Here at Happythreads, employee wellness, mental health and having a work/life balance has always been a priority and is intertwined with our company values. Staff are entitled to annual wellness vouchers, hybrid working and our employee of the month earns extra time off! We also have access to free daily smoothies and fruit, and pizza Fridays which promotes interaction with other employees and is something to look forward to at the end of each week. This month as we celebrated wellness at Happythreads, we wanted to ask the amazing Happythreads’ staff about what kind of activities they take part in that contributes to their wellness, how they relax and destress, and how they try to achieve a work/life balance.
First, let’s take a look at what ‘Wellness’ actually means. Is it connected to our physical health or mental health? What’s the difference between wellness and wellbeing, and does this have to do with our employment?
What does 'Wellness' actually mean?
The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as “the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health”. They describe how wellness is about having responsibility for improving the choices and actions we take as individuals with the intention of reaching our most optimum holistic health. This can be impacted by the environments we live and work in which is why our overall wellness is connected to our work/life balance. Achieving optimum wellness is connected to these 6 main categories (though it can include more): physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social and environmental.
We asked the lovely employees at Happythreads about what they do to look after their overall wellness, and it turns out that most people shared a love of common activities they like to take part in to help relax outside of work, be social and achieve a work/life balance.
Happythreads Employee Wellness Survey
What are your favourite activities to do in your free time?
‘I love reading, walking in nature, spending time with family and close friends.’
It turns out that reading, getting outside to walk in nice places and spending quality time with family and friends is what Happythreads staff love to do most in their free time. These three activities also happen to cross over 3 of the 6 dimensions of wellness: mental, social and physical!
What do you like to do to relax?
‘I am a big believer in rest - it's not something we have to earn, we need to rest to survive and thrive! So I am happy spending time being unproductive every day. Just having a sit down and a cup of tea and watching something silly on TV is very underrated. Sharing a cup of tea and a chat with friends is also something I consider medicinal.’
‘I like reading, meditation and walking or being in nature generally, on the beach, in the garden etc.'
Is spending time outside in nature important to you? What are your favourite activities to do outside?
‘It's important to me to get out and drive somewhere new and go for a long leisurely walk. It clears your head and opens your mind to relax and enjoy what's around you.’
‘YES! I cycle 5/6 days a week. I would go for a walk before and after work if I am working from home. I feel these activities are great dividers between work and personal life.’
‘I always feel like being out in nature brings a feeling of space and time to breathe. I love walking a quiet beach on an overcast day or dawdling through a natural green forest. In Japan there is a custom of "tree bathing" which is a slow amble through a forest, it's believed to be very good for your health! I agree!’
Do you like to learn new things? Is there anything in particular you’re actively learning about currently?
‘Yes, psychology, spirituality, parenting and learning about how people interact and relationships work generally.’
‘I love learning new things and getting better at things. I am learning 3D rendering at the moment and learning more about AI as well. Really want to try lino cutting and screenprinting.’
‘I love to learn new things whether it's through books, people or studying.’
What hobbies or passions do you have that allow you the opportunity to express creativity?
‘I am a terrible crafter but I enjoy knitting and making things with yarn. I am a firm believer in the fact that you don't have to be good at things to be able to enjoy them. If the hat is wonky, it doesn't matter, so long as I enjoy making it. It's got character!’
‘I have too many I'd say. I love painting, drawing, knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching, making totes and t-shirts. There are just so many and I do enjoy them thoroughly.’
Have you ever taken part in yoga or meditation type activities? What did you think?
‘Yes, I attend pilates once a week. I find this activity the hardest to attend each week. Both from a financial point of view and finding the extra hour in the day to attend. It is the one activity that in my mind I can drop each week. I suppose it is something that I need to prioritise.’
‘Yoga and meditation are things that work really well for me. Being able to tune out the world and just focus on your body, breathing and mind is a great tool for wellness. It doesn't work for everyone, but it's definitely worth a go if you haven't tried it.’
How do you achieve a work/life balance?
‘I get up early to get ready for the day. When I'm at work I concentrate on work. When I leave work, I leave work related things at work until the next day. It clears your mind and helps me to distress.’
