HR, let’s go for a walk

In our work, we need to come up with comprehensive solutions to ensure that our company thrives. Throughout the working day, we all need a little break to gain some clarity. We need to distance ourselves from the task at hand and find a therapeutic distraction, like the “walk around the block” strategy. The HR department would see an improvement in employee satisfaction and completion of work objectives by educating their employees and managers on the resourcefulness of this strategy. 

Rebooting our brains

In a way, our brains are like a computer, used to access and absorb vital information. But like every computer, the brain will eventually overheat or need charging. Imagine an expensive and valuable laptop that you go to great lengths to maintain. You charge it regularly and update it when necessary. If you didn’t, it wouldn’t last as long, which jeopardises a vital resource. 

Your mind and brain need the same tender, loving care. We are susceptible to our own software viruses like chronic stress, which can lower our work performance and general well-being. As an HR practitioner, this is something we would want to avoid for ourselves and our employees. It is essential to recognise the signs of needing a break- even if the break is a ten-minute walk outside. We may feel we are missing something in our work and don’t have a clear picture of what to do next. Sometimes we need a fresh perspective and a chance to look at something from a new angle.

Integrating the “walk around the block” strategy into the culture of your business will give employees the liberty to determine their limits. The idea of stepping away from the keyboard or task to re-evaluate an objective has scientific value and support. It was discovered that workers coped well with their workload compared to days they didn’t fit in a 30-minute walk.

The signs don’t lie 

Let’s talk about the key signs that will alert you to your need for a break:

  1. Lack of focus: You find yourself becoming easily distracted or finding excuses to redirect your attention.
  2. Impatience: You may find yourself becoming agitated or impatient with your workload; perhaps it’s because your brain needs time to refresh. 
  3. Physical discomfort: Your muscles may be aching from sitting down too long, or your eyes are becoming strained from the computer screen.
  4. Low mood: You may feel unmotivated or overly critical of yourself and your achievements.

Noticing these signs for ourselves or the employees is the first step. The second step is recommending the “walk around the block” concept I mentioned earlier.  

I have experienced all of the above on high-pressure workdays. The best course of action is to step away from whatever you’re doing and distract yourself for a brief moment. Putting earphones in, stepping outside, and allowing the sunlight to hit your face will ground you to the moment, allowing you to breathe and regroup. Understanding and identifying these signs is the first step to rectifying a problem.

Let’s go for a stroll

Tunnel vision can be our worst enemy. We get our heads stuck in a washing machine and spun off course. Putting yourself in a different space physically will help you mentally. Stretching your muscles and relieving your eyes from the screen will provide an automatic sense of relief. A change of scenery will also make the difference between an employee’s best work and their stressed work. 

Scenario time:

Imagine it’s three in the afternoon, and your fingers have begun to cramp from hours of typing. The deadline for your monthly KPI is approaching, and you must produce your best work. As your focus slips away, you subconsciously peer around the office, looking for something simple to focus on. Beyond the window is a magpie perched on a branch directly in your line of vision. You gaze at the creature, wishing it were you stretching out your wings in the fresh air. So why shouldn’t you? 

After alerting the manager of your whereabouts, you step out into the crisp summer air. Inhaling the scent of freshly mown grass, you begin your route around the block. The trees lining the footpath provide you with occasional shade as your skin absorbs the warm beams of sunlight. Your mind clears as you appreciate the pale, blue sky and the bustling coffee shop you pass by. Soon your mind wanders back to your work. As your lungs receive a fresh inhalation of air, your thoughts begin to make sense. You begin to talk yourself through your next steps. The ideas that weren’t clicking before are now clicking.

Bingo! You know how to progress forward by the time you sit back into your seat and resume typing. 

Studies show that walking amongst nature has been linked to stress reduction. It has also been found that walking amongst nature can improve our attention span by twenty percent and improve our memory! How great is that? Walking also boosts our endorphins, improving our mood. All of this combined will bolster productivity altogether!  

I know what you’re thinking, “Music to my ears!” Amazing, right?

Anwar Khalil, the CEO of Myrecruitment+, is a big believer in the “going for a walk” strategy. He assured the team that “it’s all about the quality of the work, not the hours of work at a desk.” As long as we produced quality content and the walks were beneficial to our productivity, they were counted as work. 

HR should ensure that the managers of a company practice this philosophy within their teams whilst also listing it as a perk within job advertisements to attract the best candidates to the company. Applicant Tracking System (ATS)/Recruitment Software Platforms should allow the HR department to structure this perk as a part of the job descriptions for specific roles/all roles in their company. Myrecruitment+ has found this concept to be practical and super effective. 

Test it for yourself

Once you try the “walk around the block” strategy, you’ll see exactly what I mean. The things we can produce after refreshing our minds and going for a walk is impressive. Avoid the past workplace cultures that insist we be shackled to our desks until home time. Some people may thrive under pressure, but even the most advanced computers need to recharge. Walking, fresh air, and a change of scenery have a proven impact on productivity, and I encourage all to give it a go.