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Healthy employees, healthy business: wellness initiatives for the oil and gas industry

LNG Industry,

Most individuals appreciate the importance of good health, wellbeing, and effective personal performance, but looking after oneself can be a struggle for employees in any business sector. The sheer size and scale of the oil and gas industry brings with it a specific set of challenges, so how can organisations provide information and support to staff without it looking as though they are interfering in areas beyond the traditional remit of the employer, or that they are adding increased pressure to staff with the expectation that they must be in peak physical and mental condition at all times, regardless of the fact they already have a long list of work and life priorities to concern themselves with?

One of the organisations corporate wellness company The Tonic works with, an energy company based in the Middle East, has adopted a proactive approach by including specific wellness modules on one of its key leadership development programmes. The programme consists of a number of modules, run at intervals over a period of months, and throughout the course of the programme, in addition to receiving essential input on strategy, management and finance, participants have access to a whole host of wellness resources.

The positioning of wellness on programmes such as this makes perfect use of the fact that participants arrive at training events with an open mind and a willingness to learn. This provides a great opportunity to help individuals take stock of their current approaches to health and wellness, and assess these approaches alongside the specific results, both personal and professional, that they experience each day.

Tackling wellness in this environment also means clearly aligning this vital area with professional success rather than it being viewed as an afterthought as it currently is by many executives. The concept of positive wellness as a solid foundation for effective leadership immediately raises it up the priority list.

Something for everyone

The programme approaches wellness from a variety of angles, both strategic and practical, to increase the likelihood of engagement from all participants. The resources available include health assessments where participants gather information on key health and fitness indicators, which can be used to establish benchmarks for the future, highlight any priority areas for action, and track progress over time.

Group presentations are provided to highlight the most successful strategies for fitness and exercise, healthy eating, quality sleep and effective stress management. Individual lifestyle coaching sessions are available to answer specific questions from participants, and there are a selection of group activity sessions on offer including fitness training, yoga and Pilates.

These activity sessions can present the greatest leap of faith for many attending programmes such as this – its one thing to sit and listen to a wellness presentation when they’re already comfortable in the learning environment, but quite another to ask participants to change into sports kit and take part in activities that could be unfamiliar at best, and intimidating at worst.

These sessions however, often provide the moments of most dramatic breakthrough as individuals discover new ways in which they can maintain fitness levels within the parameters of a busy schedule, fix long-standing injuries, understand creative solutions relating to relaxation strategies, and experience practical techniques on how to manage mind and body effectively for optimum results.

Healthy body, healthy mind

At a basic level, one of the biggest turning points of these sessions is when people rediscover the joy of getting active and are reminded of the strong link between mind and body. Due to months or years of an ever more busy schedule, many have simply forgotten what it is like to feel energised or experience these moments of satisfaction and achievement.

These sessions are also valuable as they provide moments of contrast within any training initiative. Most leadership programmes involve a lot of sitting, listening, absorbing information, and exercising the mind. Activity sessions are a great way to get people moving, clear their head and put them in the best state for understanding and applying the new information they are being exposed to.

Ultimately, the purpose of all of wellness initiatives is to help participants formulate a plan that will work for each of them and their particular circumstances, and that will also stand the test of time to keep them in optimum condition in the short-, medium- and long-term. Equipping participants with these resources is a great way to engage them and communicate the message that management cares about them as individuals as well as members of the organisation.

Simple changes, big results

Some of the specific challenges faced by industry professionals include how to fit exercise into a busy schedule, maintaining a healthy food routine within challenging and ever changing circumstances, how to make improvements with sleep quality and quantity, and how to balance the many elements of modern professional life without compromising relationships with family or friends.

Results reported by groups The Tonic works with include improved levels of daily activity, a more detailed and consistent routine of weekly exercise, healthier choices with meals and snacks, improved portion control, enhanced energy levels, improved blood pressure, lower body fat, better work-life balance, improved stress management and significant progress with weight management.

Why wellness really matters

The benefits to a business of wellness initiatives are two-fold. Firstly, when any area of concern is highlighted and tackled, it’s one less thing for an individual to worry about. Many professionals spend a lot of time monitoring how they feel and how they are performing, and by addressing and overcoming some of the lifestyle preoccupations that serve to create distracting background noise, employees are able to focus more completely on priority tasks.

The application of new strategies relating to lifestyle behaviours leads to a new level of focus and efficiency; an improved food routine results in better energy levels, more activity and exercise leads to clearer thinking, improved sleep routines enhance mood and ability to cope with stressful situations which, in turn, leads to improved performance and decision making.

Secondly, as individual attitudes to wellness change, the atmosphere and energy of teams, departments and entire organisations can change for the better. Focused and effective individuals are inspiring, so, regardless of the specific format of a company’s specific wellness initiatives, the impact will be far reaching with tangible benefits for individuals, teams and the wider business. It's an undisputable win-win solution.

Written by Jeff Archer, Managing Director, The Tonic Corporate Wellness, UK.

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