Posts Tagged ‘Health’


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: Creating an Ergonomic Workspace for Your Employees

Stocksy_txp60acfecbxm9000_Small_302510In today’s business environment, employees work long hours, typically hunched over computer keyboards or, in a customer service environment, on the phone. Did you ever stop to think about whether your employees’ workspace is ergonomically sound? I didn’t either until years ago when one of my employees began suffering from repetitive-stress injuries and eventually had to have surgery.

Ergonomics, or the study of how to fit work systems to workers, doesn’t get a lot of press these days—which is ironic considering a new generation of employees are working in ways that can be harmful to their health. Over time, typing on a keyboard that’s not suited to them, holding their hands in the wrong position or sitting in an uncomfortable chair for long periods can lead to injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, back and neck problems or even tennis elbow (which is on the rise among iPad users). My doctor recently gave me an earful about my bad habit of spending hours slouched over my laptop on the couch.

Injured employees lead to worker’s compensation claims, lowered productivity and other problems for your business. An ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure in this case! Here are some steps to make your office more ergonomic:

  • Buy adjustable chairs that offer back, neck and armrest support. If needed, invest in additional cushions to support lower backs.
  • Encourage employees to get up and stretch or walk around for a few minutes every hour. There are many online apps that can pop up on their computers and remind them.
  • Provide headsets or cordless options for employees who spend long hours on the phone, such as customer service or salespeople.
  • Laptop keyboards are a big cause of repetitive stress injuries because they’re typically smaller and flatter than desktop keyboards. If employees use laptops for long periods, a simple search for “wireless ergonomic keyboards” will turn up many keyboards you can deploy with laptops.
  • Provide a selection of computer mice and let employees choose the one that feels best to them.
  • Make sure workspaces are properly lighted so employees don’t strain their eyes. Provide task lighting as needed—for example, desk lamps or under-shelf lighting for when employees need to work on paper.
  • Encourage employees to come to you when they’re feeling pain so you can get them treatment and adjust their workspace to resolve the issue. Repetitive stress injuries take time to build, but can appear quickly, so acting fast to treat the problem is key.

Check out OSHA’s guide to ergonomics and WebMD’s guide to ergonomic injuries


Tired? Be Careful Not To Lie Today

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How much sleep did you get last night?

If you work at a small business, it’s probably less than six hours. According to the National Sleep Foundation, twenty percent of Americans report getting fewer than six hours of sleep each night. Anything under seven hours is clinically defined as sleep deprivation. 

How does yawning affect your work?

In a recent Bloomberg BusinessWeek article, a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that sleep deprivation is linked to unethical behavior. When people are tired, their self-control and willpower are weak, making it more likely to give in to unethical temptations at work. This happens when an employee takes a suggestion from a co-worker to do something deceptive like stealing the food from the office fridge. This happens because they are tired and their conscience has less mental energy to fight it.

This has drastic implications for small business owners. Many of them think that people who work the longest hours are the best employees. However, as described in Fortune, a new study asserts that these are often the ones making the most unethical choices.

What can be done? The most logical answer is to get more sleep, but this is not always possible.

Luckily there is another solution: Coffee. Researchers say caffeine increases an employee’s self-control and willpower when they are exhausted. That’s right, now coffee can make you more ethical!

Other than increasing caffeine, here are some other strategies you can do to improve ethical behavior:

For owners:

  1. Don’t force social interaction. A lunch break is a time of rejuvenation during the work day for employees. However, according to a 2014 Academy of Management Journal article, this is only the case when employees are allowed to leave the office and use their time freely.
  2. Reconsider goal-based compensation. This pay structure is dangerous because it encourages employees to take on a constant stream of goals, which actually makes people more likely to cheat to get everything done.
  3. Turn on the lights. Having a brightly lit office makes people less likely to cheat according to a 2013 study published in Psychological Science.

For employees:

  1. Don’t eat lunch at your desk. Get out of the office and away from your co-workers for 45 minutes. Meet a friend at a café nearby and get your mind off of deadlines for genuine refreshment during the work day.
  2. Use email. A Cornell University study tracked undergraduate communications and found that people lied only 14% in email compared with 37% on the phone because of the paper trail.
  3. Celebrate your accomplishments. Jumping right into the next big project in order to achieve that long list of goals is prime for cutting corners. Take a break to restore your energy between projects. This will help you complete each one with quality effort and integrity.
  4. Be mindful of your work space. A 2008 study published in Science found that people are more likely to cheat in unorganized environments because a mess has more signs of socially deviant behavior. Sort through that ever-growing stack of papers and throw out that rotting banana to welcome your most honest work behavior.

Where Small Businesses Are Stuck in 2014

During the course of their career, every small business owner gets stuck. The key is to know where and how to get unstuck.

