You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself

Microsoft recently held its first ever Women’s Wellness event, which focused on how to keep your mind and body fit and healthy inside and outside the office. Those sharing their thoughts included Olympic gold-medal-winning hockey player Crista Cullen, BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Clare McDonnell and Microsoft UK’s Senior Human Resources Director Theresa McHenry. Here, McHenry shares her views on the importance of mental and physical wellbeing.

 

At Microsoft we want employees to thrive and lead satisfying and productive lives at work and at home. We want to support a healthy, productive and engaged workforce, create an environment that permeates wellbeing and foster a culture of wellbeing.

We provide a range of services to support wellbeing, as well as resources when people are unwell. As well as onsite wellbeing centres, we have a 24/7 “dr@hand” service, which offers online access to a GP for up to three appointments a year for employees and families, as well as direct access to physiotherapists for consultation and support. Our wellbeing centres offer supportive, preventative measures – stress management, weight loss, smoking cessation etc – and they run various events and promotions throughout the year aimed at healthy living and early identification of illness or disease. Our wellness offering includes weekly Skype mindfulness and yoga sessions accessible during the working day. We also have an employee assistance line for confidential help, support and advise on a wide range of topics from consumer legal advice to counselling.

Microsoft has made a concious effort to make sure its working environments promote health and wellbeing, with access to gym facilities, collaborative working spaces, relaxation areas, cafes, effective work stations, desk space and meeting rooms.

We want to promote the importance of physical and mental health in the workplace becuase we understand that rest and recovery is as vital to success as pace and drive. Leaders need to invest in themselves and the wellbeing of their teams, encouraging and supporting people to identify their own needs. Creating an environment in which people can ask for help when they need it and know they have a supportive and collaborative working environment around them will allow them to flourish and thrive. Role models should be open and available when life is challenging, living a “learn-it-all” not “know-it-all” culture. Microsoft has a culture in which the success and support of others is as important as the results themselves. We respect and encourage diversity through a range of employee groups focused on gay and lesbian issues, accessibility, parents and carers, plus many more. These provide an important community and voice for people.

On a personal level, I need to manage my energy levels and balance my drive at work with rest and recovery in order to be successful. That means eating healthily, getting enough sleep, physical exercise to build strength and fitness, being outdoors, yoga and meditation – all on a regular basis. Taking walks and breaks during the working day in addition to more structured exercise and downtime outside the office is important, too.

As a leader at Microsoft, I expect my team to take care of themselves as well as I take care of myself. I want to be a role model and support them when they need it, while paying attention to their needs. As a professional, working person, as well as a mother, wife and sister, I want to be in good shape – mentally and physically – to cope with the demands of life inside and outside the office. It can be easy to deprioritise taking care of yourself in the long list of things of things we have to do, but you can’t be at your best for others if you don’t take care of yourself.