Are our children well—and are they becoming well adults and responsible citizens? This question isn’t just for parents; every organization, large and small, has a stake in the answer.
Because when it comes to the welfare of today’s kids, there is a lot to be concerned about: the lack of nutrition for positive mental and physical development, along with an increase in the number of children who are overweight or obese; the harmful effects of screen time on child health; isolation, loneliness, anxiety and depression at earlier ages; and violence, from school shootings in the USA to conflict zones in the Middle East to peer bullying across the world. These challenges and more influence the sense of security, confidence and wellbeing of our children and, as a result, impact those who raise them. Moreover, these forces shape the employees our kids will become. The wise adage, “It takes a village to raise a child,” encourages all of us, whether parents or not, to invest in nurturing the next generation.
Let these ideas enhance wellness for you, your coworkers and family—and kids everywhere.
Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, once said, “The business of business is improving the state of the world.” If kids are not at the forefront of our minds when we expand our organization or launch a new work initiative, we inadvertently limit our vision and potential impact. Children are tomorrow’s global workforces. Wise organizations know it isn’t enough to focus on current employees. We must equip tomorrow’s workforce with inner resourcefulness—the foundation of resilience and wellbeing—to effectively embrace the challenges and complexities of the future.
HOW TO GROW TOMORROW’S HEALTHY WORKFORCE
The health and wellbeing of kids can shape the engagement, energy, ingenuity and wisdom they bring to organizations as adults. What steps can you take, both inside and outside your workplace, to nurture well kids? Consider these actions:
• Sponsor a family wellness retreat. Family wellness is a pillar of employee and community wellness. Provide opportunities for employees, their kids and loved ones to gather for relaxation, bondingand fun. While planning the event, remember: When it comes to family, there is no such thing as typical. Families today include nuclear families; stepfamilies; grandparent families; childless families; blended families; extended families; single-, same-sex- and multi-parent families; and chosen families. Design a wellness retreat that embraces this broader notion of family, and the kids will experience an inclusiveness and positive connection essential to their healthy development.
• Take them outdoors. Richard Louv, author of The Last Child in the Woods, says, “If children do not attach to the land, they will not reap the psychological and spiritual benefits they can glean from nature, nor will they feel a long-term commitment to the environment, to the place.” Encourage children to go outdoors and get messy! Do a scavenger hunt, have a picnic, organize a play date in the woods, build a rock sculpture, go for a night walk, or do an environmental project such as picking up trash. Physical literacy at an early age helps children become active for life, and it supports their gut and immune system health, self-esteem and confidence. It also creates a sense of environmental responsibility that can last through adulthood.
• Help kids feel a sense of self. Teach children of all ages how to connect with their inner security, wellbeing, peace and resilience. A variety of apps, such as Wuf Shanti, Breathe-Think-Do, Mandala Memory, Headspace, Zen Bound and many more, engage toddlers and young children in thoughtful puzzles, yoga stretches, and conscious creativity and play. Plus, schools with meditation programs are reporting “better attendance and grades, fewer suspensions, and generally happier and less aggressive kids.” The world (and likely, your organization) is not going to slow down or get any less complex any time soon; equipping kids with the skills for self-awareness, self-regulation and emotional management will go far in helping them embrace and positively shape our ever-changing world.
• Curb your devices. Invite employees to set healthy boundaries with technology, for example, committing to device-free meals with family. (Our friends at Sesame Street can show you how it’s done!) Plus, share these screen-time guidelines for children of all ages to ensure that technology empowers rather than erodes their mental and physical wellbeing.
• Get inspired! Learn from employers worldwide who are making significant commitments to the wellbeing of children. For instance, check out Nike’s Made to Play community impact initiative that gets +16 million kids physically active across the globe or IKEA’s War Child effort to provide children in conflict zones a safe space to play. Establish commitments to children that make sense for your organization.
• Nurture sustainability literacy at a young age. The wellbeing of kids is a thread woven through the United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), and kids can help bring those goals to life. Elyx, the UN’s first digital ambassador, offers a fun book that parents, teachers and mentors can read with children; Go-Goals teaches kids about the SDGs in an engaging board game; and the tank engine, Thomas & FriendsTM, helps families learn about the SDGs together. Invite employees, schools and community members to use these resources to involve children in creating a healthier, more sustainable world.
• Engage younger generations to ensure your workplace culture and wellness programming meets their unique needs. Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010) are digital natives moving into your workplace now. They have grown up in a world of increasing complexity and accelerated change—many say, a world of anxiety—and value a holistic approach to wellness, high-ethics companies, solving problems through dialogue, and social causes. Alphas (born post-2010) are your workforce to come. Forecasted to be two billion in size, they are the most transformative, globally connected generation ever.