Volunteering as a team during the holidays is a Referential tradition. As we did last year, we sorted food with the FOODBasket Food Sorting team of The Health Trust. We sorted and helped with storage and display of fresh produce which is offered to their AIDS Services and Family Resource Center clients. The photo shows just part of the food we helped process. We are in the heart of Silicon Valley, a place of great wealth, but also of great need, as this paragraph from The Health Trust website makes crystal clear:
Silicon Valley is a place of innovation, opportunity and affluence. On average, it is one of the healthiest, wealthiest places in the world. But not all residents of Silicon Valley share in that wealth – or that health. More than 13 percent of children in Santa Clara County are living in poverty. More than half of the adults are overweight or obese. Nearly half of the county’s older adults are considered impoverished. More than 19,000 adults and youth are homeless.
Our time as a team is one way we can help contribute to their vision of a healthier Silicon Valley for everyone.
Last year fully 54% of American workers did not use all their vacation according to this post from Business 2 Community written by Kristen Carlson. Taking time away to refresh and recharge is valuable but do you know just how valuable? This article from Inc by Lolly Daskal has some interesting statistics.
When we do go on vacation 3 out of 5 of us do some work, some more than others! If you don’t take your vacation you’re likely to have higher stress levels and negatively impact both your cardiovascular health and even your year end performance rating!
At Referential we believe taking vacation is important. We just did a quick mid-year reminder to everyone of how much vacation they have already used this year and how much they still have available. We encourage early planning for time off at the holidays, which is really important for us as our clients still need our services. We are open and stagger time out of the office so as to continue to provide coverage. We discourage carry over, we’d rather people take their full vacation and get the associated benefits each year. So far team members have had staycations, attended music festivals, visited the Caymans, the Dominican Republic, Spain, France, and Seattle, to name just a few places, with more exciting locations in plan.
Be among those that take all of their vacation time each year! You’ll feel better and perform better as well.
Like most office jobs our roles are very sedentary. It would be easy to spend the full day at our desks and even walking to the printer and the rest room and the break room does not add up to many steps. We do care about the team’s health. Our office has two treadmill desks, which have shown some of us are better at walking while typing than others! We also have a standing desk, balls instead of chairs, and each new employee gets a Fitbit. We encourage people to stay healthy and get their steps in.
Northern California is an area with wonderful weather, usually, and many of us take a walk around the block at some point in the day. We’ve had the chance to meet Bill as he’s on his daily walk, he’s the most energetic 95 year old ever! Sometimes we see our letter carrier, kids and parents walking home from the nearby school, or the couple who watch their preschool grandchild during the day. We’re anxiously awaiting the opening of a nearby coffee shop too!
Our office is in an interesting area, commercial on one side and residential on the other. The walks give us a chance to know the neighborhood and nearby residents better. Also, importantly, research shows getting up and getting exercise, improves your productivity at work, your overall health, and reduces stress. Not only all that, a study from the Journal of Neurology shows exercise slows brain aging by 10 years! Read the article here. Just as we encourage our employees to get up and get moving we encourage you to do so as well. Take a few more steps next week than last!
Another successful volunteer session at The Health Trust. Believe it or not we moved about 1000 pounds of fresh produce – each! That’s a lot of bok choy, carrots, spinach, potatoes, onions, and celery!
In a region of great wealth there is also surprising need. 13% of the children in this county are living in poverty. More than 19,000 adult and youth are homeless. The Health Trust’s vision is for a healthier Silicon Valley for everyone. Please consider supporting this worthy organization: http://healthtrust.org/
We spent Friday afternoon with the Red Cross and the lovelies in the photo below. All of us are now trained in CPR and first aid. It was a great afternoon of team building and a wonderful learning experience. It’s the sort of training you hope to never have to use but if there is an emergency we are now all much better prepared.
We are a fairly health conscious group. We have our Fitbits. We every so often do monthly walking challenges. We eat (for the most part) well. We have standing desks, treadmill desks, and balls instead of chairs for those who prefer them.
The next area to think about may be sleep. A recent article from Fast Company, here, cites a study that shows how bad lack of sleep can be. “Subjects in a lab-based sleep study who were allowed to get only six hours of sleep a night for two weeks straight functioned as poorly as those who were forced to stay awake for two days straight. The kicker is the people who slept six hours per night thought they were doing just fine.” The study is from the Journal Sleep.
These results are compounded by the fact that people just aren’t very good at knowing how long they do sleep. Estimates are usually off, sometimes significantly so. And, as the study showed, when people don’t sleep enough they do overestimate how well they are doing. Getting enough sleep isn’t always easy but we certainly don’t want people functioning as though they have been up for 48 straight hours! Our next area to emphasize for better health may have to be sleep.
None of us want the flu and there are things we can do at the workplace to help keep employees well.
For us it begins with the choice of healthcare providers. We have a Kaiser plan and Kaiser has frequent shot clinics, walk right up and get your vaccination. Recently several of the Kaiser Clinics near us offered drive through vaccinations. No need to get out of your car, just stick your arm out and be on your way! For day to day use we have hand sanitizer and tissues on desks and in public areas, and we encourage their use. That’s an easy way to make it convenient to keep hands clean.
While we hope everyone stays well, if someone is ill, and can’t work at home, we do have disposable face masks. They help contain the sniffles and sneezes. It’s highly appreciated by members of the team that are very susceptible or have had health issues recently. While the masks may not be the most comfortable to wear, it’s the least we can do to help others stay well.
Year round we encourage healthy habits. We all have our Fitbits and try to reach our step goal each day. We (for the most part) eat well. That foundation should help us stay well. Is there anything special your company does to keep employees healthy?