Productivity or Well-Being: Choose Both

26/4/2016 |

Happy and healthy Ninjas are productive Ninjas

You are the boss of a company and your Ninja fairy godmother offers you one wish to increase productivity. What do you choose?

  • A giant clock so employees can see how much time they waste each day
  • A team of scary-looking enforcers who stand around looking as though they are taking notes
  • A redesigned office so employees can get to the washroom and back in half the time
  • More breaks, more plants, an onsite gym, and naptime included in the benefit package

If you picked option four, give yourself a Ninja star. Studies show that maintaining a healthier workforce has been shown to lower direct costs such as insurance premiums and worker’s compensation claims. It also positively impacts indirect costs such as absenteeism and worker productivity.

Even the most modest improvements in employee health can have a huge financial implication. These are greater than the financial savings associated with efficiently designed and operated buildings. They’re even more than those organizations that promote productivity as their core competency.

Keeping your lizard brain in its place


Productivity Ninjas have another specific reason for being healthy and fit.  It helps battle “resistance”, i.e. that part of our lizard brain that says: “Do nothing, keep still and you’ll live to another day.”

Resistance, of course, loves it when you’re feeling sluggish. Feed me a donut, drink some soda pop, and I’ll agree to anything. Five hours of sleep and staying indoors all day is lizard brain is in its glory.

One of the best ways to reduce Lizard brain’s power is through nutrition, fresh air, lots of water, and of course, exercise. Working out helps our bodies to produce positive endorphins (and lizard brain doesn’t want you to be happy!) Exercise gives us the strength to take on more and feel good about it.

Hey, I want to work there!


Companies large or small can establish a ‘health and wellness culture’ to encourage everyone to stay healthy, i.e. not just the fitness fanatics and health gurus. Several companies have taken steps to emphasise health and wellbeing in the workplace. A Chicago-based company award each employee with ten “Ferris Bueller days off” each year for sickness or playing hooky!

A health and wellness culture can cover three areas: 

Action steps


Benefit programs

  • Points earned for health and wellness challenges, reimbursed for prizes or time off
  • Reimbursing workers for gym memberships, local exercise classes, or providing discount cards.
  • Onsite free exercise programs, health coaching, flu shot clinics

Time management training

Time management training can be one of the most effective ways for integrating a wellness culture. Ninja time management training emphasises balancing of priorities to lower stress and increase productivity.

  • Include time for breaks, hydration, meals, formal and informal exercise
  • Give permission to disconnect, schedule time to unplug, go stealth, “not collect emails today”.
  • Don’t fill your calendar with tasks. Set time aside to remain flexible, perhaps take a walk while you work on a creative challenge, or just breath in some fresh air.

Given that we spend about one third of every workday in an office, a healthy environment should be a priority. When employees feel like you care about their health and wellbeing, they will start to feel more valued, will work harder and feel better.

Productivity or well-being? You can choose both.

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