Christine Fang, HR Director China/North Asia, Unilever Foodsolutions
Virgil, one Ancient Rome’s greatest poets, was rather ahead of the crowd in his thinking on wellbeing. “The greatest wealth is health,” he observed.
We at Unilever are inclined to agree. By 2020, we will help more than one billion people take action to improve their health and wellbeing. We are uniquely placed to pursue our goal as we are the only multinational consumer goods company with a portfolio across home and beauty & personal care, food and beverages.
Our action goes beyond helping consumers. As Unilever China’s HR Director, I share the responsibility of improving the wellbeing of our own employees too. We were also in 2016 named the number one employer in China, so our actions are already having a direct impact on the positivity surrounding the business - but we know we are on a journey and there is further to go.
That’s why we’re continuing to pioneer the best possible employee support by putting measurable wellbeing actions at the heart of the way we run our workplace environments.
Here, I want to share a few of the tips we’ve been cascading to our employees. If you’re interested in feeling happy (who isn’t?) read on.
Take the pressure off
Sometimes, a lot of projects will fall in your lap at the same time. Rather than spinning more plates than you can handle, you need to figure out which ones are most important. Limited resources and time pressures will mean that prioritising is the only way you can successfully navigate these moments in your career.
A good way to relieve the pressure is to step back from your work. Trust your subconscious to help you solve the problem. After lunch, I regularly go for a walk with my friend around our local neighbourhood. Companionship allied with exercise is the perfect tonic for pressure overload, helping you to switch off and realign your priorities.
Reading and travelling are great too - whenever I’m into a good book, or exploring a new place, I forget everything. It’s a surprisingly efficient refreshing mechanism that helps you return to work in the right frame of mind - and make the right decision when it counts.
Map your energy
In the modern day working environment, there are a thousand things scrambling for your attention. Open-plan offices and hyper-connectivity offer a million opportunities for discussion and collaborative decision-making but they can also eat into your workflow.
Instead of fighting distractions, we should work with them. By mapping your energy throughout the day, you’ll be able to see at which times and in which environments you perform certain tasks best. Once you’ve compiled your energy map, structure your day around it.
With different energy levels, we can achieve different things; accept that you can't put your brightest energy into your work around the clock. You will reap the rewards of this approach when you see that it’s improving not only your wellbeing but your overall productivity too.
No man or woman is an island. We are happiest when we know we have a support network we can rely on. At Unilever China we run a 24/7 Employee Assistant Hotline that offers our people an outlet to communicate with dedicated mental health and wellbeing professionals.
There are many things which you might not be able to discuss with your colleagues or even your family. Our hotline helps our people to release those pressures and get the help they need to improve their situation and their wellbeing. Everyone here knows they are never more than a call, a chat or a click away from the support they need.
If your employer does not have these things in place, try starting your own support network among colleagues at work. Everybody has a shared stake in wellbeing, from the C-Suite to the frontline, so you’ll be surprised how many people will be willing to help you out and get a support scheme going.
Creating a culture of wellbeing - it's down to you
It’s important to remember that wellbeing has to be more than a few tips, or a scheme. It has to be a culture that lives and breathes inside of an organisation. The only way to create a wellbeing culture is to lead by example and encourage everybody around you to believe in its merits and to express it in their day-to-day actions.