The Impact of Wellbeing in the Workplace – Laura Timbrook

The Impact of Wellbeing in the Workplace – Laura Timbrook

Despite the best of intentions, life can get busy and stressful. Soon we start to notice we aren’t as energetic, focused or alert as we used to be, leaving us feeling less productive, frustrated and looking for a quick fix.  

With fad diets, stress management apps and fitness gurus, it’s hard to get back to a place of feeling healthy, happy and energetic.

My guest in this episode, US based, national board certified health and wellness coach Laura Timbrook sees this all the time!  

Laura believes in practical, straight forward solutions to get results and she’s passionate about making sure an organization’s number one asset – its people, are provided with the best chance for optimal vitality, safety and longevity.

To find out more about Laura, visit www.lauratimbrook.com 

Transcription

Donna Hanson: Hello and welcome to this Expert Insights episode I’m Donna Hanson in this Expert Insights episode we speak with wellbeing strategist Laura Timbrook. US Based Laura is a national board-certified health and wellness coach international speaker and well-being strategist in the manufacturing industry. She’s been in the corporate health and wellness field for almost 10 years and has worked for the small business and fortune 500 spanning several sectors. Still the manufacturing workforce hold a special place for Laura. Laura says our lives of cheap, easy to waste time on crazy diets exhausting stress management techniques and stress inducing fitness right regiments. I’m with you Laura

So simple, practical and straightforward perspective gets results. Laura believes employees are a company’s number one asset and we need to make sure they are provided with the best chance for optimal vitality safety and longevity looking forward to this chat. Hi, Laura, welcome.

Laura Timbrook: Hi Donna, thank you so much for having me.

Donna Hanson: But before we start, what exactly is a well-being strategist?

Laura Timbrook: Yes. So I work with organizations to strategize their employee’s well-being. Every company or industry. Everyone needs something a little specific and what works for one place doesn’t work for another place. So really, I kind of take a holistic approach at it and see what specifically a certain company or a certain industry needs. And then we kind of lay out what will work for their employees and it’s kind of growing and changing. So it might be leadership wellness coaching training or maybe just some, you know, sugar sessions and nutrition advice. So it really varies depending on the company in the industry.

Donna Hanson: Wonderful. So I’ve not heard of a well-being strategist before, is that an official title or just something you coined that you found was really meaningful to the industry.

Laura Timbrook: Yeah, so it’s something I kind of coined myself because you know being a board certified health and wellness coach. A lot of times it just looks as somebody’s going to come in and coach your employees. It’s so much bigger than that. And a lot of times when we think of health and wellness. We think of fitness and nutrition. And we forget about our relationships and our purpose and you know how sleep and movement and nutrition all play a role. So it’s much bigger than what we sleep and exercise or eat and exercise.

Donna Hanson: I guess a lot of people see each of those elements in isolation and what you do when you said you holistic is bring elements of all that together, depending upon what people’s organization’s needs are.

Laura Timbrook: Absolutely. And it’s interesting when I went through Nutrition school we had primary foods and secondary foods. And actually, our secondary foods were actually the foods we ate it was the primary foods which will our relationships and how our purpose and you know just how we carry ourselves. So a lot of that was so much more important than the foods we were eating and a lot of times it gets left out and it makes such a big impact in our overall well-being.

Donna Hanson: Well, I’m looking forward to hearing a little bit more about this as we have a bit of a chat today. So what was your well-being? So I just want to focus on the manufacturing industry. Is there something you still missing in the industry or

Laura Timbrook: 100% so I was in corporate health and wellness for think was eight or nine years. And every now and then you would be sent to a manufacturing facility, but you still went with your corporate attire. And your corporate knowledge and how their lunch, you know, breaks work, but you would go to the facilities and suddenly they don’t have an hour lunch break.

