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Wellness in the Workplace: The HighRock Way

Fall is just around the corner and with it comes shorter days, a little less sunshine, and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). This is one of the most troubling realities of working in an office 40 hours a week -- no matter how creative your role -- the origins of that award-winning design or code-defying app comes at the cost of a sedentary lifestyle hunched over your keyboard. Isn’t that SAD?

What should you do then, if your job demands you put in the screen time?  Are there ways to prevent your work day from interfering with your well-being?

At HighRock, we’ve worked diligently toward fostering a spirit of mental and physical wellness, and I’m eager to share these initiatives that have helped us maintain a culture of year-round wellness.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT AND TOGETHERNESS

How many times on social media have you heard that “stressed spelled backward is desserts?” Unfortunately, whether it’s the influence of these amusing memes or sugar’s adrenaline rush, that’s how we’ve trained our brain to deal with distress; we eat our feelings. In addition to being a Marketing Executive, I’m also a Certified Health and Wellness Coach and blogger. I often encourage individuals to pack their own lunches and snacks, so they have time to give forethought to what they are eating. At HighRock we take it a step further with dedicated areas for employees to store their snacks, heat up their meals, and keep food fresh.  Why is this important?  When you pack your snacks and lunch, keeping them at your desk increases the desire to snack due to stress, boredom, habit, and as a form of emotional eating.  By placing food somewhere other than your desk, you decrease the chance of reaching for that bag of nuts or popcorn when that “deadline” email comes rolling through. Out of sight, out of mind.

As a result of discouraging mindless eating at the desk through the use of storage spaces, we also encourage employees to connect during lunch or break time.  HighRockers will often grab lunch together and/or chat for a few minutes in the break room while preparing their lunches. Though the time may not be significantly long, it’s time to spend connecting with each other on a personal level. Remember, mental/social well-being is just as important as physical well-being. In a world where computers and cell phones get more face time than people, it’s important to reconnect with one another.

Quick tips for the office foodie:

  • Ask if you can have input on vending machines and/or snack selections for the office. Lobby for healthier and more nutritious snack options that feed the mind and the body.
  • Pack your lunch the night before to avoid panic mode the next day. The last thing you want to do is head out for that Big Mac because you’re starving and have “nothing to eat.”
  • Plan Healthy Potlucks at work that encourage employees to bring in their favorite healthy dishes. Challenge them to “healthify” traditional recipes and get creative in the kitchen. Take it to the next level and host an actual competition!

A lunch box on a table with fruits and vegtables

IT STARTS WITH SMALL STEPS…LITERALLY

At HighRock we communicate through phones, email, and many other digital platforms that make our workday much more efficient. But the most significant advancement to our method of communication is (take a deep breath) face-to-face. Whether someone is sitting several feet or a few yards away, we strongly encourage walking over to a person’s desk to ask a question or explain an issue that may be challenging to outline via virtual means.  I can hear the critics saying right now:“No way is walking productive!”  It may seem counterintuitive to productivity, but how many times have you found yourself going back and forth over email when it would have taken two minutes to explain something face to face? On top of that, you’re getting the blood flowing again!

Smoke breaks, though less common now, have been around for years. So, it’s only natural now to take “walk breaks.”  Instead of spending your lunch checking out Facebook or Instagram at your desk, try taking a “walking lunch break” and catch up on your favorite podcast. Find yourself amidst the worst technology-induced headache? Put the computer screen down and take a walk around the building. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away from the office. See if a client or coworker would be up for a “walking meeting.” Phone call? Awesome! Walk around while you take the call. There are a lot of ways to fit more steps in throughout the work day.

FROM CAREER TO COMMUNITY, ADVOCATING A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE

HighRock is an advocate for wellness on every level. Internally, our insurance company offers a wellness program for HighRock employees that rewards healthy behaviors with monetary incentives. As a recognized “Healthy Company,” HighRock reallocates that money to support healthy initiatives around the office, like free chair massages for the entire team.

There are always ways to partner with other companies like wellness experts, fitness facilities, medical offices, or health coaches, to support employee well-being. Not only are you increasing the health and happiness of your current employees, you’re also developing quite the recruiting pitch for potential new employees!

Our focus on health doesn’t stay within the walls of HighRock.  We also sponsor and participate in local 5Ks and other wellness initiatives that align with our mission to give back and improve our local communities across all mediums throughout Maryland.

Woman sitting at desk, stretching her arms above her head

Quick tips for creating a healthy community:

  • Share your passion: Encourage your company and fellow coworkers to participate in community wellness events. These events provide the opportunity for team bonding as well as accountability in achieving personal health goals. Gather a team to run in the next 5K or host a healthy breakfast for the homeless.
  • Advocating awareness. Your company is part of the community and, as a company, there should be actions taken to build awareness within the community. By actively participating and spearheading wellness initiatives in the community, other companies and institutions will recognize the value, passion, and the mission-driven nature of your company. This will lead to networking and business development opportunities.

MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING GO HAND IN HAND

When the word “wellness” enters a conversation, we often think about our weight or what we can physically change in our daily routine. However, we often don’t allocate that same sense of urgency when it comes to our mental wellness requirements. As a company, we realize how these go hand in hand. One way we incorporate mindfulness is encouraging social connections. From office celebrations hosted by our FUN committee to happy hours and networking events, mingling with our co-workers outside of the customary 9-5 gives us the opportunity to get to know each other and the rest of the community on a more substantial level. We love to host meetings with clients at restaurants, cafes, or even around the block while walking and talking through the project goals.

Quick tips on how to stay healthy during happy hour:

  • As much as you want to just relax, this is still a work event -- you’re rubbing elbows with your fellow employees and potential clients. Limit your alcohol intake to 1 or 2 drinks and be mindful of those not-so-healthy appetizers. Remember, you still have goals.
  • Plan ahead. Thanks to online menus, you can begin to feast before you even set foot in the restaurant. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.  Most quality restaurants are accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions and are happy to switch up ingredients to comply with your healthy requirements. Worried about that cocktail pushing you over your calorie limit?  When it comes to cocktails, the calorie range is high. Browse the web, or check out my wellness bog, for tips on healthier cocktail choices. You can be the life of the party without having to “live it up!”

At HighRock we realize that wellness is a personal journey and by introducing workplace tools,  these goals are more achievable and accessible. By providing incentives and tools, we foster a healthier, more productive and engaged workplace and community. What are you doing to ensure the health and happiness of your workforce?