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Making Your Health a Project

written by: Chris Greco • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 3/1/2016

The project team must perform at their peak by ensuring they have all the tools necessary to be successful. An area often neglected during the project is team members’ health. Several practices can increase the odds that you will have a healthy project team.

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    What is Health?

    Keeping your project team healthy In my book “Using L.O.V.E. to Prevent Becoming a Bully Boss," I list three important priorities. These three things are health, family and job. Health and family must always be top priorities. Your last priority is always the job. Although you need it, you certainly do not want that to interfere with your health or your family.

    But what is health? Most people feel that being healthy is enjoying normal activity without pain or discomfort.

    Our ability to place our vocation ahead of our vacation can be countered with some good health practices that, as project manager, you can share with your team. I asked a student pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy (DPT) at a top university, “Kaitlin" (not her real name), a few questions concerning health and the project manager. As a future physical therapist, she focused on the injuries or unhealthy habits that individuals incur in a normal work environment and tried to incorporate quality health routines into that environment. These healthy practices might help keep your project team at their best.

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    Incorporating Exercise When a Team Sits for Extended Periods

    Kaitlin stated that the best way to incorporate some type of activity into team meetings would be to use technology to ensure consistent timings. For instance, use a cell phone timer app or a fitness watch to schedule breaks. Kaitlin suggested breaking every 30 minutes for a set of exercises that will help stretch the neck and back area to counter the effect of the meeting, especially if people are using laptops or other devices during the meeting. Studies show that using a computer can put an undue stress on the shoulders and neck area. Check the References section for exercises you can do.

    Kaitlin stated that meetings should really be no more than 30 minutes to an hour. After a long time in meetings, people become distracted. Ailments that can include sore necks, painful shoulders or headaches.

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    Health and Business Investment

    Concern for your team’s health shows you are altruistic and wish the best for others. This attitude can increase the team’s motivation and productivity. However, what does it do for your business? Let’s roll through some numbers to show some of the savings from keeping your project team healthy.

    If each team member is paid $40 per hour and they are each sick for two days, $640 dollars of salary is paid for no work (if they have the time off accrued, otherwise you are still investing that money in any contracts where you would not getting reimbursed). That may not sound like that much, but what is more revealing is the impact on the project and the team.

    Let’s say that the ailing individual is in charge of the electrical connections for the project and he is the only one that can do that. This means that other project team members cannot get their work done and may have to remain idle for the period that the electrician is sick.

    If the team is composed of 10 people and eight of them are dependent on the electricity, and they all earn $40 per hour, you now have sacrificed a total of $5760.

    Let’s go one step further. If the person that is sick was incubating during the time before they were sick and it is contagious, you may have others that will get sick shortly thereafter and bring that cost up even higher. This cost does not count supplies and materials that will remain in inventory, as well as the project stakeholder who will be undoubtedly hovering to get the project complete.

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    Scheduling and Team Health

    As a project manager, consider the scheduling of the project as a major impact on the project team. If you do not think strategically in the schedule, your team will be trying to catch up during all phases of the project. The short-term stress can cause illnesses. Scheduling can be enhanced through listing the major tasks and trying to ensure you do not have a single point of failure (now referred to as the “single point of expertise") where the absence of one person will cascade project timing into the next millennia.

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    Pay Close Attention

    The main area that a project manager should be aware of is the sick time people are taking. Are they out more than they are in? Do they have an incessant cough or sneeze? Although this could be an indication of sickness, it could also indicate some type of allergic reaction to the environment. Are there mice present? Is there dust in the air? Are the chairs uncomfortable or is there no room for people to stand if they desire at meetings? All of these things need to be considered and an attempt should be made by the project manager to make the environment as clean as possible.

    In many instances, a project manager can help reduce this sick time by simply caring for their team. A few indicators, as mentioned above during our interview include frequent late arrivals, dozing at meetings, sneezing or coughing almost uncontrollably and just plain malaise. In these instances, it is best to let the team member seek some medical attention or just letting them go home and get some rest. The one thing you want to do is keep the team healthy and that might mean losing some of the team for a short period.

    Consider your team, their health, and their welfare and your projects will not only run smoother, but you will also be requested by other project teams who will hear about your altruistic nature and management. Good health! (Or as the German phrase says “Gesundheit" or “Health").