Laura Timbrook: And they have only two 15 minutes you know breaks throughout the day. Aside from their lunch. And it was just different. So
the information we were giving to the corporate world wasn’t translating over to our manufacturing workforce. And I was at a facility one time and the guy was coming through for health coaching and he actually put his hand up and he said, you know what healthy doesn’t work for me. And in that instance, I was like, you know what, this is what we’re doing. And we’re failing people we are failing a whole section of people And it’s not fair. I am a firm believer that everybody has the ability to be healthy. Just a lot of the information we’re giving doesn’t fit them. So once I heard that and really talking to a lot of other employees. I was like, you know what, and this is where I need to be. I need to be their voice of health.

Donna Hanson: Okay, interesting Yeah. And it makes perfect sense because a lot of people when they think health and wellness or health and fitness. They think of these buffs six-pack abs or these sleek hourglass figures in a bikini on a beach and them often feel unattainable. But I’m guessing you’re not looking to take people from here right over here in, you know, two or three weeks. It’s not like a crash diet, it’s a lifestyle change.

Laura Timbrook: Slowly and everything’s different for everybody, you know, in the corporate world mindfulness training worked really well they liked the term mindfulness in manufacturing when we’re dealing with our, you know, our workforce mindfulness is fluffy. It’s extra it’s, I don’t have time for that. You know, but when I started working with them and we talked about quieting our mind and being present and we talked about fishing or sitting in a hunting standard maybe going for a motorcycle ride and that moment of being present and listening to the natures of the whining of a motor they understood that. And suddenly the conversation change suddenly something that went from. Oh, there’s no way I’m doing that. And if somebody once told me. He’s like, I am not into pillows and twinkle lights. We went from pillows and twinkle lights to motorcycles and classic cars or hunting or fishing rods. And you know, we had such a big response. I actually had a guy tell me that whenever he has a rough day he keeps a fishing pole in the back of his truck and he’ll hit the stream and just cast a few lines before he goes home to unwind.

Donna Hanson: Wow, that’s amazing. So it’s sort of like just finding that thing that makes it click for someone isn’t it.

Laura Timbrook: Absolutely and that’s really what a well-being strategist, like myself, is really doing is that we’re trying to find what are you already doing in your life that we can just a minor tweak and make it a healthy habit. So creating a personal and emotional connection and then linking the health and wellness message to something that brings them to quote Marie Kondo and brings them some joy sparks of joy and makes them feel like

Donna Hanson: They’ll step in more to something, then something you know esoteric and that sort of sits in the ether, something that that is relevant to them. So they’re absolutely amazing, absolutely amazing. So what we’re talking about today, can we apply it to any business or industry.

Laura Timbrook: Oh my goodness 100% and, you know, in the corporate health and wellness industry. We have seen such a huge growth. Just over the last eight, nine years. I mean, on we’re on track to almost hit 100 billion dollars in the next few years within a health and the corporate health and wellness industry, it’s huge. We know it works. And I was just reading right before we got on this call. I just shared it on LinkedIn. It was an article by HR magazine in the UK that actually found that when they implemented in manufacturing health and wellness programs they watched their increase in productivity. So we know it works and it’s just trying to find what fits for their organization.

Donna Hanson: So I guess when they’re when people are healthier way happier when we feel good. Well, naturally, when we feel good. We perform better job we when we feel bad, you know, we tend to be weighed down and feel less happy and less productive. I’m guessing.

Laura Timbrook: Absolutely. And you know, when I talk to people. Anytime someone goes on a diet for the first week or two every time. And they always tell me I have so much more energy, and it is because once you clean up your diet dependent, no matter what diet, you go on generally You’re always going to get the first few weeks more energy. You’re going to feel like there’s an extra pep in your step. And you’re going to be more productive. And that’s what we want. We just want to make sure that whatever lifestyle. We’re living is sustainable, so we can keep feeling like that, rather than having those big highs and lows.

Donna Hanson: So we’ve already touched on how it increases productivity.
Why should businesses really be starting to focus on the health and well-being of their workforce? What are the added benefits, they’ll get aside from productivity, because people are feeling better. What other tangible sorts of things can businesses and individuals expect to see when we’re more connected with our health and wellbeing?

