This is week, as part of KUHR’s Wellbeing month, we thought we’d highlight something that is becoming more popular to incorporate in our everyday lives, not just at home, but at work too – we’re talking about Mindfulness. So, it’s over to expert Justin Standfield from Incendo Development who’s written our guest blog to give us a bit more background on the subject:
Living in the moment
These days – possibly more than ever before – we can easily become so caught up with ‘getting things done’ that we fail to just ‘be’ in the present moment.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether we are working or at home, studying or travelling, alone or with others – so many of us are missing the beauty of life and we probably don’t realise how quickly it’s passing us by.
Mindfulness is a response to this phenomenon and it’s based on an ancient practice of encouraging awareness, clarity, and acceptance of the present moment.
Pink and Fluffy
I’ll admit, the way that some people package up mindfulness comes across as a bit esoteric and somewhat “pink and fluffy”, so here’s an everyday definition of mindfulness that might work for you:
It’s a proven method of observing our thoughts, feelings and perceptions in a more helpful way.
I’ve used the word ‘proven’ deliberately because a large body of research on mindfulness meditation has existed for quite some time.
Most of the well-known benefits of mindfulness tend to be more personal than work-related, even though it’s clear that if the whole person is happier there is a positive payoff for the employer. For example, regular mindfulness practice has been shown to develop characteristics and skills such as:
- enhanced immune system function
- increased emotional intelligence
- improved memory
- increased creativity
- enhanced resilience
- improved listening skills
- greater control over thoughts
- stress management
- increased focus and concentration
In the Corporate World
If we apply these to any corporate environment, it’s easy to see that the benefits of mindfulness could be far-reaching; in fact, this is becoming increasingly backed-up by scientific research.
This is important for any manager who’s thinking about bringing mindfulness into their workplace, but perhaps has doubts about whether it really makes a difference.
A range of studies of the benefits of mindfulness at work have been published in major peer-reviewed journals in recent years. From these studies, we know that mindfulness is a trainable skill and has benefits for organisations as well as individuals, that include (but aren’t limited to) areas such as improved performance, enhanced leadership, better relationships and an increase in overall happiness. Here’s a brief summary of some of these studies:
Improvement in performance, job satisfaction, and wellbeing
In a recent study, the effect of mindfulness meditation on work-related wellbeing and job performance was evaluated and it was found that managers who took part in an 8-week mindfulness course finished it with:
- Greater levels of job satisfaction
- Higher job performance
- Lower levels of work-related stress
- Decreased psychological distress
The training included themes like compassion, perspective-taking, patience and generosity; the researchers believe that these elements play a key role in greater wellbeing and performance at work by improving employees’ attention and focus, response to stressors, and aligning oneself to organisational goals.
Source: Shonin, Van Gordon, Dunn, Singh & Griffiths (2014)
Positive impact on productivity and health
According to a Harvard Business review article, the American health insurance company, Aetna, estimated that one year after instituting it’s corporate mindfulness programme it had saved about $2000 per employee in healthcare costs and gained about $3000 per employee in productivity. Employees expressed reduced levels of stress and recorded improved heart rate measurements. Source: Gelles (2015)
Greater confidence and alignment with organisational goals
A 2014 study found that participants in an 8-week mindfulness course experienced a shift in attitude towards work; specifically, that work was less of a separate part of their lives, but an important place where they can learn and grow. They also felt that they were better able to identify with corporate strategy and organisational goals. The participants reported an increased ability to navigate and interact with work-related stressors and situations, which bred a sense of confidence around decision-making. Source: Shonin (2014)
Improved decision-making and productivity
80% of the senior executives who went through a mindfulness meditation programme at General Mills reported improved decision-making abilities. 83% of all participants said they were ‘taking time each day to optimise my personal productivity’, which was an increase of 23% from before the course. Source: Gelles (2015)
A 2014 study with employees of Intel following the introduction of a mindfulness programme called [email protected] showed a range of benefits. On average, participants responding to pre- and post- self-evaluation questionnaires reported a 2-point decrease (on a 10-point scale) in experiencing stress and feeling overwhelmed, a 3-point increase in overall happiness and wellbeing, and a 2-point increase in having new ideas and insights, mental clarity, creativity, the ability to focus, the quality of relationships at work and the level of engagement in meetings, projects and collaboration efforts. Source: Wong (2014)
As Jon Kabat-Zinn puts it:
“[Meditation] has no goal other than for you to be yourself. The irony is that you already are. This sounds paradoxical and a little crazy. Yet this paradox and craziness may be pointing you toward a new way of seeing yourself, one in which you are trying less and being more.”
