Workplace Wellness, Not Woes

September 6, 2021

Employee well-being

Hi, I'm Charlene

Let’s talk about how to boost your performance and well-being.

I was affectionately named ‘the soul-icitor’ by my clients as a nod to my former life as a London litigator. While I look back with pride on my rigorous, hard-working, and driven legal career, I remember first-hand what burnout feels like. Preventing burnout through workplace wellness can create productive, healthy, happy and resilient teams. Further, employees tend to find that by focusing on wellness at work, they can enjoy an even work/life balance, and perform better, which generally helps the company and the firm overall.

When I burned out, far-flung travel was the solution to my pursuit of health and happiness, however, not everyone can (or wants) to leave their corporate jobs and head to the Himalayas. My mission and passion is to provide a blueprint to enable lawyers and high performing executives to keep doing what they do- but sustainably. As such, wellness must become more engrained in our corporate culture to allow people to live fulfilling lives as they perform their high-stress jobs. My corporate wellness program can provide your law firms and your lawyers all the tools, tips, and hacks that will enable you to continue to do the work you love while being your healthiest self!

The coaching services for law firms that I provide includes customized corporate wellness programs to enable employees to feel supported and empowered in the jobs they do and love so that they can remain and grow in their roles as a healthier and happier version of themselves! Book a virtual coffee with me online to set up a chat – I am open to all your questions and concerns.

No Workday Worries? Why Workplace Wellness

Considering the number of hours we spend every day at our workplaces, it makes sense for employers to establish workplace wellness programs. Not only does corporate wellness affect the productivity of team members, but it also helps them find meaning in all areas of life—including work. 

Workplace wellness programs for law firms and companies use a holistic approach to help motivate lawyer and employee wellness by steering an authentic culture of care and health in the workplace. A good corporate wellness program should stretch beyond healthy options in a vending machine and discounted gym memberships. Rather, a law firm wellness program should go so far as to offer individual care to help instill healthy habits in and out of work, while increasing productivity, inspiring talent, and strengthening employee engagement.

Why Working Well Works

With growing interest surrounding lawyer workplace wellness, corporate wellness programs are more relevant now than ever. Law firm workplace wellness can be fun, informative, and engaging. These types of wellness programs in law firms also help boost employee retention and productivity, and they can reduce healthcare costs. They can also be adapted to an online, hybrid format/delivery method, which is helpful considering the growing number of home/online/remote workers. Outside of the office, wellness programs help guide overall strategies to adopt healthy lifestyles. Below are the most significant reasons why these law firm wellness programs work:

1. Improves Healthy Behaviour
According to a recent survey by the International Bar Association, the wellbeing index score for lawyer respondents was 51%, while the general population averages at 75%. This means lawyers, on average, are not feeling as cheerful, relaxed, active, vigorous, or interested in life as an average person.

A well-curated wellness program can help lawyers adopt and maintain healthy habits such as mindfulness, breathwork, positive mindset, regular physical activity, and healthy eating. Law firm wellness programs can also help lawyers decrease harmful health behaviours such as smoking, heavy drinking, undersleeping, and/or substance abuse, to name only a few. Becoming involved in a lawyer workplace wellness program can help employees reduce the risk of health problems and prevent chronic diseases while becoming more health-aware.

 2. Reduces the Risk of Diseases
Being highly stressed or anxious at work can lead to lack of exercise, lack of sleep and poor nutritional choices, which in turn leads to problems like high blood sugar, high blood pressure, depression, and burnout. A lawyer wellness program helps employees learn to implement healthy choices in their lives, improving their physical and mental health in the long run.

3. Increases Employee Engagement
A company that establishes a wellness culture creates a focused, happy, and engaged team, who understand how good health benefits their careers. Having a law firm wellness program also shows the lawyers and employees that the law firm cares about their overall well-being and health.

4. Reduces Stress

By offering law firm wellness programs aimed at combating workplace stress, you can improve your employees’ productivity and performance. Activities such as exercise and meditation, mindfulness, positive psychology and building a mental ‘safe space’ can help employees relieve stress and feel more relaxed, causing the added benefit of becoming more productive.

5. Decreases Absenteeism

When employees are healthy and stress-free, they are less likely to be absent from work. A study in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that there is likely a relationship between corporate wellness programs and a reduction in the cost of absenteeism. The relationship is logical: when employees feel happy and have the opportunity to focus on their health, they tend to have stronger immune systems, more energy, and higher morale, leading to improved performance and fewer sick days.

6. Improves Talent Retention

A successful wellness program can help keep employees loyal and shows the company’s concern for their employees’ health and wellbeing. The Society for Human Resources Management reports that corporate wellness programs are a successful employee retention tool because there is a correlation between job satisfaction and personal health.

7. Improves Employee Morale and Resilience

Health and wellness programs create a sense of and satisfaction among employees, leading to a happier and more productive workforce in general. 

Building and strengthening resilience is one of the most important ‘soft skills’ to thrive and adapt in this ‘new normal’ and ‘new corporate world’. The world we live and work in has changed extremely rapidly – but has your employees’ mindset and behaviours changed and adapted equally as rapidly? The missing piece of the puzzle to not only ‘survive’ in this new world but ‘ thrive’ instead is mastering the art of resilience. 

8. Breaks the Monotony

Primal laws dictate that using your brain and using your creativity are great for your overall health, and the same applies in law firm wellness programs, which can break up the monotony of the day by learning new things that promote good health and fitness at the same time. As you know, I live my life in a primal and predominantly active way, so I do understand how daunting it can be to come up with ideas for workplace wellness, which is why I feel that it is essential that law firms lead by example and create a culture of wellness at work. 