My annual survey of 5,000 small business owners identifies the problem areas. Here are a few excerpts:

  1. Treating their company like a job. The Survey: Over 40% of owners do whatever customers need in order to earn money for their business. This does not allow them to strategically ramp up a profitable business. The Solution: Don’t take every piece of work offered by a customer. Focus on what the company is good at and get more of that profitable business.
  2. The daily plan gets interrupted when entering the office. The Survey: 53% don’t have a plan for their day or it gets destroyed when the start work. The Solution: Before opening email, voice mail or social media, do two important tasks that will make the day productive.
  3. Stocksy_txpe7f75a0ezH4000_Small_41935They never take a break. The Survey: Over 50% said they are too busy to take a break and always have their phone near them. This is because they have a fear of getting left behind. The Solution: Find a daily place without a smartphone where personal batteries can be recharged and let creativity flow.
  4. They fear failure. The Survey: Over 40% said that failure is not an option. They fear it so much that they stop taking risks in their business. The Solution: Accept failure. Learn something. Let go of that failure and take another action to get to another success.
  5. They are afraid of selling. The Survey: 41% are either afraid of rejection or not sure how to build a relationship with a prospect. 59% said that they are too busy servicing existing customer to find new ones. The Solution: A company can’t really sell anything to anyone. They need to be there when customers are ready to buy by executing a daily systematic marketing plan.
  6. They stop marketing as soon as they have sales. The Survey: 58% only market their products when they do not have sales. They also believe their products are so superior that they do not need to market them at all! The Solution: Execute a systematic marketing plan through content marketing on a weekly basis.
  7. They don’t know how to use or have stopped with social media. The Survey: 54% either do not have a social media strategy or have stopped using it. The Solution: Social media is part of promotion. Use it to form relationships by providing help to customers, prospects and connectors.
  8. They let poor performing employees stay. The Survey: 53% never fire employees since it is too uncomfortable or they are too loyal. The Solution: Be slow to hire and quick to fire. Find the team that makes the company profitable. Fire anyone that does not add productively to the company.
  9. They don’t ask for help. The Survey: 44% never ask for help because they believe they have to figure it out on their own. Many others are unsure of who to ask for help. The Solution: Find a formal or informal group of advisors and mentors to answer pressing questions. Do not go it alone!
  10. They allow personal smartphone usage at work. The Survey: 74% do not monitor personal use of smartphones which can destroy company productivity. The Solution: Have a written policy that personal smartphones are not to be used during work except in emergencies.

Bonus: They rarely review their financial statements. The Survey: Over 20% never look at their financial statements because they are hard to understand. The Solution: Get trained to understand every line of the company’s financial statement. Review them monthly.

Tell me where you are stuck!


4 Ways To Be Happier (and More Successful) Every Day

Are you happy every day? Most days? Not very often? Happiness is a tricky topic, especially for small business owners. Many entrepreneurs feel that happiness comes only after a business has reached a benchmark, but as Elaine Suess, leadership and talent management coach for Beyondbeing Coaching & Consulting in Cincinnati, explains, success before happiness is a misconception.

“Science has proven that it is the other way around,” she says. “Happiness comes first and it helps our brains work more productively to then be successful.”

Need help boosting your feelings of happiness? Take note of the following recommendations.

Meditate at your desk

Meditation has been proven to increase feelings of happiness. Try doing it for two to 10 minutes at your desk by taking deep breaths and focusing on clearing your mind. “Anything that creates more of an open space in your mind makes room for innovation, kindness and curiosity,” says Suess, adding that it is best to sit up straight with your feet on the ground and just letting go of whatever enters your mind, “without judgment.”

Practice being a “hero”

Suess says it is important to prepare yourself for positive thoughts. One way to do this is by assuming a “hero pose” before going into a big meeting or a stressful work situation. “The hero pose is the same gesture people make when they cross a finish line and lift up their arms,” she says. “Strategically making use of that one pose helps increase testosterone and decrease cortisol, the chemical related to stress.”

In addition, try taking an exercise break in the middle of your day. If you don’t have a gym at your office, consider walking around your building or parking lot. The movement will help you produce feelings of happiness.

Be grateful

Spend time every day thinking about what you are grateful for. Consider writing down three specific things that you are grateful for and continuing that practice. Your focus on being grateful will train your brain to look at the positive aspects of your life, says Suess.

Positively review your day

On your way home from work, instead of rehashing mess-ups or aggravating situations, try to focus on the positive things that happened in your day. “Think about what went well,” she suggests. “We all have a tendency to focus on our problems and wanting to fix those problems, but if we train ourselves to amplify what is going right in our lives, it will make us more effective, more positive and increase happiness.” 

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2014 Resolutions: How to Promote Wellness in Your Company

office-yogaWith the New Year right around the corner, everyone is thinking about how to get back into shape, improve what they eat and live better lives. That way of thinking can easily be applied in the office setting and, according to Lisa Menninger, a corporate wellness consultant, business owners are smart to incorporate health-related practices during the workday.

“For every dollar a company spends on wellness, they get back $5 to $6 in decreased insurance claims, a decreased number of employee sick days and an increase in general efficiency on the job,” she says.

