It’s no secret that healthier, happier teams in general build more resilient, creative and profitable organisations, which is why bosses are spending ever more time making sure they’re looking after their staff. But many still underestimate the basics, says health expert and entrepreneur Liz Earle.
Having grown The Liz Earle Beauty Co into a 600-person, best-selling skincare brand, the former journalist sold it to beauty giant Avon in 2010 and exited after the brand was acquired by the pharmacy group Walgreens Boots Alliance for £140m in 2015.
She now splits her days between editing her own wellbeing magazine, TV appearances and grilling some of the best brains in the industry for her weekly wellbeing podcast. She shares some tips on how all leaders can look after themselves and their employees.
"One of the things that I've learned over the years is about the importance of gut health for general wellbeing, not just physically but mentally. There’s increasing research that links the brain to the gut. For example we have neurotransmitters in our gut telling our brain instinctively what to ‘think’ before we rationally process it.
"There’s a reason we have phrases like ‘gut instinct’ and ‘butterflies in the tummy’. Gut instinct is extremely important for business - in the past I’ve ignored my gut instinct when I shouldn’t have done and it was an expensive mistake.
"So for leaders it’s really important to look after your gut health. I’d recommend drinking Kefir, a supercharged yoghurt that’s very good for mental health, brain development, reducing stress and other health issues. It also helps to reduce serotonin, helping us to sleep better. It does so much for us and is very easy to add into the diet. It's always better to add stuff than give it up."
Sleep, sleep, sleep
"Sleep is an underrated business asset. It’s fundamental to our general health and wellbeing. It’s when the body does its repair work and we can’t make great decisions without enough of it.
"The optimum amount is about seven and a half hours. Not much more, not much less - you can actually have too much sleep. It also needs to be consistent, so don’t work hard all week and then sleep 12 hours when the weekend comes.
"It’s really important for business leaders to prioritise sleep, and a powerful message that they need to be sharing with their teams."
"Agile working really is important. With my own team I have found that it helps people stay mentally sharp, physically better and more productive. We use tools like Skype, Facetime and Google Docs which are great for collaborative working.
"Ultimately it comes down to trust. A lot of companies want to see people in the office so they can see what they’re doing, but I don’t want them necessarily to slog in on an hour long commute, then arrive exhausted and probably poorer for it. If you trust people enough to pay them, you should trust them enough to work from home."
Trust is key
"If you want people to get on board, your message has to be authentic, credible and built on trusted information. There's so much noise out there, and I think my background as a journalist has really taught me to go after the facts and chase the bottom line.
"The message needs to be consistent, strong and true. It's very hard to create an artificial history and I think authenticity resonates with consumers."
Liz Earle was speaking at AXA Growth leaders series: Making health and wellbeing work, hosted by The Supper Club.
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