Beginning a new job or internship can be an exciting and stressful time. You’re eager to prove yourself to your colleagues and managers and excited to learn new skills. While it’s good to be focused on finding a company that will help you meet your professional goals, it’s also important to consider how your future employer will help you outside of the office.
I’ve been a fitness nut all my life. I attribute a lot of my success as an entrepreneur to the dedication I have made in improving my mind and body every day. With that said, when I started consulting for companies, I quickly became overwhelmed. As business picked up, my health went down along with my energy and motivation. I was making money, but I was more depressed than I had ever been before. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I realized that no amount of money was worth sacrificing my wellness.
But now is a time when health is being made a larger priority. Healthy bodies and minds go hand in hand with happiness and productivity -- both highly sought after characteristics in the workplace. Today’s companies, ranging from startups to Fortune 500s, are even introducing comprehensive corporate wellness programs to make health a pillar of corporate culture. Colleagues are exercising, juicing and even meditating together in the office.
From the nap rooms in Zappos’s Las Vegas campus to the bike-share programs at Facebook, today’s organizations are pulling out all the stops to ensure that their employees remain healthy and happy. Speaking to Forbes contributor Kevin Harrington in 2015, Dr. Roger Sahoury, a champion of corporate health, claimed that when individuals recognize the efforts their employers’ are taking in ensuring their health, it encourages them to work harder at their jobs.
If you are entering the workforce post-college or seeking a new gig, it’s in your best interest to find a company that values your health, happiness and future growth. Here are two healthy foundations you should look for in prospective employers:
A 24/7, always-on lifestyle is just not sustainable. Too often, employees feel the need to work to the point of exhaustion day in and day out. But this attitude actually doesn’t help anyone. You may think that you’ve already experienced stress from intense finals schedules, but it’s likely nothing compared to what often happens in the working world.
The term “burnout” was first used in the 1970s, and since then has become an increasing problem plaguing American work culture. Over the past few years, burnout rates have become such a problem that millions of Americans feel there is no other solution but to leave their jobs.
According to the Association for Physiological Science, in 2014 1.7 percent of the American workforce elected to resign over burnout. Burnout is not inevitable, however. You have the power to set yourself up for a long and healthy career by making concerted efforts to set boundaries for yourself.
Leave the office at a reasonable hour, set blackout times in which your team knows you won’t be looking at emails (except in emergency scenarios) and make self-care a priority. Don’t be afraid to ask about typical working hours, weekend emailing policies and even how most employees spend their lunch break -- these questions may seem silly, but they offer significant insight into corporate culture.
Building strong relationships with the people you work alongside can be the distinguishing factor in how you feel about your job and approach your own work. In fact, spending time cultivating relationships with team members and managers may even set you up for future success.
In a recent study by the Queen’s School of Business and Gallup Organization, employees who felt disengaged reported lower productivity and more errors. Spending time with co-workers outside of meetings and office hours is beneficial to everyone. But strong relationships don’t just happen overnight -- they have to be nourished.
As a young professional, you should look to be mentored by successful entrepreneurs who are interested in building great team dynamics. You shouldn’t expect elaborate weekly outings, but simple things such as outdoor team lunches and group yoga classes are key signs of a corporate culture that values relationships and overall wellbeing.
While senior leaders and CEOs often dictate company culture, you still have the power to make an impact -- even as an intern or entry-level employee. Maybe your dream company is lagging behind on the wellness initiatives. There are still things you can do every day to foster strong bonds and encourage healthy habits among your teammates, such as eating lunch away from your desk, going for daily walks, organizing after-work meetups or setting up daily meditation challenges for your entire team.
It’s up to you to take control of your mental and physical health, but hopefully your future employer will help you out along the way.