What drives high performance? Lessons from the field of sports indicate that it’s a combination of factors. Enterprises that want their people to be engaged, adaptable, and give their best at work, need to take a multi-dimensional approach to employee well-being. One that accounts for psychological, emotional, and spiritual enhancement. But most importantly, one that recognizes the importance of physical well-being too.
How can you achieve it? Jack Groppel and Ben Weigand of Wellness and Prevention, Inc. suggest that we start by acknowledging that the ‘body is business relevant’. In the Biology of Business Performance, they state, “Human beings are biological organisms requiring sleep, nutrition and activity to survive, let alone thrive.” They recommend two powerful practices for teams to adopt:
- Work on resilience
By definition, resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity. It is not so much about endurance, as it is about recovering from and recharging after a period of endurance. Feeling optimistic, positive, accepting challenges, and being proactive are traits of high resilience at the workplace. In a study, researchers Emma Childs and Harriet de Wit found that regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience from acute stress.
Learning for businesses: make exercise and physical activity an integral part of your organizational culture. It does more than just help beat stress. Physical activity also increases oxygen intake in the brain, leading to sharper mental abilities.
- Practice periodization
In sports terminology, periodization is about dividing a seasonal program into smaller periods and training cycles. This combats physical and mental stress. Psychologist K. Anders Ericsson of The Florida State University studied how people achieve the highest levels of expertise. He concluded that extremely talented people in different disciplines—music, sports, writing—rarely practice more than four hours each day on an average. He observed, “Individuals often encounter overtraining injuries and, eventually, incapacitating burnout without breaks.”
Learning for businesses: get people to disengage and re-engage with tasks through the day. Encourage taking breaks and consumption of low-glycemic snacks. They help glucose trickle slowly into the blood stream and keep people going for long.
Wondering if organizations actually adopt such practices? Here’s something to inspire you: Colliers International, a commercial real estate company in the US, monitors the well-being of employees. Their employees wear devices to measure and track heart rate, levels of productivity, and stress. If a monitor detects increased stress or decreased productivity, it suggests a short break for physical activity, or even packing up for the day! After all, the body does know best.