Laura Timbrook: Oh, absolutely. So you have a happier workforce. You ever workforce that obviously is going to increase the productivity, you’re going to have a workforce that stays and that’s huge. When we’re talking about employee retention. You put all this money into training your employees you want those employees to stay with you not go to your competitor. Right. We want that. We want our employees working you know longer in their lives. We don’t want them to go out on Disabilities and workman’s comp. We want them in our workforce. You know, and for a lot of that comes in safety, especially with manufacturing, you know, there was a study done that actually showed if you slept 6 hours at night for 11 days you will your productivity will be at somebody that didn’t sleep for 24 hours. Can you imagine someone being on a manufacturing floor that hasn’t slept in 24 hours.

That’s dangerous, you’re going to have injuries occur, but yet so much of our workforce only sleeps 4-6 hours. Wow. So we really need to make sure we’re having a workforce that’s putting in, you know, time sleeping and eating the right foods because it’s going to affect their safety and especially for the manufacturing industry that’s key as for a lot of other industries as well.

Donna Hanson: So you mentioned 6 hours. Well, that’s, amazing. So I’m guessing. The amount of sleep people have or need will vary depending upon the individual. It’s not like a generic 8 hours sleep that we’ve all been taught, is it?

Laura Timbrook: Well, it kind of is almost so the University of Pennsylvania, and there was this great book by Matthew Walker called why we sleep and the University of Pennsylvania really found it needs to be 8-9 hours of sleep, we require when they actually started gathering all kinds of individuals that said, no, I can work on 4 hours of sleep. And they texted their productivity and they really did need that eight hours so you know, where a lot of times in the US will say 6-8 hours. It really needs to be 8-9 hours and we see the same thing with weight loss which is crazy because I will have clients come to me. That all sudden they’re up a pound or two, but their sleep has been all over the place and they get that 8-9 hours of sleep, and they’ll drop two pounds, just by sleeping and it’s because our body is you know, optimize. It’s letting go of any retain water. I mean, you’re not gaining two pounds of fat, just by not sleeping. But you are retaining water, your body’s holding on to things because it hasn’t been given that rest and restore that it needs.

Donna Hanson: Hmm. Well, so, um, my first thought is, you know, is this expensive for organizations to you know to do this sort of thing to go. We’re all in for a health and wellness program.

Laura Timbrook: No. So it’s scalable. And one of the things that I’m going to give you a quick secret, and I know it’s for the US. So I’m not sure. So definitely call your insurance people for Australia. But in the US, we have what we call wellness dollars and a lot of organizations don’t know they’re out there. So this money has been put aside.
For your employees so you can run these wellness programs. And all you have to do is call your insurance company and find out. Have a conversation if these wellness dollars exist, what they can be used for and how you can use it. And, you know, just like everything. It’s scalable, you can have someone come in to do a wellness talk or a survey to see what your employees need or you can go full in and bring in leadership training and CWO which are chief wellness officers and really go full force. So, yes, that can get a little expensive, but there’s ways to scale it down so it could start for everybody.

Donna Hanson: And I’m guessing if you consider it an investment, rather than spend because at the other end, you should get retention, you’ll get more engaged and productive people. So it’s about, you know, working out.
What you prepared to invest at the front end in order to get the result at the back end. And then how do you measure and track that.

Laura Timbrook: Absolutely. And, you know, for the manufacturing industry, we are kind of at a critical pivot point our workforce is aging out and we’re not having the younger workforce coming in. So we are at a critical point, we need to be attracting the younger generations.

But we know the younger generations. They put so much focus on purpose family and wellness. Actually, I just read an article earlier this year that coined the millennial generation, generational wellness. Because they’ve been the first generation that spends so much more significantly on wellness. So if we want these younger generations coming into the workforce. We have to be attracting them. So if they’re going to go to corporate and they’re going to get all these fancy wellness benefits and manufacturing doesn’t offer it. They’ll never attract it so putting that money into create a sustainable practical wellness environment is key. If you want to bring in and retain those employees for younger generations.

