This post was originally published on CallCenter Weekly.
In the contact center community, we understand the true value of a happy customer. We’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that we leave our customer satisfied.
But – let’s consider this for a moment:
In order to take the best care of others, we must first take the best care of ourselves.
Do you agree with the above statement?
If we’re not taking care of ourselves, how the heck are we supposed to truly care for our customers? We can give-give-give but at some point, we may burnout.
Health is not a one-size-fits-all box. What is healthy for me may not be healthy for you and vice versa. We can’t force our team to eat the healthy snacks and ditch the soda. We can’t tell everyone to hop on xyz diet for the company weight loss challenge. Wellness in the workplace is much more complex.
And, it all starts with you.
How often is it that we see someone in the workplace start to appear more vibrant? They have more energy than you’d know what to do with, their skin and hair are glowing and they rarely seem to fall victim to that afternoon slump. Of course you want what they are having!
When one person takes the lead from a place that isn’t forced, others might follow. And when this act of self-care catches on, it can spread like a wildfire.
When we create a culture of self-care in the workplace, contact center teams become healthier, more productive, engaged and overall satisfied which in turn can reduce turnover, cut healthcare costs and simply make the environment that much better to go to every day.
As your personal customer service health coach, I guide leaders and teams through this journey.
In this article, I’m going to give you three new ways to look at wellness in the workplace as well as helpful tips for you to incorporate with your team right now.
Often, we think that unless our workout is an hour sweat-fest every single day, it isn’t worth it. So instead, we end up doing nothing at all. We’re busy. We’re tired. As contact center agents, we find ourselves sitting still the majority of our shift. We’re often emotionally and mentally exhausted. That extra long workout at the gym may seem overwhelming at the end of a long day, which is why you continue to skip it altogether. Instead, what could it look like to rethink movement as being simply a way to move your body instead of some forced chaos that you really don’t even want to do in the first place? Walking. Dancing. Stretching. Give yourself permission to think about movement outside of the normal treadmill at the gym. Start small – add in movement in doses that seem ridiculously silly yet truthfully realistic: 5 minutes a day, twice a week. 10 minutes a day, once a week. Eventually, increase the time. To what can you commit?
Pick one or two breaks per work week and commit to 5 to 10 minutes of movement. This might be walking around the parking lot, taking the stairs, doing easy yoga stretches or even turning on music in a secluded area of the office and dancing. Schedule your daily movement activity into your calendar to ensure you don’t forget!
Remember to Breathe
If you’re reading this, you’re breathing. I get it. How can you forget to breathe? But are you really breathing? Anxiety prone or not, taking deep belly-filled controlled breaths throughout the day can send signals to your brain to calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure, increase alertness and even boost your immune system. Especially when dealing with high stress situations and absorbing the energy from angry customers, deep breathing can play an important role in giving you the patience and awareness you need to assist customers. Don’t wait for a frustrating situation to breathe – incorporate this before meetings, post lunch before returning to work or even mid-day instead of reaching for more coffee. Deep breathing is less about clearing all the thoughts from your your mind, which is impossible, and more about giving your body the opportunity to reset and calm.
Once per day, set aside 40 seconds for 3 deep belly breaths. This can be done somewhere quiet or loud, depending on your environment. With your eyes closed or open, breathe in through your nose for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Release your breath out your mouth for a count of 5. Do this for 3 cycles.
Deprivation is not a healthy approach – even when it comes to those darn maple donuts in the breakroom. Crowding out is a natural process that happens when you add in more of the good stuff as opposed to cutting it all out and telling yourself you’re a horrible human with lack of willpower because you once again helped yourself to that donut. If you focus on all the foods you tell yourself you can’t eat, guess what – that’s what you’re going to crave the most. If you are trying to eat healthier and cut out processed food, add in more awesomely nourishing foods to crowd out the old neural pathways and form a new habit. I worked with a client who loved fries but knew she needed to cut back because she was eating them almost every day. Instead of restricting, she added roast broccoli and carrots dipped in ketchup to her meal along with the fries. After some time, she noticed that she was craving the broccoli and carrots more so than the fries. She also felt less sluggish and tired after eating the veggies and only a few fries instead. It’s not that she couldn’t have the fries – she could, but the value of the food choices became more important.
If healthier snacks like fresh fruit, veggies and nuts are not available to you in your office, plan in advance, leave them out the morning before work and bring them with you to the office. Shift your mindset – munch on these foods not from a place of restriction but rather from a place of nourishment. You can still have the donut. You may start to notice that over time, the donut doesn’t do as much to support you as do the healthier foods.
You are more than the food on your plate. Yes, the food you eat to nourish and support you with energy to live, is important. But, other non-food areas such as relationships, movement, creativity, career, spirituality and joy to name a few can contribute to your overall health and wellness. You can eat all the kale in the world but if you’re in a career you hate, an abusive relationship, get little sleep and lack joy in your life, you are not going to be authentically “healthy”. By taking the time to look into non-food areas of your life that may need more attention, you are expanding your definition of health. You’re understanding and aware of the impact of habits and how they play into your well-being on a daily basis.
To get a snapshot of all areas that can contribute to your health, complete the Circle of Life exercise. What stands out? What would need to shift in order for you to bring more of one thing to your life? Talk about it with someone you trust. Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection. This exercise may look different from day to day depending on what is going on in your life. Having the awareness around this will make a big impact.
Trying to make healthy shifts in your contact center and it’s just not working?
Invite me to your workplace to guide your team toward taking care of themselves in order to provide the best care for others.