Arianna Huffington on Wellness for Workaholics
At The Huffington Post, since the news never stops, and there is the temptation for editors, reporters, and engineers to try to match the 24-hour news cycle, we do a lot to prevent burnout.
First, we make it very clear that no one is expected to check work email and respond after hours or over the weekend (unless, of course, these are their working hours). Everyone has at least three weeks of vacation time, which they are highly encouraged to take. And I have implored HuffPosters--without much success, I must admit--to eat lunch away from their desks.
We also have two nap rooms in our newsroom, which are now full most of the time, even though they were met with skepticism and reluctance when we installed them in the spring of 2011. Many were afraid their colleagues might think they were shirking their duties by taking a nap. We've made it very clear, however, that walking around drained and exhausted is what should be looked down on--not taking a break to rest and recharge. In our New York offices we host meditation, breathing, and yoga classes throughout the week, while our new Washington, D.C., offices have dedicated meditation, yoga, and nap rooms. This is not just good for those who work at HuffPost; it's good for HuffPost.
At Facebook, COO Sheryl Sandberg has said publicly that she leaves the office at 5:30 p.m. to have dinner with her two young children and she encourages others to find schedules that work for them so they can get the time with their families--or just the time for themselves--that they need.
The relationship between overwork and a loss of productivity is consistent regardless of nationality or culture. According to 2012 numbers from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, among European countries, Greece was number one in hours worked, Hungary was second, and Poland third. Their productivity rankings, however, were 18th, 24th, and 25th (dead last). Working the fewest hours were the Dutch, Germans, and Norwegians, who came in at fifth, seventh, and second in productivity.
Increasingly, companies are realizing that their employees' health is one of the most important predictors of the company's health, as well. In those all-important Wall Street conference calls, business analysts, in addition to asking about sales reports, market share, and earnings, should be quizzing CEOs about their employees' stress levels.
One of the primary obstacles keeping many businesses from adopting more sane and sustainable metrics of success is the stubborn--and dangerously wrongheaded--myth that there is a trade-off between high performance at work and taking care of ourselves. This couldn't be less true.
And soon, the companies that still believe this will be in the minority. Right now, about 35 percent of large and midsize U.S. employers offer some sort of stress-education program, including Target, Apple, Nike, and Procter & Gamble. And those that do are starting to be recognized for their efforts, especially by employees. Glassdoor.com, the social jobs and careers community, releases an annual list of the top 25 companies for work-life balance: "Companies that make sincere efforts to recognize employees' lives outside of the office," said Glassdoor's Rusty Rueff, "will often see the payoff when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent."
In 2013, among Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For," several stood out for their commitment to well-being. Salesforce.com, which offers free yoga, a $100 benefit for wellness, and 48 hours of paid time to volunteer, came in at number 19. At number four was the Boston Consulting Group, which flags employees working too many long weeks with a "red zone report" and allows new hires to delay starting for six months and receive $10,000 when they volunteer to work for a nonprofit.
At Promega, a biotech company in Wisconsin, employees have access to on-site yoga classes, fitness centers, healthy meals, offices filled with natural light, and "third spaces"--community areas that are neither work nor home, such as cafés and lounges. "You create a culture of wellness," Promega's chief medical officer, Ashley G. Anderson, Jr., said. "If you create a culture in which vibrant physicality is an admired thing, you've achieved a lot. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce."
Excerpted and condensed from Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington. Copyright © 2014 by Christabella, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Harmony Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON | President, Huffington Post Media Group
Arianna Huffington is the chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of fourteen books. Her latest, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, was published by Crown in March.