“There’s a desperate need to change our workplace culture so that working till all hours and walking around like zombies becomes stigmatized instead of lauded.” — Arianna Huffington.
The above quotation by Arianna Huffington was made shortly after she collapsed in work from exhaustion and sleep deprivation, hit her head on her desk and broke her cheekbone. She describes stress, overwork and sleep deprivation as being a ‘global epidemic’ that makes us less productive, less creative, less healthy and less happy.
Of course, the company that is considered the Eden of workplace culture is Google. With its slides to replace staircases and scooters as the primary mode of transportation around the offices, Google is known for studying its company culture’s effects on employees’ productivity and happiness. It even has fitness programs and dance classes to support employees’ ability to be creative and innovative. According to Newton Cheng, Google’s Fitness Programs Manager, these classes “support employees’ ability to focus and maintain high cognitive function so it’s not only the right thing to do for the person; it actually supports the business.”
Fortunately, more employers are taking a leaf out of Google’s book and are beginning to realise that prioritizing the health and wellbeing of their employees is the most productive way to profit their company. Although not all companies can afford to keep their employees healthy and happy through dance classes, scooters and slides, there are plenty of other changes that can be made to encourage rest and relaxation for the benefit of the business.
A growing number of companies are coming to recognise the advantages of nap rooms in the workplace. A 20–30 minute nap can help improve concentration by reducing cortisol levels which in turn reduces anxiety and stress levels. Ben and Jerry’s was one of the first high-profile companies to adopt a napping policy and has had an office nap room for over a decade now. Other companies that followed suit shortly after include Uber, Nike and NASA.
A more modern alternative to nap rooms are “Energy pods” which have been designed specifically for office use.
Meditation, breathing classes and yoga.
More employers are realizing that meditation increases alertness, improves listening and decision-making skills and improves employee engagement, so it comes as no surprise that since 2007 Google has offered a range of meditation courses to employees. Other companies that encourage the use of meditation rooms include Nike, HBO and Deutsche Bank. Similarly, Yoga is a popular means of companies investing in the health of their employees. It has been proven that sitting for 5+ hours is a productivity killer so taking part in a quick 20–30 minute yoga session is a great way to get away from the desk and clear mental clutter.
Onsite corporate spas for employees
One of the best kept secrets amongst big companies is the on-site corporate spa. After companies have maxed out all they can do with salaries, benefits and bonuses, they’re looking for additional ways to one up their competitors by offering better company perks to current and potential employees. Spa offerings in a corporate setting allow employees to relax and recharge onsite, without having to try to schedule time during the weekday evenings or weekends. In terms of the benefits for the company, as with nap rooms, meditation and yoga classes, on-site spas create an easy way for employees to have a productive break while at work, resulting in increased morale, focus and productivity.
A corporate spa is essentially a mini-business within the company. The two main ways to run a corporate spa are either through the company itself or through an outside business. If companies choose to run the spa on their own, they’ll need dedicated staff members to focus on the project. It can’t be a spa therapist’s side project — it’s a full time job.
Why don’t more companies offer an on-site spa? Because of the cost and space requirement to set up and run such a program, it’s typically very large companies that have on site spas, such as the Microsoft office in Washington CA. However, smaller companies can still consider giving employees gift cards or consider bringing in a mobile spa service for a one-time event.
Faced with stressful deadlines and endless meetings, it’s common sense that employees are more cost effective and make for a more productive and innovative workforce when they’re at their happiest and healthiest. In other words, it pays to invest in your people.
Originally published at www.spa-gazing.com on October 3, 2016.