What Work & School Have in Common

When it comes to daily work environments, little has changed since our days in school.classroom

Think about it. Assigned desks – whether you’re a student in History class or an employee in an office – are still an idea. Lockers in the hallways have been swapped out for water coolers in the cafeterias, and teachers are now called managers.

But most importantly, what hasn’t changed for employees of all ages is a voracious appetite for learning. In fact, 53 percent of employees say the top reason they love their company is because of interesting and challenging work.

By supporting employees in developing habits around learning new things, you’ll help them meet these challenges head on and drive their professional and personal growth too.

Your Company is a Classroom

You already understand that knowledge-savvy employees are your competitive advantage. And 71 percent of CEOs agree – citing their people over products, customer relationships, and brand as the primary driver of sustained economic value.

Employees are 30 times more likely to leave their company if they feel their goals are not achievable. – IBM Corporation

Developing new habits around learning is just as important to well-being as physical activity and sleep. From better cognitive function to healthy aging, the endless thirst for knowledge keeps employees’ minds thriving.

Retaining and attracting top talent also stems from your organization valuing and encouraging of skill building. Employees are 30 times more likely to leave their company if they feel their goals are not achievable.

Offer plenty of opportunities for employees to get a bit more hands on with meaningful projects. And for more direct learning experiences, add professional development trainings and seminars into the mix too.

Education is Everywhere

Engaging employees’ habits in the workplace will begin to extend to their personal habits outside the workplace too. And there are plenty of areas of learning that may not be given their due diligence by simply being referred to as hobbies.

Learning a new language, for instance, offers employees a unique way to develop skills they might never have imagined would translate to the workplace. Aside from opening up new communication channels, learning a language develops skills like stronger decision-making, more agile switching between tasks, better control over focusing attention to limit distractions, and more aware financial spending.

“There’s magic in language” – Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group

Personal growth doesn’t have to be limited to solitary endeavors, either. Employees who choose to learn a new sport by joining a local club team will find new approaches to physical activity and broaden their social networks at the same time. With 41 percent of employees motivated by friends to get healthier, according to a Virgin Pulse survey, employees who meet more people grow more themselves too.

As with any habit, success leads to more success. By providing employees with skill-building and learning opportunities inside the workplace, you’ll be helping them grow in something they already want to do. And it’s here that your support will start employees on the path towards building even more healthier, lifelong habits.

Looking for more ways to support employees challenging themselves in the workplace? Our Pulse Paper shows you how to drive employee productivity by limiting distractions.

M. R. Brown writes content for the marketing team at Virgin Pulse. He looks to dispense his know-how on well-being to help get employees and employers alike engaged in healthy workplaces. You can find him running trails on weekends, endlessly motivated by the thought of being chased by a wolf. Follow him on Twitter @writermrbrown.

3 Habits to Help Replenish Employees

office employeeIn this fast-paced world, taking time to focus on forming healthy habits seems nearly impossible. Work is a top priority, consuming more than 40 hours a week for 59 percent of full-time employees. Schedules are packed and people are burned out – and it’s causing everyone’s energy and productivity levels to drop. Modern life is depleting employees, causing them to develop unhealthy habits.

But there’s good news: it doesn’t take much to get your employees on the right track. Encouraging them to make healthier choices at work can help give them the push to practice healthy habits that matter across all areas of life.

When your people employees focus on their well-being, they become more engaged and able to bring their best selves to work every day. Change your employees’ lives, help increase their energy and productivity levels, and strengthen your workforce by starting with these three healthy habits.

Sleep Soundly

It may feel invasive approaching your employees about their sleeping habits, but it’s a topic that needs addressing. Forty percent of employees admit they doze off at least once a month during the workday, costing employers $18 billion annually in lost productivity, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Educate your people about what happens when they aren’t getting enough sleep. Encourage them to figure out what’s depriving their sleep, and work with them to help make getting enough shuteye a priority. When employees are well rested, their memories are better, they make smarter financial decisions, and are less likely to make mistakes.

Mindful Focus

Employees are constantly thrown off track by texts, emails, and noisy conversations at work. These disruptions cause a 40 percent productivity loss, and when employees try to make up for the lost time by multitasking, it only makes matters worse. But thankfully, there are simple solutions to help decrease the distractions – keeping your employees on task and saving your company money.

Offer your employees productivity programs that’ll teach them ways to manage their workload, so they don’t become overwhelmed or agitated. Help them pick one item from their to-do list, and make sure they complete that task before starting another one. And when it comes to chatty colleagues, encourage employees to use headphones so they can stay focused.

