In the first post of this series, I described the role of human energy in successful and sustainable execution of change, and suggested that organizations play a critical role in helping people protect, replenish, and build four kinds of energy: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Each of the next posts will focus on one of these areas.
Physical energy is the cornerstone of human well-being. When physical energy is depleted, the other forms of energy are likely to be affected as well–people may not think as clearly; difficult emotions may be more difficult to deal with; meaning and purpose can seem distant. Although the ultimate responsibility for maintaining physical well-being rests with the individual, many things that organizations do can make it easier or more difficult for people to stay physically healthy.
With the help of my friend Megan Neyer, a former Olympic diver who works with elite athletes and others to help them reach their potential, I have identified five building blocks of physical well-being:
Here are some questions for leaders and change agents to consider regarding the organization’s support for physical well-being:
[ ] Rest Does your work schedule allow individuals to have sufficient time for rest and sleep? Do the organization’s norms encourage unusually long hours that limit people’s ability to get sufficient rest? Are people expected to be constantly available outside normal working hours, or are they able to shut down technology to enable relaxation and uninterrupted sleep?
[ ] Nutrition When food is provided at meetings and events, does it include fresh, healthy options in addition to (or instead of) items that are high in sugar and carbohydrates? Do the organization’s norms and practices encourage taking time to eat nutritious meals rather than grabbing quick and often unhealthy fast food or snacks (or skipping meals altogether)? Is there a place where people who bring their own food can store perishable items and heat meals?
[ ] Hydration Is high-quality water (fountains, bottles, etc.) readily available in the workplace at no or very low cost? Do organizational norms support and encourage consumption of water and hydrating foods such as fruits in meetings and in the workplace? Are bathroom facilities clean and readily available?
[ ] Movement Are people who do office work encouraged and supported in regularly taking time to stand, walk, and move around? Are there places available for people to walk, move, or exercise during breaks? Do working hours and organizational norms support individuals who would like to schedule workouts and other physical activities before or after work?
[ ] Breathing Does the pace of work allow breaks in the action that enable people to take time to relax and breathe deeply? Do leaders and others understand the importance of deep, relaxed breathing to well-being? Do people remind one another to breathe deeply when they notice others displaying signs of stress?
[ ] General Does the organization take steps to educate people about how to increase their physical well-being? Do leaders and managers encourage and support the physical well-being of their employees and serve as good role models? Does the organization sponsor wellness programs that encourage employees to increase their physical well-being? Does the organization ensure that the environment is physically safe?
I encourage you to take a few minutes to evaluate your organization and identify some simple changes that can help you, and those around you, create and sustain high levels of physical energy. For Part 3 in this series, click here.