I recently had the opportunity to visit the University of Cincinnati and tour the Campus Recreation Center with Kim Schmidt, the director of recreation. While you will learn more about the visit in an upcoming issue of the magazine, one thing that really stood out to me was the working environment.
Schmidt stressed that work is just that…work. It is a job. It can be easy to get bogged down in the challenges we face daily at work and they can way on us. But in most cases, they are not life or death. Work is just work. Schmidt strives to keep the mood light in order to remind staff of this.
Here are a few tips for making your working environment healthier both emotionally and physically for your employees.
- Promote Social Time. Schmidt encourages the campus rec team at the University of Cincinnati to spend 20 minutes with a different employee each week. “You don’t have to talk about work, but just find out more about them,” she explained. “Tell me about your family? Tell me about your siblings? One of our veteran employees who has been with us for three years was part of a national Got Milk campaign and also had a role on the soap opera Days of Our Lives and none of us knew. Sometimes when you don’t ask questions, you don’t get answers.”
- Encourage Employees to Disconnect. Now with mobile phones and apps it is easy to check email, text and stay in contact 24/7. It is now normal to bring work home or even work while on vacation. No one ever seems to actually take time off anymore and actually disconnect. But it is important to re-draw the line between our work life and personal life. Therefore, we can come to work refreshed and ready to go.
- Offer Flexible Schedules. Not everyone can wake up and get their brains working at 8am. Some find that they are more productive later in the evening. It shouldn’t matter so much when you work, as long as you are getting your responsibilities done. “We try to be as flexible as we can,” said Schmidt. “If you have intramural sports training at night and you don’t come in until noon, that’s fine. “If it is because of your family schedule that it works for you to come in a 6am and it meets the need of the department and you are responsible and get your work done, we are flexible.”
- Require Office Moving. I’m sure you have heard by now that sitting is the new smoking. Try to find unique and fun ways to get employees up and moving. Whether it is setting an alarm and making everyone go for an office walk every hour, hosting hourly stretching sessions or investing in a few standing desks, getting up and moving around is not only great for your health but also your sanity.
Do you have any fun practices that promote a fun, healthy working environment? We would love to hear about them!