If you had to choose, would you like to improve your well-being or your happiness? Most of us would choose happiness over health, says Kansas City area Chiropractor and Well-being Guru Michelle Robin.
The good news is that we don’t have to choose, because well-being is often equivalent to happiness. And small shifts in your well-being can help you respond better to the shifts in life we all must face. The Miller Group’s focus on well-being for both our own staff and our clients’ motivated us to bring Dr. Robin in for a Learning Café in February.
Four quadrants of health
Dr. Robin started out by having us focus on our own well-being, then gave us some advice about extending those benefits to our employees. She approached the topic from what she calls the Chinese medical philosophy, which has the goal of a long, healthy life, vs. the Western philosophy, which focuses on preventing death.
Chinese medicine defines four quadrants of health – mechanical, chemical, energy and psycho-spiritual. Adding just a few activities in each of these quadrants can make a big difference in your overall well-being. As an employer, you can make minor changes that can dramatically affect your employees’ well-being, too. And they’re much easier than a traditional wellness program.
This quadrant includes issues such as sleep positions, posture and movement. To assess yourself in this area, rate yourself on a scale of 0 to 10 regarding whether you exercise 30 minutes five times a week, whether you wake up groggy or stiff and whether you have good posture. While many of her suggestions are up to the individual, employers can make an impact. Here are just a few ways companies can help employees improve in this quadrant by:
- Offering phone headsets
- Helping create ergonomic desk and chair arrangements
- Offering on-site gyms, fitness classes and chair massages
- Encouraging walking meetings
Diet, caffeine intake and water intake are among the important things to measure here. Are you eating five to seven servings of veggies every day, avoiding caffeine and drinking half your body weight (in ounces) of water each day? (For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day!)
Low-cost ways employers can boost chemical well-being:
- Offer healthy foods at meetings
- Provide kitchen facilities, where employees can prepare healthy meals
- Make sure the air and water in your facilities are clean
- Offer lunch and learn workshops
- Provide healthy living apps
To rate yourself on the energy quadrant, Dr. Robin asks about personal relationships, the amount of clutter in your life and how well you manage technology vs. letting it manage you.
Work-related tactics might include:
- Encouraging clutter-free work environments
- Pleasing lighting and sound environments
- Open communications
- Reasonable technology expectations (Don’t expect them to respond at night or on the weekend.)
For the final quadrant, assess your “connection to spirit,” your awareness and management of your behavior patterns and your outlook on life – whether you see the glass as half empty or half full.
Employers can help here by:
- Offering flex time
- Expressing appreciation
- Demonstrating well-being behaviors from the top down
- Engaging employees in personal development
Further employer challenges
Dr. Robin says employers aren’t as successful as they would like to be with well-being initiatives because they’re targeting the wrong factors – obesity, for example. And employees simply aren’t getting on board. She thinks employers are asking the wrong questions – looking at the financial aspects and the analytics alone. Instead, she says, we should focus on the culture and on overall well-being. People are important, and the health of future generations is important, too.
She asks: What would happen if you walked into your office and said to your employees: “What is one thing I can do to make your life easier today?”
She believes that small changes can create big shifts in outcomes. And it can do the same for your employees – especially when you demonstrate the change you’re envisioning and surround employees with the support they need to make those changes, too.
By Tara King, Benefits Advisor
The Miller Group