If you’d like a bit more first-hand experience of mindfulness in order to be convinced, drop me a line at [email protected] and we can have a chat about setting up a taster session for you and your employees at your workplace.
To find out more about Incendo’s successful ‘Developing Mindfulness At Work’ programme that can be tailored to your organisation’s needs, take a look at our Corporate Mindfulness web page at: http://www.incendo-uk.com/services/mindfulness-workshops/.
For KUHR’s Wellbeing month, we couldn’t really let it go by without mentioning the importance of physical exercise. So, it’s over to our guest blogger – Personal Trainer, Greg Small:
“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
With the above quote in mind…
- Can you afford to take sick days?
- Do you feel that you lack focus?
- Do you often struggle to focus and have a lack of mental clarity?
If you have answered ‘yes‘ to any of those questions then it’s safe to say that you need to be more physically active.
Benefits of physical exercise
Regularly undertaking physical activity can help to improve your fitness levels by putting your body under positive stress.
When you put your body under this positive stress, it can provide positive adaptations such as;
- increased lung function
- improved muscular strength
- improved muscular endurance
This can all help you to be able to carry out physical and mental daily tasks with more ease than before.
Regular exercise is great for small business owners in particular because looking after your health by maintaining a healthy mind and body is important to help reduce your risk of taking unnecessary days off work due to preventable illnesses.
Wake up and move!
The body thrives on routine and we were made to move.
Partaking in physical exercise before you begin your working day can leave you with an enormous sense of wellbeing and a positive outlook on the day ahead.
I firmly believe in ‘getting up and getting on’ being the best course of action to improve your wellbeing. So my advice is to start the day with a pre-work workout.
Exercise helps with the production of endorphins and serotonin – our pain relief and happy hormones. Both of these hormones assist in the regulation of metabolism, sleep, concentration and motivation.
A recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that regular, aerobic exercise can boost the size of the hippocampus – the area of the brain involved in verbal memory, learning and emotions.
Exercise is a great release from the pressures of work and can help you to relax and refocus. It can provide you with valuable ‘me’ time.
The benefits of exercise are vast ranging from physical to mental health. If you are having a bad day mentally it can help you to focus, release the stress built up and to calm you down and make you feel energised. Regular exercise can help with sleep which in turn provides one with increased confidence and energy.
General wellbeing improvement
Wellbeing does not mean that you are happy all the time and it does not mean that you won’t experience negative or painful emotions, such as grief, loss or failure, which are part of normal life.
Regardless of your age, being physically active can help you to lead a mentally healthier life and can help improve your wellbeing.
By participating regularly in physical activity;
- we can feel an increase in self-esteem
- it can help to reduce stress and anxiety
- it can also play a role in preventing the development of mental health problems
- it can help give you a more positive outlook
How you exercise
Whether you decide to exercise on your own, with a partner or in groups the main objective is to enjoy exercise and the benefits it brings.
A good place to start is to invest in your health and seek out the advice and services of a professional. A professional will provide you with the tools to succeed and provide you with the support you need to lead a healthy and productive lifestyle.
Decide what your goal is and why you want to exercise regularly and from there you and a fitness professional can help to map out the best route to take.
- In order to improve your wellbeing make sure that you prioritise physical exercise as it can help with your health, fitness, and focus.
- Keeping physically active can help reduce the likelihood of developing problems with high blood pressure, mobility, cancer, obesity, and heart disease.
- To maximise your productivity and focus make physical activity part of your daily routine.
If you’d like more information on seeking professional help with your exercise and fitness, you can contact Greg by sending an email to: [email protected] or check out his website here: https://thefitness.coach/
Here at KUHR we’ve decided that this March it’s Wellbeing month in the office and one of the things we’ve been thinking about is allergies in the workplace, in particular (with quite a few of our clients being in the ‘food trade’), food allergies and why it’s important to consider them for both your customers and employees.