Donna Hanson: Wow. Yeah. I hadn’t even thought of that. And, and you’re quite right. I know that you know anybody I know in that millennial sort of age bracket is quite focused on fitness wellness what they and sustainability, we say food which brings me on to the next thing I wanted to talk about which was food. Which makes sense for talking to a health and wellness coach. So how does what people eat impact on their productivity.

Laura Timbrook: Oh my goodness. So huge amount we know when we are dealing with processed foods high amounts of processed foods. They’re inflammatory in our body. When we are inflamed. We are more likely to you know get chronic diseases we are more likely to feel sluggish and gross.
I mean, think about if you ever went well Halloween is coming up. So we have our big candy binge holiday and you know when you eat a lot of sugar, you kind of feel gross and slug. Exactly. And nothing gets done.
But if we start eating a diet of balance and Whole Foods. Hey, still have your chocolate but just don’t eat the whole bag. And that’s really where we see ourselves we feel lighter. We’re more productive, our brains are functioning quicker. We don’t have that brain fog and, you know, the interesting thing is, I was just reading some things about hydration.

1% of dehydration actually affects productivity at 12% so that’s pretty high. How much just being slightly dehydrated will actually affect our productivity. So, you know, we want to make sure that we’re eating the right foods and getting in the proper nutrients, because that’s going to affect how we feel. I see a lot of times in teens and young adults.

That they’re not eating enough fruits and vegetables and it’s really affecting them on anxiety levels and just overall well-being. And if we can start adding in those fruits and vegetables. It’s easier for doctors to figure out what’s going on and what we need. You need to start from a balanced approach or you’re always working at a negative

Donna Hanson: Huh. Oh, wow. And I think you’re right you know fruits and vegetables natural and pass through the body quite easily and they can really lift you up without something you down like processed foods do. So we’ve talked about you know, at a higher level similar sorts of things. Businesses can do will implement to help their employees, like Chief wellness officer or different elements. Are there any like simple little things that you know organizations or people watching or listening to this, that they could implement that might just give them a quick little win or show them that there really is something to this.

Laura Timbrook: Yeah, so I like when people can do one or two things, you know, something as simple as going for a walk. Has been so productive in our mental health, our body way how we feel our digestive system. So if we can start implementing somehow to get our employees walking you know, we could do a simple walking challenge or maybe offer some kind of, you know, if you sign up for the walking challenge you can win a $20 gift card. Something fun anytime we can have a challenge or a competition, people are more likely to get engaged. Especially now, especially since everybody’s so separated you need that sense of community that sense of team. So I think something like that is really important. But when we do get back to the offices, I’d like an approach called support don’t force. A lot of times when we start implementing a wellness program we go for the force side we start making our employees wear fitness trackers don’t make anybody do anything. We want to support them. So we can allow them to wear fitness trackers, but even if we don’t even go that far. And we’re just talking about those office meeting breakfast, you know, a lot of times they’re bagels and donuts. You know, the yummy foods.

And a lot of times when we start implementing a wellness program we take those bagels and donuts out and we only put in the healthy foods. Which is great, but really what we’re telling our employees is you’re not healthy on going to make you healthy and this is what you’re going to eat. They’re not going to do it. So we want to still have maybe a smaller amount of those bagels, or donuts. But then bring in the fruit and the granola and leave it up to your employees.

To make that option. If I want the healthy food or if I want to stick with the unhealthy food and generally they’ll stick with the unhealthy food but after time they make the change. It’s very much what we do with kids with vegetables. I always tell parents keep putting the vegetables on the plate at some point they’re going to get curious. And it’s the same thing with adults to keep doing it because at some point we’re going to be like, You know what, I don’t feel like that bagel. Let me just have some fruit or some yogurt, they’re going to make the healthy changes if we support them rather than force them.

Donna Hanson: And everything to me. And that sort of instance often, it can be a little bit of unintended peer pressure they see somebody else eating something and it doesn’t feel so bad for them to try something and then they get to a point where they start gravitating towards that more and more

Laura Timbrook: Oh, absolutely. And that’s really what you want. You want it to be, you know, my husband always says about his dad, he’s like, I could never make my dad do anything, it has to be his decision. Well, it’s like that for all of us. It has to be on our terms. And so that’s what we want, put it on your employee’s terms.

