issue of mental wellbeing in the workplace is just as crucial. Yes, mental wellbeing is a serious and ever-increasing issue in the workplace. How, therefore, do employers manage a “beast” many don’t even realise they are currently battling? One answer is simple, exercise.  

What is mental wellbeing?

The World Health Organisation describes mental wellbeing as “the state in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.  Within this definition, there are two variables that can be positively influenced through exercise: (1) Realising his or her own abilities (better known as self-efficacy); and (2) coping with stress.

How does exercise help?

Do you notice after a run how much more relaxed you feel, despite the initial increased need for air? Research has proven the effects of exercise programs on stress levels and overall mental wellbeing.  Exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones, placing you in a state of relaxation, which can often improve sleep patterns. Furthermore, improving the body’s cognitive function, elevating mood hormones.

Self-esteem and self-efficacy affect learning and productivity in more ways than one in the workplace. Regular exercise improves one’s ability to manage stress levels, especially when engaging in unfamiliar tasks. Those who exercise love to be challenged and in turn seek out tasks likely to do just that.

Wellbeing and the workplace

Based on this research alone, it is not hard to see why the workplace is shifting focus to health and wellbeing programs. It is, however, important to note, such programs require a 3 to 5 year commitment to achieve expected results. Why? Initially, individuals may not possess the confidence (self-efficacy) to participate in all programs. However, over time, individuals’ self-efficacy improved, resulting in increased participation levels.  This shift will highlight results in employee confidence, productivity and commitment to face challenging tasks.

Exercise can contribute positively to mental health, with business wellbeing programs playing a part in this. The shift from traditional employee engagement strategies, to a focus on wellbeing, is not only positive for physical health, it will contribute to a confident and resilient workforce. Resulting in an improved bottom line.

References:

Edwards, S, “Physical Exercise and Psychological well-being”, 2002, South African Journal of Psychology, Vol 36, 2, pp 357-373.

Harvard Health Publishing, 2011 Harvard Medical School.

Muhonen, T & Torkelson, E, 2008, “Collective and individualistic coping with stress at work”, Psychological Reports, Vol 102, 2, pp 450-458.

Kylee Randall

Head of Consultancy & Special Projects

Kylee Randall has spent the last 17 years in roles focussed on developing high productivity, resilient cultures in corporations. She has successfully delivered complex projects that integrate technology and people. Kylee has witnessed the value wellbeing provides to organisations, striving to promote this mentality in all projects. Kylee’s qualifications include a business degree, Master of Business Administration (Sustainable Business) and she is currently studying a Post Graduate Diploma in IT.

Newsletter

Email *
First Name*
Last Name
*Required Fields