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  • Writer's pictureKimberly LaBounty

Serving Customers Better by Investing in Ourselves: Corporate and Personal Wellness

In The 11th Habit: Design Your Company Culture to Foster the Habits of High Performance, authors Andrew Sykes and Hanlie Van Wyk describe a work culture narrative where “we need to serve our customers and our organizations at the expense of ourselves.” They describe a culture in which we think that in order to achieve more, be better, climb higher, we must do more, sacrifice more, and what we end up sacrificing is ourselves. It makes sense, right? We only have so many hours in the day and so much energy to expend, so if we spend two more time in the office, it has to come from somewhere. The trouble is, we often say no to ourselves – our exercise class, the hours of sleep we get, taking the time to eat healthy, instead of sacrificing something else. As a result, our mental and physical health suffer in the process of our striving. While Sykes and Van Wyk are in favor of achieving and climbing, they encourage us to replace that philosophy with “the line of thinking that we serve our customers and the organizations we work for by first investing in ourselves.”

As business owners, we often interpret ”investment” to mean continuing education and professional development. No doubt, it’s beneficial to offer employees an opportunity to further their knowledge, and stay current with trends, technology and other developments. But let’s not dismiss the fact that investing in yourself includes other social, mental, and health aspects. The authors remind us of the assumption that our work lives and personal lives are to be treated separately and that, when we walk into the workplace, we check our personal lives at the door. Reality is we bring our work home and we bring home to work. The stresses of both bleed into the other. So, investing in ourselves should expand to other aspects of our lives, too.

Corporate wellness has come a long way from those first smoking cessation programs, offering things like lactation rooms, fitness classes and studios, walks over the lunch hour, etc. As a business owner, I think it’s important that investing in self come from both the grassroots level and from the top. For example, I noticed several of my employees asking to take odd lunch hours or ask if they could take a yoga class when they saw me doing the same. By setting the example, I made it ok for my employees to invest in their own health, and now several are taking classes locally, and walk at lunch. What started as bagel Tuesday evolved into bagels once a month, with the other Tuesdays of fresh fruit and yogurt with granola.

Wellness activities don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Taking small steps to incorporate healthy alternatives is great ways to invest in self. I never gave wellness a big budget. I offered a monthly budget of an hour of the work day and just $150 for my staff of 15, but somehow we managed to find healthy cooking classes, meditation, chair yoga, and consultants to talk about goal setting. Once a year our monthly check went to a charity. All these things were employee ideas, and I encouraged them to have something scheduled once a month. And by being open about my noon yoga class, wellness became ok. (Some even joked they would wait to share anything negative with me until after I got back from classJ)

If you’re looking for ideas about how to incorporate wellness into your corporate culture or in your own personal life, if you need of a yoga or meditation instructor for your upcoming conference or corporate program (in the Chicago area), don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I teach all levels, and mostly beginner to intermediate. I also have tools on my website, such as how to stay balanced when traveling and tips for starting a meditation practice. I would love to help you improve your company’s wellness or your own personal health. Simply email or call 630.833.4220. Namasté

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