Energy Hacks for Building a Resilient Workplace Culture: Part One

Posted in News on 3rd July 2019

Introducing the five types of workplace energy and sharing two hacks for harnessing ‘physical’ energy…

Energy begets energy. So, it makes sense that managing energy is at the heart of building resilience in the workplace. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is. But only if you understand the nature of energy.

In this, the first of a series of four blogs, I briefly introduce the five types of energy businesses need to harness if they want to build the type of resilient workplace culture worthy of Ibec’s KeepWell Mark. I then share two hacks for harnessing the first type of energy. I’ll be sharing hacks for the other energies over the next four weeks…

Being resilient means having the strength and mental capacity to deal effectively with setbacks and challenges. Doing so requires five types of energy: ‘physical’ energy; ‘thinking’ energy, ‘doing’ energy, ‘relating’ energy and ‘feeling’ energy. I teach around these energies in depth in elbowroom escape’s ‘Workplace Resilience Retreat’ and other related workshops. Starting with ‘physical’ energy, I will be sharing my top energy harnessing hacks over the coming month. These are just a smorgasbord of what’s on offer at our workshops and retreats though. Interested in learning more? Get in touch!  

How can you better manage ‘physical’ energy in the workplace?

If you want to lead change, experience has taught me to start with the physical. One reason this is so effective is that quick, easy physical changes lead to quick, lasting wins. Starting with the physical generates momentum, a momentum that you can carry through to the other energy types you need to sustain a resilient workplace culture.

So, how can you enable your employees to better manage physical energy in the workplace? Well, ultimately, you need to embed policies and practices into your people strategy, something we explore in our workshops and corporate retreats. In the meantime though, here are my top two hacks for harnessing physical energy in the workplace.

Hack 1: To sustain a resilient workplace culture, you can encourage employees to eat for energy

What you eat, how much you eat and when you eat can really affect your energy levels during the day. Whilst all foods give you energy, some contain nutrients that can help increase energy levels and maintain alertness and focus throughout the day. So, why not provide free fresh fruit and other energy giving snacks, such as nuts and seeds, in your workplace?

Here’s what I’d include in an energy-giving starter pack – and why.

Energy boosting Bananas

According to one academic study, eating a banana before a 75-km cycling trial was as efficient as a carbohydrate drink for improving the performance of endurance athletes. No surprise really, given that bananas are a good source of carbohydrates, potassium and vitamin B6, all proven to boost energy levels

Antioxidating apples

Apples are great at triggering a slow and sustained energy release because they are high in antioxidants, which slows down the digestion of carbohydrates. It’s best to eat them whole though. Nature provided them with their own high fibre packaging (their skins), which helps to slow down digestion and therefore sustains energy release.

Awesome oranges

One orange can provide 106 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. They are high in antioxidants so protect you from energy zapping oxidative stress. In fact, in one study, 13 women who consumed 17 ounces (500 ml) of orange juice and did one hour of aerobic training three times a week for three months saw decreases in muscle fatigue and experienced improvements in physical performance.

Sustaining seeds

Seeds are high in plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, an important source of stored energy that helps your cells function properly. Low levels of fatty acids are linked to inflammation and fatigue. They are also high in fibre and protein. As explained in the apple bit above, fibre helps to slow down digestion and trigger a slow sustained release of energy

Noble nuts

Where to start? High in energy promoting nutrients that provide a slow release of energy throughout the day, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and oxidants, manganese, iron, B vitamins and vitamin E, there’s plenty of evidence of their role in increasing energy production and decreasing tiredness.

Life-giving water

Our body weight is made up of 60 percent water. There is a reason for this. It is involved in many cellular functions, including energy production. Not drinking enough, leads to dehydration, slows down your body function and leaves you feeling sluggish and tired. So, encourage your employees to drink water regularly throughout the day, even if they are not thirsty. This helps with managing ‘thinking’ energy too – true fact that – more about which next week.

Hack 2: To sustain a resilient workplace culture, you can encourage employees to take physical exercise throughout the day

Encouraging employees to take physical energy throughout the day is a good idea. In fact, many of elbowroom’s corporate clients contract us to provide workplace yoga classes. Others pay for (or subsidise) their employees to attend our classes in Dublin or Wicklow.

Tough Love

Even if these benefits seem out of reach for your organisation at the minute, there are simple steps you can introduce to get your team members better managing their physical energy during the day. At the very least, you can encourage them to get up from their desk every so often.

Stand up. Go on, do it now!

Place your feet hip-width apart. Counting to seven, take a deep breath in through your nose whilst stretching your arms up and out, tipping your head back and looking up. Whilst in this position, which you may recognise as part of the ‘Salute to the Sun’ exercise, breathe out through your mouth to the count of 11.

When you’re ready, relax from this position and sit back down.

How do you feel?

Perhaps a bit giddy to start with, but once you’ve acclimatised, you are sure to feel an energy boost. This is because, in taking this small bit of physical exercise and using breath work, you have increased the flow of oxygen to your brain.

How simple was that?

Come on a staff away day to elbowroom escape and we can teach you even more simple energy hacks like this, and help you work out how to embed such practices into your teams’ daily habits. Next week, I’ll take a look at ‘thinking’ energy, and share some simple hacks to get that flowing too. Interesting in finding out more? Then take a look at our previous blog, 9 Steps to Building Your Resilient Workplace Culture, or contact us and ask about our Building Workplace Resilience Retreat course.

Watch a short video about elbowroom escape!

lisa wilkinson

lisa wilkinson

Lisa Wilkinson left a successful career in the corporate world 20 years ago to retrain as a yoga teacher and went on to set up The elbowroom, a well-being hub, in the city of Dublin in 2003. Spurred on by its success, she bought and renovated a mountain lodge in Wicklow, launching it as a retreat venue in 2016, The elbowroom escape. Having directly experienced the impact of a less than ideal work life blend herself, Lisa is passionate about delivering health and happiness in the workplace. Witnessing how doing so has reduced the attrition rate within her own companies, she now offers her expertise to other companies and business owners and is a regular speaker and workshop facilitator on corporate well-being and resilience for organisations including Ibec and Dublin City fm.