To prevent people with food allergies suffering from dangerous reactions, controlling allergens at work is crucial. Many symptoms are life-threatening without proper treatment – around ten people in the UK die from food allergies every year. In fact, an estimated 1-2% of adults have a food allergy, which equals around 2 million people.
It’s therefore likely that someone in your workplace has an allergy, and without caution, you could put them at serious risk of a reaction. You should understand how to minimise allergy risks and prioritise managing food allergies in the workplace to keep them safe.
With this in mind, we thought we’d ask our friend Ruth at Simply Safer to be a guest blogger again this month and share some food allergen related advice!
Allergens – a matter of life and death
The effective management of food allergies is a serious issue with recent high-profile cases in the press highlighting how important it is to have robust procedures that are stringently followed within food preparation areas.
Knowing what’s expected
The Food Standards Agency has a wealth of useful information on their website that will help you to comply with the rules set out in EU Food Information for Consumers Regulations.
The two key requirements when working with food are that you must:
- Provide allergen information to the consumer for both pre-packed and non-prepacked food or drink
- Handle and manage food allergens to avoid the risk of cross-contamination
In addition, you have a duty to ensure your staff are trained about allergens.
The 14 allergens you need to know about
Regulations require that you advise customers if any of your food products contain the following:
||Gluten containing Cereals(more info here)
||Sulphur Dioxide and Sulphites
The regulations about how you provide this information to your customers can be confusing and depends on how you supply the products. It is always a good idea to take professional advice as non-compliance, even if accidental, can have serious implications for your customers, you and your business if something goes wrong.
*Lupin is a legume and fast emerging as a ‘superfood’. However, lupin, and its’ derivatives, has been associated with allergic reactions for sufferers of peanut allergies. You need to consider the potential for cross reactivity if using Lupin in ‘nut-free’ recipes and products.
Managing allergens in the kitchen
As well as following the legal requirement, that you must be able to provide information regarding allergens in your product to customers, the management of allergens within the kitchen is also very important.
It is important that you have a recipe for all dishes served and that these recipes are always followed. Ingredients must be properly stored in original packaging or in labelled containers, detailed information about recipes is required and you must always have processes in place to keep this information up to date.
Some people are allergic to foods that are not included in the 14 ‘known allergens’ so having the recipe or ingredients list available is very important.
Preventing cross contamination is an important aspect of managing allergens and there are different ways to approach this in your kitchen or food preparation area.
Food preparation processes
Having separate preparation areas, tools and utensils is highly recommended. This helps to reduce the risk of cross contamination between foods. You must also manage the use of the tools and utensils effectively. For example, if you use designated chopping boards for the preparation of food within the allergen free area, how do you ensure that different allergens don’t cross contaminate on the same board?
Similarly, how you cook products needs to be considered. For example, if you use the same cooking oil to cook gluten-free chips as you use to cook food which is NOT gluten-free, you cannot tell your customer the chips are gluten-free.
As previously mentioned, ingredients and prepared foods must be stored separately in sealed and labelled containers. Think about where you store different foods on shelves in the dry store, for example, store nuts on the bottom shelves so if they spill, they will not end up in other products.
Handwashing is vital when it comes to food hygiene and not only to prevent the transfer of bacteria and viruses. Thorough handwashing prevents the cross contamination when handling different products within the preparation and serving process. Always wash hands before preparing an allergy free meal.
Making ‘free from’ claims
I would urge extreme caution in making ‘free from’ claims about products. The ability to create any ‘free from’ meals requires compliance with strict regulations about the handling and preparation process.
In order to comply, you must be able to guarantee the food is suitable for everyone with an allergy or intolerance. If you are handling any allergens within the same kitchen, then you cannot guarantee there’s no risk of cross-contamination.
Five places you might not expect to find allergens
- Doner kebab meat is held together with yogurt so take care of milk allergies.
- Canned tuna sometimes includes the milk protein, casein.
- Processed deli meats may contain gluten and soy, and cold meats cut on a slicer may have been cross contaminated with cheese!
- Worcestershire sauce often contains fish derivatives, as does Caesar dressing and lots of Asian dishes.
- Who doesn’t love a steaming hot chocolate? Take care if you have issues with milk, soy, wheat or gluten which are often found in hot chocolate powder.