Donna Hanson: Yeah, I mean, I get some ideas spring to mind of different things. I’ve seen in the workplace. So when people were working in offices, which they know right now, things like you know, fruit boxes that would be in the lunchroom that people could go to and just help themselves to fruit. And I don’t know about the US but here in Australia in our supermarkets. You walk into the supermarket or grocery stores you call it. And there’s baskets of individual weeks of fresh fruit that’s free for the children when they come in, so they can grab a piece the fruit and whilst they’re going around the store doing their shopping with their parents or whoever. And they can either pay for it. So, all those things are a proactive in in changing your generation, but I’m even thinking when you’re talking about challenges even thinking about things like an organization, having water bottles branded water bottles that they distribute to staff that sit on the desks and, you know, the challenge is to drink one of those a day and then two of those a day and you know, things like that. But you’re right. People love challenges and I think that that’s one of the reasons why things like fitness trackers have been so popular because we love to see how well we doing, and not necessarily comparing ourselves with others, but comparing ourselves with our self yesterday. Yeah, I am. I love tracking different things like my husband wears a Fitbit and every night or after a week or a month you’re looking to go all look. I have got 7 hours and 48 minutes sleep as the average this week and it’s some like a benchmark and you go, hey yeah I’m doing okay. Robin, go. Oh my god. I just feel so blessed

Laura Timbrook: You know, and that was so much. I heard people when they with being from home. The first thing they said was my weights going up, but I’m not eating anything different. But what they were doing is they weren’t moving and we weren’t wearing our fitness trackers because they were sitting on her desk, because we weren’t going to work or we weren’t going out. And when we finally started putting them back on, we realized we were going from maybe 10-11,000 steps a day to just 3-4000 steps a day. So that’s where it came. It came because we just stopped moving we sit in our chairs on zoom all day. We don’t get up.

Donna Hanson: So that brings us on to the, the recent coven pandemic and people working from home and clearly, it makes it harder to manage workplace health and fitness and what are some of the tips that you’ve given workplaces, given that those lines are somewhat blood now.

Laura Timbrook: Yeah and we kind of have to be really careful with this because, you know, yes, they’re your employees are still employed with you, but they are at home. So we have to keep that homework life a little bit different. You kind of have to be very careful that you’re not intruding and telling them what they can do at home. But what we can do is we can support them and we can you know advocate for them, you know, one of the biggest things I actually see is people not having that separation of the day, starting and the day ending and Donna. I know, much like me. I think you’ve worked from home for quite a while. So, you know, in that first year or two. It was really kind of hard finding like okay, when does work. Stop and life begin like so I think that’s one of the biggest things we need to address is turning off the computer, you know, so many people are working from their kitchens, because they don’t have dedicated offices or they’re working from bedrooms and you know, work becomes bedtime or work becomes family dinners and we need to kind of set up those boundaries and that’s one of the biggest things I see and what I’ve been telling people, is you’ve got to set up a boundary, because you will burn your employees out because it’s so easy to continue working when there’s not no turning it off the phone rings and you’re running to your desk or you hear an email. Come on, and you’re logging in real quick. You have to kind of have that boundary. So that’s one of my biggest concerns during this time is that boundary and our mental well-being.

Donna Hanson: And I’m guessing to, you know, something simple for an organization to do could be just giving people permission to not check emails after 6pm sometimes it’s not until somebody says to us, you know, you don’t need to do that, and that it feels a sense of relief because we’ve created this our obligation in ourselves.

