Health and wellness have been on my mind a lot lately as I prepare for the launch of a new Health and Wellness Community of Practice that will soon join TMGov’s other communities of practice as a leading edge place for discussion, learning, and connection. A major lifestyle shift has occurred over the past few decades as jobs have become more sedentary and work hours have become longer. Not only does this change mean less physical activity, but also greater mental and emotional stress as the work-life balance tips toward the work side of the scale. Adding to this imbalance are smartphones, which enable emails to be read as soon as they arrive in your inbox. While reading and responding to that email right away can be tempting, a recent Government Executive article states that many companies “are instituting e-mail rules instructing employees to stay off after close of business and, if they can't stay away, to read and not reply.” Failing to set limits on your workday can actually make you less productive, as discussed in a previous blog post. Working longer hours also means less time to stay fit; but, as Dr. Jack Groppel of the Human Performance Institute said, “In the business world, if we’re not taking care of the body, we’re making mistakes.” Many businesses are starting to realize how vital their employees’ health and wellness are to their engagement and productivity in the workplace, and this is just as true for those working in the public sector.
Investing in the health and wellness of an organization’s employees means investing in an asset, because that’s what human capital really is. Businesses and government can no longer care only about employees’ brains; they must care about the whole package. I like the analogy Dr. Jim Loehr, of the Human Performance Institute, uses: think of the brain as a software program and the body as the operating system or power supply—the software program is going to be faulty if the power supply is not running at its best. An individual is not merely his or her brain; we must have healthy minds and bodies. Lower healthcare costs, fewer sick days, higher productivity, and less stress are all benefits of having healthy workers. Dr. Loehr’s insight on healthy employees applies just as relevantly to government: “Taking care of the body is taking care of business.”