Need more information?
Simply Safer supports businesses to comply with the legal safety requirements for both food safety and Health and Safety, they provide food safety advice to businesses across the UK with most along the south coast.
If you have read this article and have any questions about how you manage allergens in your business, call Ruth on 07941 421 809 or email [email protected]
NB: This article gives you an example of the things you need to consider when it comes to managing allergens in your food preparation areas or kitchen. It is not a comprehensive guide and does not provide full guidance that will ensure you meet your statutory obligations or fully comply with regulations. If in doubt, you should always seek the advice of a qualified and experienced expert.
This month, I thought I’d ask a self-employed friend to be the guest blogger and share their story about their journey into self-employment and their advice for people in the same boat.
I recently found myself being made redundant again for the third time and with that comes the stress and worry of how I will pay the bills and keep the money rolling in. I had spent the last 6 years in the Training Industry assessing people initially with Apprenticeships before moving into teaching Employability skills, a profession I really enjoyed.
So now I was facing that same dilemma that everyone who has been made redundant faces, what do I do next?
Do I look for something similar? Do I look at changing my career path? Are there alternatives? I knew I had many skills to offer and I had really enjoyed helping people move into employment and found it very rewarding; however, the industry was changing and full-time jobs as a company employee were becoming hard to find.
Maybe there was a possible alternative, become Freelance?!
Becoming freelance meant I could look at taking on any work offered by any company, not being tied to just one. I could manage my own workload and schedule, and if a company “went under” I could find more work elsewhere. Being a Freelancer would require a big change in my employment status, I would have to become Self-employed, something I only had a very basic knowledge about. I quickly realised I needed to find out more about what was involved in becoming self-employed.
DA Training and Consultancy
I spoke to a company called DA Training and Consultancy who can deliver a qualification called “Award in Understanding Enterprise”, which is all about how to set up a business. There was an additional benefit with this course, as I was unemployed, they could offer me the course for FREE!
The units covered in the course were:
- Understand the skills and knowledge required to run a business
- Understand how to manage money in a business
- Understand how to market your business
“The course was informative, Mike the tutor, was helpful and friendly and it has given me the knowledge I needed to get started in setting up my own business and becoming self-employed.”
I am now all set up and back working in the industry, helping people who are unemployed or recently made redundant and I recommend the Enterprise course to all of them and I recommend it to you!
DA Training and Consultancy offer many other qualifications like: Employability Skills, Conflict Management, Retail Skills, Administration, Customer Service and Functional skills, to name just a few. If you are unemployed contact them, as they can help you improve your skills and employability.
You can contact them on: 0845 269 2609.
If you would like to talk about any aspect of training and development for you or your staff please get in contact. I can help with careers plans for you and your team to develop them and retain your talent. Either email me on [email protected] or book a call.
This summer I was very lucky to have a lovely intern called Sean to join the KUHR team. I would highly recommend taking on an intern if you are a small business and ever get the chance as not only did I gain a great help to my business, but also someone who I would welcome back as a potential full-time employee in the future, plus…I even helped Sean realise that he did want a career in HR.
I wanted to share with you Sean’s guide for why interning is great!
An internship can be a scary thing, you are delving into the unknown, especially those who haven’t had any work experience up to this point. But, it also holds a wealth of benefits that I hope to gather during my time working.
For any student, an internship is of paramount importance for when you apply for a graduate scheme. If all goes well in the summer, it will give you that vital reference you need as well as full-time work experience that could help you clinch the graduate job that you have always wanted. These days some may argue that it is difficult to get anywhere without some form of work experience and this is a great way to prepare for working life after the comfortable days of studying have passed us by.
Another reason why internships are great is because they get you into a routine, having to get up and get ready…unlike at university where life seems to be dislocated from the real world. Thus, this is an excellent way to kick your life into gear and obtain something of value for your future, all in one summer. It shows that you are committed putting in the time and have a desire to get working.
The benefits aren’t only there for the intern, but also for the employer. They can give a student an extra push, to make their future potentially even brighter. There is also the fact that as an employer you are passing on vital knowledge that can be helpful to both them and the field in which they are to work.