‘This is a hard one. I disconnect my phone from work apps at 4:30 everyday. I have set my phone up to do this. I have found personally that starting work earlier and finishing earlier gives me greater time to commit myself to personal tasks/hobbies. Finishing at 5 or 6 I find it hard to dedicate time elsewhere. Demanding workloads are difficult not to bring home but I suppose that is the role I have agreed to do.’
‘Honestly, I am not very good at it. Many parts of my job are what interests me so I naturally spend a lot of time reading and thinking about those topics. My work apps mute at a certain time of the day so that I am not drawn to work things. Admittedly, sometimes I prefer working late as I get a bit of time to focus on my tasks and tasks that are important to me.’
How can companies help promote wellness among employees?
‘It is a very difficult thing for companies as wellness means something else to everyone. I think trying to help with achieving work-life balance is what companies should work on first. Sure, a spa retreat sounds great but if the employees are overworked, in a stressful and unsupportive environment then it is just performative. Afterwards, supporting employees in wellness activities of their choice is a good idea eg. with a wellness voucher.’
‘The most important thing is for companies to realise that their employees are people who need to be well to do their best at work. Employees need to have a safe workplace, fair wages, fair conditions and fair workloads in the very first place. Enabling access to confidential mental health supports is also important, as is the ability to work flexibly and be accommodated if life should change suddenly. I'm glad to work at Happythreads because the understanding is there that being well at work is not just a one hour mandatory lunchtime seminar on wellness, it's a holistic thing that the company actively strives for across all factors.’
‘Ensuring staff take annual leave, wellness vouchers, and good communication with line managers to ensure workload is manageable.’
Now that you’ve heard about what Happythreads employees think about wellness, here are a few of our tips for how you can contribute to your own personal wellness journey through the 8 dimensions.
Social: It’s really important to build positive relationships at home and at work so you feel happy and supported in the workplace, so this could mean employers organising regular group activities or encouraging people to chat with their colleagues during lunch. At Happythreads, we find pizza Fridays great for this since everyone’s lunch arrives at the same time. It's a chance for everyone to spend time together where lunches are usually staggered. Outside of work, this might look like organising to do an activity with family or friends, or even putting time aside for a zoom coffee catch up!
Mental: Creating a relaxation and self care strategy that works best for you. This might include mindfulness or meditation practices in the morning or for a few minutes throughout the day, scheduling a long bath once a week, or speaking to family, friends or a professional about what’s on your mind. Creating a supportive work environment and helping employees have access to mental health services is really important.
Environmental: Our environmental wellness is about how we connect with our surroundings both at home and at work so that it supports our wellbeing, and makes us feel positive about our surroundings. We can do this by ensuring we are exposed to natural light and good air quality, looking after our planet by recycling and reducing waste, and making sure our work and living spaces are decluttered. At Happythreads we no longer use single use plastic bottles, we have recycling bins in the canteen and lots of plants around the office that help with both creating a calming environment and helping with air quality.
Intellectual: Looking after our intellectual wellness means exposing ourselves to new ideas, activities and cultures. Some ways of actively pursuing intellectual wellness is to make sure employees have an opportunity to learn and develop new skills through courses or workshops. This is supported at Happythreads with staff training that is aligned both with team member’s job descriptions and their interests. On a personal level, this might include taking up a new hobby, learning a language or visiting new places.
Physical: Looking after your physical wellness isn’t just about exercise. Of course it’s great to take part in physical activity of any kind whether that’s walking, going to the gym or dancing! However, creating a good sleep routine to ensure you feel refreshed in the morning, and tracking how much water you’re drinking are two other important ways to improve your physical wellness.
Spiritual: Looking after your spiritual wellness can come in many forms. In recent years we’ve learned about the many benefits of meditation and yoga, but we can also look after our spiritual wellness by regular journaling, taking part in community events, or by spending some time in nature.
Looking after your wellness is a personal pursuit and means actively engaging in things that help improve each aspect of our wellness, but employers play a big part in facilitating this by creating a supportive work environment that helps achieve a work/life balance and encourages learning. Employers can engage with employees to find out what wellness looks like to them. Happythreads will use the feedback in our employee wellness survey to see what we can all do to help promote wellness in our company!
We are all different, and our wellness needs differ too. By celebrating what it means to be well at Happythreads, we have been able to look after each other a little better this summer.