Ten Ideas for Workplace Wellness

The following are ten ideas for workplace wellness that law firms can identify and address. 

Identify Unhealthy Eating Patterns

A law office can be a dangerous place when it comes to eating patterns, as there is always a birthday cake, sandwich platters in lunchtime meetings, or a stack of chocolate bars next to the coffee machine. These sugar-loaded carb-heavy foods can decrease employees’ general wellbeing, as sugar can be an addictive source of temporary energy. Avoid promoting excessive sweets and promote healthy snacks at your law firm. 

1. Reduce Alcohol Intake

Law firms often host or have their lawyers attend fancy boozy corporate parties, entertaining clients, attending social networking events, and simply gathering together on Friday nights in the pub with colleagues. Regular consumption of alcohol is all-around harmful for mental and physical health. Alcohol consumption is one of the most significant impediments to lawyer workplace wellness. 

Although remote working means less social interaction and social events there has been a net increase of ‘at home’ drinking evenings or other zoom call drinking parties. 

According to a study in the PLOS ONE Journal from the Public Library of Science, overcommitment and permissiveness toward alcohol at work were associated with a high likelihood of risky drinking. Try to limit alcohol consumption and promotion at your law firm, and become more aware of the frequency of alcohol-focused social events. There is undeniably a certain amount of social pressure to drink at events, but when ordering the next round during these events, consider offering non-alcoholic drinks or even having events that are alcohol-free.

2. Sit tight!
Posture is an important part of a person’s overall health. Make sure that your law firm employees have the correct ergonomic chairs and desks to help their posture and health. Encourage your lawyers to watch their posture when working and throughout the work day to see how their wrists are aligned, to make sure they are not too close to their screen, and to check whether their chair is adjusted correctly.

3. Invest in Your Workspace

Experts recommend that workers wear blue light blocking biohacking glasses when working on the screen and that workers utilize an under desk foot-rest. The simple addition of a footrest can reduce strain and promote better posture, all while preventing leg discomfort. Due to the importance of ergonomic workstations for employee health, many companies and organizations now offer in-house ergonomic assessments to get you set up properly. Check to see if your human resources department can provide a posture assessment for your employees to help them be more comfortable at their desks.

4. Office Greens, Not Blues!

Add a selection of plants throughout the office to get some of the benefits of nature in your law firm workspace. Indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air, and plants such as peace lilies, rubber plants, and spider plants are great natural air purifiers. Adding them to your workspace can help to remove toxins from the air. Plants also transform a law firm into a more peaceful, tranquil, and engaging place. One of the best types of mood-boosting (and easy to care for!) plant are snake plants, which give off oxygen and philodendron, which increase productivity.

5. Move It!

I know most of the day in an office is spent sitting on a chair at your computer – and this is why it is important to move every chance you get. Encourage your law firm employees to meet up and take a quick walk around the block for a breath of fresh air. Instead of another seated conversation, suggest a walk and talk in a nearby park. Instead of the elevator, why not grab the stairs? Find ways to encourage your lawyers to move their bodies every hour for at least five minutes. Encourage and support their decisions to go for a quick walk, jump in place, or try some light stretching of their arms, legs, back, and shoulders. 

6. Become a Single-Tasker

Though it may be trendy to “multi-task” when busy, Primal Health laws dictate that multi-tasking is an illusion. In many cases, when a lawyer attempts to multi-task, they end up doing two or three tasks at once, without as much success as focusing on one singular task. Encourage your lawyers to avoid distractions while they work, such as browsing the internet or checking their phone. Consider implementing and encouraging strategies such as the Pomodoro method to help your lawyers becoming more productive overall.

7. Learn to Switch Off!

Allow your lawyers to switch off! When it is finally time to turn off the screen, really allow them to turn it off. Set healthy and firm boundaries between your work time and non-work time. Boundary-setting is such an important piece of personal wellness for lawyers. Allowing your lawyers and employees time that does not mean they do not care deeply for their work, however, everyone needs time for clean break for their mind to “reset.”

8. Sleep More

Sleep is a very underrated driver behind the mental health of lawyers. It can be hard to sleep a lot when under pressure at work. If lawyers manage to sleep longer, however, they will find yourself being more efficient and more focused the next day. Perhaps instead of binge-watching a TV series to go to sleep, lawyers could turn off the TV or laptop one hour sooner that night for an extra hour of sleep. Encourage your employees to get a good night’s sleep in order to feel more rested and be more productive.

9. Provide Activities for Lawyers and Employees

Consider offering lunchtime yoga or any kind of group activity at your law firm. If you are a lawyer and have access to these kinds of activities – definitely sign up! It is a great opportunity to bond with colleagues while getting a bit of self-care and self-love at work. Check in with your HR department’s wellness or work-life divisions to see if there are any programs or offerings that may help.  If your company does not offer these, you could also suggest to HR that it would be a great addition. Or, if your company offers discounted gym memberships, do not hesitate to join! If none of these are possible, you can always buddy up with your favourite colleague for a little workout session or run together after work instead of the tempting pub crawl.

10. Learn More About All of Your Healthy Options by Contacting a Workplace Wellness Coach and Burnout Advisor.

Get professional advice: Learn More About All of Your Healthy Options by Contacting a Workplace Wellness Coach and Burnout Advisor.

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