National Work Life Week 2021

This week is National Work Life Week — an annual campaign run by the UK charity Working Families —  to get both employers and employees talking openly about wellbeing at work, as well as managing a work-life balance.[1]

In light of this, Natalie Rogers, Chief People Officer at Unum, has provided some helpful tips for employees to assist with workplace wellbeing:  

  1. Prepare for the working day

Whether in the office or working remotely, it’s important to prepare yourself both physically and mentally for the day ahead.[2] Taking the time to get ready and eat a nutritious breakfast before heading to the office or home workstation can get you in the right frame of mind.  Home workers could also try introducing a “fake commute” into their routine. This may include going for a walk or meditating before and after work to clearly demarcate when your working day starts and ends.

  1. Move regularly and take breaks

Despite an uptick in people starting to commute again,[3] in general the time we spent travelling has been greatly reduced. While this might be a bonus, this also reduces movement each day. To avoid a sedentary lifestyle, try the 40:20 rule: For every 40 minutes you sit, make sure you spend 10 minutes standing or moving followed by 10 minutes of stretching to help reduce the pressure and strain on your joints.[4] The added privacy of working from home allows you the chance to try out some exercises at your desk too.

If you’re tight for time, microbreaks away from your workstation are equally beneficial. These can range from 30 seconds to 2 minutes and can be filled with whatever you see fit, whether that is making a cup of tea, washing a few dishes or sending a quick text.

  1. Practice mindfulness

The essence of mindfulness is being able to be fully present in the moment, free from outside thoughts and distractions.[5] Being in this state allows you to be aware of your thoughts and feelings, without feeling overwhelmed. Try to take the time out to escape the digital world and find a few moments of peace in your hectic schedule each day. Step back and just concentrate on the present, rather than focusing on what has happened or what will happen.

There are many benefits to this, including helping with depression, anxiety, addictive behaviour and chronic pain. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence even recommends it as a method to prevent bouts of depression recurring.[6]

  1. Stick to your working hours

When hybrid working, it can be easy to slip into bad habits and work far later or earlier than your core hours. Working significantly longer or later each day is not beneficial on your physical or mental health and can lead to extra stress, burnout or even a stroke.[7]  If you do find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do would be to speak to your line manager about your workload.

  1. Use your EAP for emotional and practical support

An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), such as Unum’s LifeWorks, can provide you with emotional and practical support to tackle concerns about your own or someone else’s emotional wellbeing at work.

In addition, Unum Group Income Protection customers can speak to their line manager and be referred for a Unum Rehab Wellbeing Check if they are struggling with their wellbeing in areas such as difficulty managing workloads, motivation, self-care, time management or personal stressors.