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5-min exercises 'could' be key to worker happiness

29 January, 2015

A group of academics have devised a series short five-minute exercises they hope will make workers happier on the job.

The seven-day online wellbeing programs are the brainchild of a team of psychologists from Murdoch University and Ludwig Maximilian University.

The exercises are based on scientific findings from the field of positive psychology which focuses on the scientific understanding of human flourishing, strengths and wellbeing, and the promotion of happiness.

Participants can sign up online for the exercises and answer questionnaires about their experiences to help researchers compare the effectiveness of two differing exercise programs.

The researchers said the exercises were designed to improve mental health and the wellbeing of workers around Australia.

"Mental health issues are unfortunately on the rise, resulting in businesses and organisations losing billions of dollars in lost working hours," said Lena Neumeier, the lead researcher from Murdoch Unversity.

"The increase in mental health problems is a burden not only for the economy, but also for families, communities and society as a whole.

"In the workplace there should be a greater focus on the promotion of wellbeing and the prevention of mental health issues respectively, and employers should be more aware of their responsibility.

"The techniques we are using in the programs can help to build resilience against any mental health problems that can occur.

"Just like normal physical exercise, you need to do the wellbeing exercises on a regular basis in order to feel the benefits. So participants should continue to use the exercises they learn from the study to reap the full rewards."

More specifics revealed when you sign up

Neumeier couldn't reveal the specifics of the exercises to ensure the feedback to each of the programs is as accurate as possible, she said both programs would be easy to integrate into the daily work routine.

All instructions are sent via email so participation is possible with any web-enabled device.

Neumeier said if her team could successfully show their programs had a positive impact on participants, they would recommend organisations and businesses integrate such programs into their employee policies.

"This kind of program is a cost effective way of promoting wellbeing at work," she said.

"It's a method that requires no personal contact and it could be translated to be used in offices all over the world."

Holistic approach to workers' wellbeing

Neumeier emphasised that the program would not be able to solve all mental health issues in the workplace and she is not claiming that it is the crucial key to happiness.

"However, we think that by participating in the program you can get at least one step closer to your happiest possible self at work," she said.

"Companies like Facebook and Google are examples of workplaces that already take a holistic approach to their employees' wellbeing. Studies have shown that these methods lead to increased productivity and a higher return for a firm's investment in their employees. They in turn are more loyal, more motivated and more willing to give something back.

"Of course, the benefits are not only palpable for companies but also for employees themselves, who are supported to lead a happier and healthier life.

"Facilitating high standards of wellbeing and happiness in the workplace is a win-win."

Learn more about the workplace wellbeing study and sign up for participation by visiting the project's website.

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