Here are a few easy ways to promote wellness in your company:

Start a walking club

Chances are good that your employees are looking to get healthier in 2014. Help them in their effort by creating a walking club where a group meets for a 30-minute stroll at lunch or after work, recommends Menninger. Establish a daily meeting time and ask a staff volunteer to lead the group. Better yet: divide leadership responsibilities between a few people to increase the chances of the program lasting past January.

Throw out the break room

Take inventory of the snacks in your break room. Are you finding chips and dip or carrots and hummus? If your answer is the former, it’s time to get out the trashcan and start over.

“Don’t stock fake creamer or fruit juices. Instead, cut up veggies and put them out on the table,” suggests Menninger. “I promise that those goodies will be gone in no time. By supplying the room with healthy snacks, your employees will no longer reach for the other stuff. They will be fuller longer or have more energy to get work done.”

Launch a health-related newsletter

Take a moment to think about your staff members. Who is the healthiest person in your office? The person who runs races on the weekends or talks about his or her yoga retreats on a regular basis?

“If you have someone in your group that can recognize good information, ask that person to circulate blogs on health topics or create an internal newsletter to help motivate employees throughout the year,” says Menninger. “Either that, or give the person a corner of your existing newsletter to write a column about health.” 


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: The Easy Way to Keep Your Team Healthy

businesswoman eating saladWhile the full effect of the Affordable Care Act remains to be seen, there’s one smart move every small business owner can take to build a healthier workforce: Start a workplace wellness program. You’ll get healthier employees, reduced absenteeism and greater productivity—and may even see lower insurance costs as a result.

A workplace wellness program can be an official effort with solutions provided by your health insurance company; an informal arrangement where you as the boss encourage, promote and support healthier habits; or a mixture of both. Here are some ideas to get started.

Find out what your insurance offers. If you offer employees health insurance, talk to your provider to see if the plan offers wellness programs such as smoking cessation, reimbursement for gym memberships, acupuncture treatment or weight loss programs. You may even be eligible for premium discounts based on employees’ participation in such programs.

Match the program to your employees’ needs. What health issues do your employees need help with? If you have a lot of overweight employees on staff, for example, programs to encourage weight loss or exercise would be a good fit. Survey your employees to see where their interests lie—the more involved they are in creating the wellness program, the more likely they are to participate.  

Walk the walk. There’s no point in starting a wellness program if you, the boss, live on coffee and cigarettes. Set an example by making an effort to eat better and make time for relaxation and exercise in your day.

Get active. It’s easy to make the workday more active without putting on sweatpants for an hour-long workout. Try holding meetings standing up or walking (either outdoors or in the hallways), investing in a couple of standing desks for employees to use, or getting on the PA every hour to lead everyone in a group stretch or quick walk around the office.

Get expert help. Contact your local hospital, yoga studio, gym, Weight Watchers office or other health-related organization to see what outreach programs they have. Perhaps you can get the local yoga studio owner to lead a quick class, then offer discounts to employees who join the studio. You can even barter for services like this (designing the studio’s website in return for a discount on classes).


How to Eliminate Workplace Stress

As summer vacations become a distant memory and the holidays near, it’s inevitable that our schedules are going to become a little more hectic. While a certain amount of stress is inevitable, the fact is stress is toxic to the body. The American Psychological Association says that stress can result in headaches, muscle tension, chest pain, fatigue, upset stomach, insomnia, anxiety, lack of motivation, lack of focus, irritability, depression, and the list goes on.

The following are some useful tips that can help you reduce stress in the workplace, and limit the time it does occur.

Time Management

Managing work time effectively is a sure way to help you prioritize and get projects done at a reasonable time, which can drastically lower your work stress levels. Create a balanced schedule between work and your family/personal life. Also, don’t over-commit to doing too much and scheduling more than you can handle. Planning regular breaks helps to break the monotony and come back feeling recharged.

Control your Emotions

Even if you’re in a job where the environment is stressful, you can retain your own inner calm through your “emotional intelligence” says HelpGuide.org. “Emotional intelligence is about communicating with others in ways that draw people to you, overcome differences, repair wounded feelings, and defuse tension and stress.”

Emotional intelligence in the workplace has four major components:

  • Self-awareness – The ability to recognize your emotions and their impact while using gut feelings to guide your decisions.
  • Self-management – The ability to control your emotions and behavior and adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Social awareness – The ability to sense, understand, and react to other’s emotions and feel comfortable socially.
  • Relationship management – The ability to inspire, influence, and connect to others and manage conflict.

Exercise

One sure way to dispel unwanted stress is to step outside and go for a quick walk, or even a jog. You can eat lunch at your desk and spend your lunch break at the gym or outside jogging.

Laugh

Laughing doesn’t mean you don’t confront challenges seriously, it means that you can smile at a task and meet it with lightness, rather than being overly serious or stressed. If you can get somebody else in on the joke, all the better.

 




 
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