As an employer, if you are feeling overwhelmed with your work, they are someone that can be a useful assistant and can help you clear a backlog. For example, you may have the opportunity to tailor your work day around someone that can be in the office doing tasks for you while you can be out seeing more clients.
However, it must be understood that they are still learning and may have never worked in your field before, so it’s important to build a support infrastructure for them as well. The best part is, you might even find that after a successful internship, the intern is maybe someone that you can take on board after they have finished their degree and because of the internship, they are already a trained and competent employee, so you don’t have to go through the whole recruiting process again.
Another way to look at it is, it’s a cheaper and more efficient way for temporary full-time recruitment. Especially if you go through a university, you’ll have plenty of applicants in no time at all and have a candidate who is raring to go.
Benefits for both
So, you can see there are many benefits to both parties involved in an internship. Just remember, it’s no good just having the intern making coffee or walking your dog. Give them real tasks that will help with your workload and be there to support them if they need any help. It will take time out of your day, but it’s worth it for the development of the intern. However, don’t be afraid to throw them in the deep end, just make sure you have support for them as well.
Tips from Sean, The Intern
- Ask Questions – It is evident that any intern will want to go out of their way to impress their employer. To show that you are independent, and you can do it all by yourself. However, this can in some ways be a detriment if you go on to rely on yourself in an area that you have never worked before. Thus, my first tip is don’t be afraid to ask questions. Although you do need to show independence, you’ll be more of a detriment to the clients and to yourself if you’re simply helping blindly. So, although you may feel a pest (I know I do), it’s worth asking if you need help and most of the time, its no trouble at all for someone to help you.
- Research – Make sure you do a bit of research on how to use common office systems such as excel before starting. You’ll be using things like excel more often than you imagine and knowing the basics will give you a head start. Also, if there are any area-specific systems such as Breathe HR, it might be worth doing some learning at home so you’re ready to smash it out of the gate.
- Be communicative – Show your colleagues that you’re interested in what you’re doing and show that you have a personality. Don’t be too excessive but do be friendly. Having the confidence to be yourself in a new environment is important, but you have to also remember what’s appropriate for the workplace.
- Be prepared to learn – Have your pen and notebook at hand in order to observe because you’ll have to be doing what you’re shown on your own sooner rather than later. It’s best to be told once and then be able to handle yourself, this is especially possible if you have made notes to refer to. Know the times where you have to learn and then when you have to lead yourself.
- Pack a big lunch – You’ll be here a long time and by the afternoon hunger firmly sets itself in and you’ll be begging to eat. Sitting at a desk doesn’t sound like it would use a lot of energy, but trust me, it still makes you very hungry.
If you’d like more information and support about taking on an intern in your business, please get in touch by emailing [email protected] to see how I can help.
Kate Underwood HR now has quite a few clients who are in the ‘food trade’. So, I thought I’d ask our friend Ruth at Simply Safer to be the guest blogger this month and share some handy food safety-related advice!
Simply Safer supports businesses to comply with the legal safety requirements for both food safety and Health and Safety, they provide food safety advice to businesses across the UK with most along the south coast.
What are your customers thinking?
Twice a year the Food Standards Agency carry out a survey of the public to discover their attitudes and concerns regarding food safety.
When questioned about food safety issues, 36% of people asked were concerned about hygiene when eating out and 30% were concerned about food poisoning.
45% of respondents reported concerns about food safety in restaurants, pubs, cafés and takeaways. But 42% were also concerned about UK shops and supermarkets.
These results show that there are some real concerns about eating out. This is reflected by the fact that 84% of respondents said that they were aware of the hygiene rating in places they eat out or buy food.
It is becoming more and more important to have a Very Good 5, or Good 4 Food Hygiene Rating.
Reputation is so important when running a food business and bad news travels and, unfortunately, sticks so much longer than the good stuff.
You should always make sure that you are ready for an inspection and that your staff are also ready in case the owner or manager are having a day off when it happens.
The Food Hygiene Rating is given based on what is found at that time. You will not get away with an excuse like: “The chef has taken the paperwork home”, so any paperwork needs to be on the premises and whoever is in charge at that time needs to know where to find it.
If you’d like help to make sure you are in the best position for your inspection email [email protected] to request an Inspection Self-Assessment checklist.
Ruth Baker, Simply Safer