British dominance of the seas in the 1700s, in part is linked to the simple discovery that citrus fruits cured scurvy. Feeding British sailors’ limes, made it possible for British ships to stay at sea for longer missions than enemy ships.
Today’s captains of industry who realize that stress is the greatest threat to their crews and who give their people tools like Tai Chi to avoid illness and burnout will dominate in business.
Motivation, Health and Stress Management are the key to a happy working environment, which in turn allows good team work and productivity to be attained.
A healthy business, from the Management team to the Shop floor operator, will function with vigour and conviction if the team is relaxed; motivated with the intent to succeed and each is happy within themselves. Nurturing peoples inner self pours light into the darkest of places and enlightens the most difficult problems facing the modern company.
Through Tai Chi Chuan the inner self becomes more confident. The relaxed attitude of the work force permeates throughout, giving a corporeal well being to the business.
Individuals grow to know themselves, understand others and focus on the intention of making the business grow, as they are doing within themselves.
By clearing the mind, Tai Chi reminds you that life is a miracle
Finding the Way with HR
Information to the HR Director
· The Least You Need to Know
· Why Tai Chi’s a natural for the office
· What Tai Chi can accomplish at the workplace
· Incorporating Tai Chi in the workplace
· Considering costs
The benefits of starting a Tai Chi program at work
Corporations all over Europe are integrating the powerful health and personal growth tools of Tai Chi into the fabric of the workplace. It can save companies large sums of money, is very applicable to the office, can lessen workplace injury, reduce stress, and boost performance.
When Tai Chi and QiGong help us let go of physical, emotional, and mental tension, it literally expands our “imagination muscle.” As we let go of old patterns, we open up to new and exciting concepts that our old, tense bodies and minds couldn’t comprehend. We learn more easily and are more creative in using what we learn.”
Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.””
Investing in Creative Potential
If Tai Chi can help employees recover from illnesses and thereby reduce absenteeism, that can also mean major savings. But what about creativity? Tai Chi’s meditative quality enables practitioners to become more creative as they let go of being locked into old patterns. A popular corporate expression is to “think outside the box,” which means to look beyond the established way of doing things, to try to find new and innovative approaches, capitalizing on constantly changing tools and technology. It’s a useful concept, but how do you really think outside the box? You have to release the old ways of doing things. Again, Tai Chi is about letting go of everything, mentally, emotionally, and physically which requires releasing prejudices and preconceptions, making you clearer and more open to new possibilities and potential. If Tai Chi can help employees think outside the box, this will open them up to fresh innovative approaches and may boost profits more than anything you could begin to measure.
Helping with Lower Back Problems and Carpal Tunnel
Lower back problems are a large part of costly, unscheduled absenteeism. Tai Chi is very effective at helping with chronic lower back pain, as well as other chronic pain problems.
Since Tai Chi is the very best balance training in the world, causing participants to be half as likely to suffer falling injuries as others, workplace injuries can be reduced dramatically. Some Tai Chi exercises are very similar to exercises designed to prevent Repetitive Stress Injury, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Therefore, you may be hitting several birds with your well-thrown stone.
Even though QiGong can be done at your desk, it is also good to take breaks away from the workstation, in any quiet room where you can do Tai Chi in relative silence.
Then when you return to your workstation, the QiGong will be even more effective, as if you brought some of the silence with you.
Tai Chi is “biofeedback without the computer.”
Tai Chi is a Natural for the Office
One thing that makes Tai Chi uniquely ideal for the workplace is that it requires no special clothing or equipment. If you have 15 minutes and a quiet room, you are all set to experience some amazing stress reduction and energy boosting.
Since it is so slow and gentle, you often need not work up a sweat. By simply loosening your tie or kicking off your heels, you are all set to do some Qiqong, the Long Form or the Basic Short Form and pupils realize they can “achieve” anywhere with no special wardrobe needs and little space. In fact, Sitting QiGong or simple Moving QiGong can be done right at your desk or any working environment. As employees become more adept at these tools of breath and relaxation, they’ll use them throughout the day to reduce stress and boost performance.
By simply kicking off your heels and loosening your tie, you are “suited” up for a Tai Chi break.
What your co-workers and you will soon discover is that the more loose and flexible you are physically, the more flexible you will become in your social and business interactions.
We literally hold onto prejudices, grudges, and resistance to change in our body’s tight muscles. We cannot open our minds if we don’t allow our bodies to loosen up. The promotion of deep loosening and relaxed motion promotes a letting go of the control issues we all have. It can facilitate a looser, yet more productive work environment as communication becomes easier between employees who less and less resemble walking, emotional land mines.
Tai Chi diffuses the stress bombs that build up within us and can make the workplace not only less dangerous, but more fun. We can discover the “real person” in our co-workers as their rigid armour begins to fall away. Part of that “realness” is the fun part of ourselves we were in touch with as children. A rigid workplace environment can hide that fun, more vulnerable part of us. Therefore, Tai Chi may not only help us enjoy our work more, but the company of our co-workers as well. Again, the Chinese say Tai Chi helps return us to that magical youthful state of mind, which is not childish but childlike.
