There has been a meteoric rise in awareness around the importance of wellbeing since COVID-19 shut down offices and left people disconnected from both their colleagues and their personal networks.
But it’s one thing to recognise there is a need to actively foster wellbeing – both for individuals and for workplaces – it’s another thing entirely to put in place a strategy to improve wellbeing that actually works.
On a recent episode of Lumin Sports’ The High Performance Project, Adelaide Football Club leadership development manager Dan Jackson told hosts Ben Tripodi and Jack Shepherd that one of the keys to maintaining wellbeing and optimising performance in teams is to focus on connections.
“I think the problem with traditional firms is they start with performance as the goal and they go, right, ‘who can we get in to do that?’” Dan said on the podcast.
“The way I look at it, the model that I work to, is connection first, and it’s connection with self and connection with others.
“So what do I need to know about me that makes me an optimal performer? What can I contribute to the team? What are the things that I need to know about me that may let me down at times? And similarly, how can I build bonds with others so that we can synergise and work optimally?”
Dan said the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on everybody, but it’s a reminder that resilience is something that has to be worked on, and that you can’t build resilience without adversity. He said that with people working remotely, maintaining connection and finding ways to work collaboratively is crucial.
“The really fascinating one at the moment is this idea that the workplace of the office is dying and that COVID has shown us that we can all work remotely,” said Dan.
“I think it has shown us that we can all work independently. But what it's going to show us in the mental health statistics and case studies that will come out of this time… (is) that we're social creatures, and if we work from home all the time, I guarantee companies will perform worse because there's a tonne of research around the power of collaborative working.”
On an individual level, Dan said there is no silver bullet to improving wellbeing and self-awareness, but that it’s about trying different things. One thing he does personally is practice gratitude and write down things he’s grateful for.
“I've always celebrated my little wins for the day and maybe that's the athlete in me,” he said.
“But that's not that I did a PB in the gym… It might be I finished a book… or I had a really nice conversation with an old friend… that's my slant on gratitude mindfulness.
“I go for a walk every evening before I go to bed… and I just find that's a nice, mindful way of unwinding through my day and purpose… there's a million different ways to help identify what your purpose in life is… don't get stuck into thinking that what other people are doing is the only way to do it.
“Just try different things, work out what works for you. And don't be afraid to go back to stuff that's worked before. It's just the same with running. If you learn to run ten laps around the block, well, after a while, 10 laps isn't going to be increasing your fitness or challenging you anymore. You have to find a new way to challenge your fitness, or run more laps or run faster. Same thing with a lot of these kinds of practices… (if) you're finding you're not getting the same results… tweak it, try something different, add to it.”