Taking care of yourself and managing your energy at work are two keys to success toward Thoughtful Leadership™. If you are stressed out, overworked, short on patience and temper, and feeling unhealthy, you won’t be able to show up as the effective, focused, and inspiring leader that you want to be.

Taking time in the workday to step away from your work, get your body in motion, clear your mind a bit, and take a break pays huge dividends. There are many studies that demonstrate how taking breaks during the day actually enables you to be more productive (read that: get more done) than sitting at your desk non-stop plowing through work.

Exercising and eating right are often the first sacrifices you make when work piles up. You skip your workout; blow off or skimp on breakfast (the most important meal of the day); and grab unhealthy snacks, sugar, or caffeine to keep you going late in the day. But making your exercise time sacrosanct and taking time to eat healthy gives you much more energy and strength to accomplish what you need to get done. To get better at self-care, it is important to establish and commit to healthy daily habits – setting reminders to get up from your desk periodically; finding a buddy for an early-morning, midday, or after-work walk or run; packing healthy snacks; standing when possible; taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It is also important to take advantage of wellness programs and perks offered by your organization.

Many organizations are understanding and embracing the idea of self-care and are finding ways to provide opportunities for employees to practice self-care at work:

  •  A law firm in Ohio offers in-office yoga classes for employees and provides treadmill desks for those employees who would like to walk and run while reading a brief or doing other sedentary work. Many companies offer onsite concierge services like dry cleaning, car washing, errand running, and oil changes so that employees can easily get chores done and free up time at home.
  • State-of-the-art fitness centers and generous gym subsidies are another resource found at several companies. An Oklahoma energy company offers indoor beach volleyball, rock climbing, and swimming in its onsite fitness facility.
  • Google is well-known for its free food benefit. All of the healthy food at the company’s dining facilities are offered free of charge to employees all day.

Other companies are taking larger steps to demonstrate to employees that time off is important and necessary. A Maryland insurance company gives employees one-month paid sabbaticals after 10 years of service and every five years after that.

A company in Nebraska followed the lead of IBM, Gallup and Netflix as one of the many companies making the switch to an unlimited leave policy. Employees can take as many sick days and vacation days as they choose, so long as they accomplish their goals.

Statistics show that this focus on self-care pays off for companies, with lower turnover, higher productivity, stronger morale, and increased employee engagement. And if you’re wondering how organizations come up with these ideas for employee perks, it’s simple. They say that the best ideas for workplace wellness and self-care perks come from employees themselves. You just have to ask.

What ways do you practice self-care at work? How can your organization support employees in practicing self-care?
Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For help in focusing on your self-care, contact Robyn at rmcleod@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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