A Fountain of Youth
Tai Chi will help you get over that prejudice, while also slowing the aging process in many ways. The Chinese believe as we practice Tai Chi it returns us to a state of “child-likeness” (but not childishness), where we see the world with fresh eyes. This allows us the freedom to reinvent ourselves easily and constantly, just as children do, enabling us to flow with the changes of life. We can once again be flexible and exuberant, while still benefiting from the wisdom of experience (like being able to hit our mouth with the spoon, well, most of the time). So Tai Chi has the ability to renew us, and through that renewal enhance our strength, health, and creativity.
Tai Chi, Inc.—Incorporating Tai Chi into Your Workplace
Tai Chi encourages us to let go of old ways and patterns while opening us to new, better ways of doing things. As discussed earlier, it can help us think outside the box, to be open to fresh, innovative approaches. Companies are doing it in their own way, and finding out how to use these tools to fit their needs.
Many health insurance companies are now subsidizing or covering the cost of Tai Chi and/or QiGong classes.
Office Politics and the “Great Corporate Cosmos”
Most companies are painfully aware that the machinations of office politics are a severe drain on productivity. On a personal level, most of us are all too familiar with the energy drain that office politics can cause.
Know Your Chinese
As an HR director you will be aware that most employee problems are stress related. The more stress management tools that HR departments can provide employees, the quieter things will be on the front lines of the HR office. Some employees have commented that when disagreements arise, whether they are between employees or between employees and management, Tai Chi’s calming influence made a constructive exchange of differing opinions possible.
The intra-office political manoeuvring we often call office politics, which involves employees wasting time trying to alter office opinion of others through gossip or innuendo, is mostly rooted in fear and control issues. The more relaxed and at ease we are with ourselves, the more at ease we will be with co-workers, rather than reading our fear into office relationships. Again, Tai Chi exercises not only help cleanse our mind and heart of rootless fears, but can help us let go of control issues. Tai Chi’s exercises, when done correctly, help us let go of attachment to outcome or destination, and just learn to flow through more effortless changes.
Tai Chi helps us to break from unhealthy patterns of internal fear or stress responses, and this can resonate out to the office relationships, helping us and our co-workers be both calmer and more productive. Just as tension begets tension, calm can help beget calm in those around us.
On the other hand, if you truly do not like your job, the quiet mindfulness that Tai Chi offers can help you come to terms with it. Its focusing aspect may help you decide what you want, how to get it, and how to be calm and poised enough to perform a great interview for the job you do want. Then someone who really does want your job can come along and fill it, and the great flowing energy of the corporate cosmos can do its thing.
When possible, try taking a 15-minute Tai Chi break before any major discussion or disagreement with a boss, employee, or co-worker. Let go of all the reasons, justifications, or accusations associated with the issue as you let go of every muscle with each sighing exhale. In fact, let go of the issue entirely. When you come back to it, you will likely approach the problem in a much more comprehensively beneficial way that will more likely leave all parties winning.
Costs can vary widely. If you are a HR Director, the important thing to remember is that cheaper is not better. If you get a cut rate Tai Chi program that few employees take advantage of, then you are not really saving your company any money. If absenteeism or disciplinary problems decline or productivity increases after the introduction of a class at your company, then your company will profit in the long run. It is therefore in your best interest to find a good instructor, one who is knowledgeable, approachable, and fun, who can connect daily work stresses to their approach, and make their classes effective stress management sessions.
Investing in Tai Chi Programs
There are several ways companies can invest in Tai Chi. Some companies passively promote it, offering a space for employees to practice during lunch or after work. Others do much more.
The best Tai Chi and Stress Management seminars are optional. Provide employees with the option of working or attending the seminar, but do not make the seminar mandatory. Most people will opt for the seminar to get a break from work anyway, but the quality of the seminar is completely different if the employee has chosen to be there. This is the first step in an employee creating their own healthy lifestyle. If it’s someone else’s idea, we resist, but if we feel empowered to change ourselves, we have a vested interest in a positive outcome.
Some companies may reward Tai Chi practitioners with a 30-minute morning break, if instead of drinking coffee for 15 minutes, they use the 30-minute break to attend morning classes in the area provided. This could be done in conjunction with a video or live class during lunch or after work.
For the daily Tai Chi breaks, sign-in sheets could be used to document employee participation. This information may be helpful to acquire rebates or subsidies from company health insurance providers to cover the cost of Tai Chi classes.
If employees attend a morning Tai Chi or QiGong class, have half of the class start before work and half during paid work time. The potential savings in employee health, productivity, and attitude will more than make up for the minimal investment of the half hour of pay. Companies can thereby take the lead in encouraging employees to take up healthful habits that in turn promote decreased absenteeism, increased productivity, and diminished disciplinary problems.
The Least You Need to Know
Who: From the Shop floor to upper Management
Where: In the Canteen or an empty office, anywhere there is space
Space: A minimum area of 6 sq metres per pupil
Time: Anytime that fits within the working day, or even before or after.
Needs: Just bring yourself in loose fitting clothes
Classes: last between 1 and 1-1/2 hrs
· “Tie”-Chi help companies save money.
· Tai Chi can be done in work clothes in any quiet location.
· Tai Chi can help employees get along.
Tai Chi is based on the principle that the world doesn’t need to be held up by our worrying mind and tense body. In fact, we are much more helpful to the world (and far more enjoyable to be around) if we can let go of as much stress as possible. Realizing this principle is the first big step to letting Tai Chi reopen you to your own personal rejuvenating “fountain of energy”!