And you know whether people feel like they’re saving time because they’re not commuting or you might find that people working from home and they’re having to balance. In Australia, we have some we’ve had a lot of home-schooling and that’s been challenging for parents with them with young children, where you know both parents are working and maybe they don’t have the resources to be able to get support or in some instances childcare facilities weren’t available in part of the pandemic here. So it really is a challenge, but I’m guessing from a manufacturing perspective. A lot of manufacturing. You can’t do that from right. There’s a lot of elements of your clients that are still physically in locations and I’m guessing that maybe they’ve had reductions in numbers or changes in how they had to operate as a result of the pandemic, so has that influenced you know the advanced you think giving people

Laura Timbrook: Yeah, so when we’re dealing with the actual workforce and it’s kind of interesting. Right now there’s always been a separation between the manufacturing corporate and the, you know, your union workforce and but now it’s even more because our Union workforce is still in the offices, right, they’re still running the machinery and the products and our manufacturing corporate is now at home and you know we have to be very careful that we are still maintaining our health and wellness for the ones that are in the facilities. We need to make sure they feel safe. They feel supported and that their well-being matters, just as much as our corporate so really, you know, and we want to make them feel like there’s a community here that you know we’re rallying behind them to, you know, it was interesting because during the height of CO, but everyone was sending out the healthcare heroes like. Thank you.

Laura Timbrook: But, you know, we really weren’t thinking our manufacturing workforce who is working overtime to make sure we had the proper PPE. So we, you know, it’s really about acknowledging that workforce, because they were there working and they were still scared about their well-being. And their jobs, what was going to happen. So really, for that we really needed to focus on maintaining their health and wellness and supporting them. So it’s really about, you know, our supervisors having empathy and understanding what they’re going through and working as a team.

Donna Hanson: Awesome. So, at times fast running out. But I’ve got I’ve got one more question. Um, and, and forgive me for sort of laughing, but I’m sure you probably experienced this before. You’ve got an e book and it’s called eat your effing veggies cheese hilarious title festival. How did that come about and tell, tell me a little about it.

Laura Timbrook: Yeah, so it actually came about, again, from a manufacturing facility, and when he one person was like, give me one thing, one thing I could do and be healthier, and I told him I said just Eat Your Veggies and he looks at me goes seriously. That’s what you’re going to tell me my veggies. I said, Just eat your veggies and he really didn’t like veggies and we ended up coming up with a way of him still having his ham and egg sandwich in the morning, but he had to put spinach on it. Just a few leaves to start with. And four years later, he’s still doing it today. He eats vegetable soup and all his veggies and he’s actually lost a bunch of weight, but it was the simplest thing we can do to really help our health and the crazy thing, at least here in the US are adults aren’t eating veggies. And it was like you know, you’ll spend hundreds of dollars on supplements, but we won’t eat a five dollars bag of carrots actually carrots cost five dollars carrots cost like two dollars

Donna Hanson: We have much the same. So, where can people get that e-book, you know, because it much. I don’t wait for me it’s taking a little bit of curiosity as to what sort of things might be in the able

Laura Timbrook: Yes, so you can go to lauratimbrook.com and there’s and a header on there that says books and you can get it, download it right from my website.

Donna Hanson: Awesome. So as we draw it on in what other types of resources or programs do you have for those interested in exploring conversations with you because? We had a conversation before we started, and you’ve been buzzing around the world, virtually talking to different people said clearly the sorts of services and programs you provide, you’re able to provide anywhere in the world, is that right

Laura Timbrook: Yeah, so a lot of what we do is I’ll do an initial surveys, because a lot of times clients might not know what their employees need or what’s been effective. So we start having a conversation we learn about your employees will run a survey and then it could be anything from wellness culture leadership training.

To maybe some nutrition or sleep seminars or workshops. So it really depends on the organization, but it’s all about the employees, having the power to make healthier choices.

Donna Hanson: Wow. So same website. lauratimbrook.com

Laura Timbrook: You, got it. And they can also listen to me on my manufacturing wellness podcast. So that’s available on all download streams for podcasting.

Donna Hanson: And I imagine there’s probably a link from your website as well.

Laura Timbrook: Of course there is.

Donna Hanson: Laura thanks so very much for your time today and the insights on health and wellness. Thank you for joining us for this expert insights episode. Until next time, this is Australian productivity and technology expert Donna Hanson have an amazing week

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