Friday, June 20, 2014

Health and well-being tips for the small business owner

Health tips for small businessWhen you’re self-employed and running your own small business, you just can’t afford to get sick – can you?

Staying healthy and feeling good takes on a whole new added meaning when you have customers or a small team that are relying upon you being positive at work. Your own health and the well-being of your employees becomes an important investment that should never be taken for granted.

Your ability to run and grow a successful business will be weakened if you are in a state of either poor physical or mental health (and these two are often inter-connected). When you’re not feeling well, in all likelihood you won’t approach your business with the energy and creativity that is needed to stay ahead of the competition. And if you have staff, then you probably won’t be providing the type of leadership and motivation that is needed for getting the best out of your team.

Ireene Siniakis runs a consulting business that specializes in health promotion. She advises both small business owners as well as executives of large corporations about how they can reduce absenteeism and improve productivity by creating more healthy workplaces. She is a qualified personal trainer and coach. Her website,, offers many great tips on achieving peak performance - for work, sport and life.

Recently, I asked Ireene to share some of her thoughts and experience on what small business owners can do to look after the health and wellness of both themselves and their staff…..

1.          What motivated you to leave the corporate world and start up your own business?
Well you could say I’m working two full-time jobs at the moment as I still manage the health and wellbeing program for a large corporate which has thousands of employees plus work on my own business inspiring and mentoring businesses and individuals to create healthy lives.  Doing both keeps me in the forefront of the challenges people face working in the corporate world.  I keep my energy levels up by practicing what I preach. 

I started my own consulting business so I could inspire more businesses to create healthy vibrant people because I’ve seen the benefits of what a health and wellbeing program can do.  My vision is to not only create healthy bodies, but healthy minds.  A healthy mind is the key to being able to achieve anything in life – as well as being able to enjoy healthy relationships.  I know this as I’ve faced my own personal challenges and understand how debilitating it can be to one’s overall wellbeing.  Establishing my own business allowed me to spread my message even further.

2.          What have you found to be the upsides and the down-sides of running your own business?
The freedom to choose who you want to work with and how you spend your time is a major upside.  I’m very specific about working with businesses or individuals who are ready and serious about creating healthy behaviour changes within themselves or their workplace.   Not everyone wants it.  At least, not until it is too late. 

The downsides are that it can be challenging to stay on top of your game with internet marketing moving at such a rapid rate.  I’m in the midst of developing an online e-Course to help people lose weight and keeping up with new and innovative ways to attract my ideal customer online takes time and research. Cutting through all of the white noise and clutter on the internet and social media to show you are unique and be able to stand out can be challenging. But my passion, persistence, drive and stamina get me through any times of frustration..

3.          From the wellness consulting work that you have done with many small and large companies over the years – what are the major causes of stress and strain for people now-days in the workplace?
Technology has invaded our lives.... It was meant to make our life easier but in actual fact it’s the opposite.  From replying to emails to keeping up with social media as it is all easily accessible on our iPhone and iPad.  It is hard to disconnect from work, especially when you are passionate about what you do.  Therefore, you don’t get the downtime that you need. 

It’s in your downtime that you rejuvenate your mind and body - and you become creative.  But most people are on a treadmill that doesn’t stop.  People eat poorly, are tired and become exhausted.  This not only affects them physically but can also have negative emotional ramifications.  Stress not only impacts their work performance but affects the lives of the people whom they come into contact with, such as their partner and children.  It’s very important that you learn how to strike a healthy work and life balance.

4.          What can employers do to help create a healthy workplace for their staff, that is also good for productivity?

Show you actually care about your employees’ well-being.  Make it part of your company vision because without your employees, you don’t have a business. So take an interest in their lives - learn about their families and their hobbies. Keep an eye on their workload, so that no-one burns themselves out (which highly diligent staff can be prone to do). You win loyalty by showing loyalty.

Also, I’m a true advocate of an extended lunch break.  Imagine what a one hour, or even 90 minute lunch-break could do to cut the obesity rate if people took this opportunity to get some exercise. 

Employees for example, could go to the local gym near their workplace for a half hour work-our; and still have time to shower, change and eat their lunch.  Your employee returns to work thoroughly re-energised.  The extra half hour taken at lunch could be tagged onto the end of the day.  The employee avoids the traffic and feels good knowing they have completed their exercise for the day. This would have a massive impact on productivity levels, work ethic and the business bottom line.

5.          What about the business owners themselves – running a small business can get stressful and overwhelming at times. What advice would you offer them?

Find the right balance between work, health, family, relationships and social life. I schedule everything in my diary as though it is an appointment.  From my daily walk, gym workouts, work meetings and social life, it’s all scheduled.  There is power in writing it down.  Then, these tasks are not just fleeting thoughts on your ‘to do list’ floating around your mind, causing added stress.   

Scheduling clears your mind so you can block out timeslots to focus on the most important tasks like building your business and servicing your customers.
(Interviewer's note - for some good time management tips, take a look at "How to plan your day")

6.          Any final tips on what people can do at work to energise themselves and remain healthy and resilient?

Absolutely, here are my Top 5 Tips for Staying Healthy so that you can accomplish more:

i)        Eat breakfast – start your day off with a healthy protein smoothie jam- packed full of either fruits, vegetables and/or super-foods.  They are simple to whip up and an easy way to include more fruits and veggies in your diet.

ii       )Snack regularly – more importantly, leave your snacks on your desk so you can see them.  Things such as fruit and nuts.  This ensures you graze all day, you stay feeling full and you don’t get tempted to make a poor choice at the cafĂ©.

iii)         Drink more water – it’s not just for hydration.  It keeps you alert. If you’re feeling tired, drink a glass of water for an instant pick me up!  Set reminders on your Google calendar until it becomes a habit.

iv)         Move your body - Get up out of your seat at least every hour and go for a 2 minute walk, even if it’s to the bathroom. It breaks up your day, clears the mind and you return refocused.

v)          Breathe - Recognise your warning signs during the day that you are becoming overwhelmed - then stop what you're doing.  Breathe.  Taking a minute to take a few deep breaths and re-center is vitally important to remaining healthy, positive and resilient. A few deep breaths to clear the mind will help to bring clarity back to your thinking

Thank you Ireene - simple steps which can make a significant difference to maintaining a sound sense of wellbeing. More health tips can be found at Stress Management Techniques

And finally, here's a short video with three tips for keeping yourself motivated -

About the author
Brian Carroll is the founder of Performance Development, a corporate training business in Melbourne, Australia.  He is a qualified psychologist and experienced management coach with a passion for helping people reach their full potential. You can find out more about Brian at his Google + profile