Learn New Things

Did you know that exercising the brain is just as important as it is the body? Learning new things opens the mind and improves cognitive function with aging. According to one of our survey reports, 53 percent of employees say the top reason they love their job is because of the interesting and challenging work, highlighting just how important it is you give your people engaging, stimulating work.

Give employees meaningful projects that’ll help sharpen their skill set you hired them for. Offer training and development programs in different areas that’ll help drive their careers. It’s important that they not only grow in the workplace, but in their personal lives as well. Encourage them to explore new hobbies, like hiking or learning a new instrument.

Offering your employees the resources they need to improve their overall well-being is the best thing you can do for them and your company. Influence your people to make healthy choices, and these choices will become long-lasting habits they’ll carry with them at work and beyond. By developing and maintaining healthy habits, your employees are able to reach their full potential while you create a thriving, successful workforce.

Want to learn more ways to help employees develop healthy habits? Check out our ebook for all nine habits to create a thriving workforce.

Kelly O’Donnell is a marketing intern at Virgin Pulse, where she hopes to broaden her knowledge in the area of holistic well-being and strengthen her marketing and writing skills. In her free time, you can find her exploring trails with her dog or relaxing on the beach with a good book and friends.

When Counting Sheep Won’t Cut It

img-sleep-blogWe’ve all been there. It’s the wee hours of the morning and you’re wide-awake, tossing and turning. The minutes tick by and you’re counting just how many hours of sleep you can get if you fall asleep right now. Stress and pent up energy from the day prevents you from dozing off, causing you even more stress and frustration.

A recent New Yorker article noted that over the past 50 years, the average sleep duration shrunk by an hour and a half, down to just under seven hours per night. And a whopping 69 percent of us report getting insufficient sleep. In fact, according to the CDC, sleep deprivation is a public health epidemic.

Sleep Hygiene – It’s Real

Our ability to get enough quality sleep is affected by our habits. That’s why sleep hygiene is so important to our overall well-being. But modern life is taking a toll and making it difficult for everyone – including your employees – to get enough shuteye.

They’re constantly juggling priorities and responding to the ring, beep, or buzz of their devices. As the lines between work and personal time blur, people are plugged in at all hours. Not only are their minds racing after all that stimulation, but the blue light emitted by devices actually suppresses the ability to fall asleep.

Wondering how you can help? Let employees know that it’s not just OK, but encouraged, to disconnect from technology before bedtime as a way to help them fall asleep faster.

Nutrition plays a key role in sleep, as well. After a long day, it can be easier for employees to swing by the fast food drive-through than to cook a healthy dinner. While that’s a quick fix, a meal heavy in fat and salt is likely to make it difficult to fall asleep.

But many people find making time to cook a challenge. Help your employees eat more healthfully by sharing tips on how to plan meals and prep ingredients before the workweek starts. This will save them time in kitchen and make it easy to stay on track.

When employees are low on energy, they’re more likely to reach for an afternoon caffeine boost, which in turn will keep them up late. Motivation to exercise drops when they’re tired, but physical activity during the day actually helps them sleep better. It can be a vicious cycle of not-so-healthy habits, all contributing to this sleep crisis.

Once that afternoon yawn hits, suggest that your team go for a walk instead of taking a coffee break. Everyone’ll perk right up and – as an added bonus – get in some activity!

More Than a Stifled Yawn

Not getting enough rest has serious consequences, beyond stifling a yawn in that important meeting. Extreme fatigue contributes to about 100,000 car accidents in the United States each year, and played a role in both the 1986 Russian Chernobyl nuclear explosion and the 1986 U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger accident.

Our infographic illustrates the wide range of ways sleep deprivation negatively impacts well-being. For example, sleep deprivation can contribute to health issues, including diabetes, hypertension, and depression. And people who sleep fewer than six hours a night are 30 percent more likely to be overweight.

When your employees show up to work after a night of poor sleep, they’re less productive. The CDC reports that sleep deprived employees have 23 percent reduced concentration and 18 percent reduced memory. They have less energy and a decreased ability to cope with stress.

Encouraging healthy habits that support good sleep is a small but important way to improve the well-being of your workforce. Before long, these healthy habits will reap rewards beyond just sweeter dreams for your employees but across your business, as well.

Want to learn more ways you can help employees improve their sleep? Check out our suite of tools and resources on the topic.

Kerry Bryant is Senior Public Relations and Social Media Manager at Virgin Pulse, where she develops and tells stories about health and well-being. She believes in the power of small, healthy steps to become habits that matter and ultimately change lives. In her spare time, Kerry can be found planning her next travel adventure or nose-deep in a book at the beach. Follow her on Twitter: @kez_bryant

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Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!