Bradley Brodkin

Bradley Brodkin

Founder, Chief Executive Officer

As we come to the end of our 46th week being in some form of lockdown or restriction—and with many of us in industries working remotely—our physical & mental health and well-being is very much front of mind for me, as I’m sure it is for many of you.  In my case, as the owner and operator of a business with a family culture, it is a subject that weighs heavily on me.  So much so, that ‘Caring for People’, along with finding the right work & personal life balance, are part of our core values. 
I’m certain that most of you, like me, were completely unprepared mentally for what came about last March.  But when it did happen, we all made the best of it, along with our families thinking that we would be back in our offices at some point in the not-too-distant future.  Of course, we all knew fairly soon that that was not going to be the case, and in fact, we had to start preparing ourselves for what was inevitably on the horizon. But one of the many differences between that time and now is that we knew then that better weather was coming and, at least here in Toronto, within a very short period we would be able to get both fresh air and exercise without having to brave a winter storm—or just downright bitter cold.

"Simply put, rest and relaxation should not be negotiable, but an obligation."

Much is written and discussed about the importance of physical fitness and its importance in helping us manage our mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines: “health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. They further state that “there is no health without mental health”. I am by no means a physical or mental health expert, but I do walk twice daily (we have two dogs) and am fortunate to own and use an elliptical machine 3-4 times per week. And because I lost my dad at a young age (I was 23, he was 56), I have always been very aware of my own health. Although I could do even more, I try my best to stay in shape and eat healthy, which also helps offset the many things I do that I could surely do less of 😇.
Yet, I am not writing about me, because it is not solely about me, but about the people of HighVail, and by extension anyone who is reading this post. By that, I mean that as a business owner, I know the importance of providing my team what they need to be successful. And one key thing is getting out for some fresh air and exercise. Since the start of the pandemic, I have made a point of talking about physical health and the importance of doing something as simple as taking a walk every day. I have also stressed to everyone the importance of mental health awareness for both themselves, as well as for their family members. I have reminded them of the availability of support through our healthcare system, the community or privately by taking advantage of our health benefits plan and, of course, just reaching out to me and each other whenever needed for support and reassurance. But when I got some resistance about taking time out of their workday for some physical activity, I knew I had to (and did) make it clear that each of them needs to make it a priority and further encouraged them to do so.  Yes, we all have a job to get done, but we also do not have the burden of travel time, etc.  We all tend to ignore “normal” business hours, which I in no way condone, but if we make this part of our overall work-related responsibilities, we can all find the time to fit it in. In my view, an hour of physical activity and regular breaks from calls and daily responsibilities is a key part of their individual performance and success.  Simply put, rest and relaxation should not be negotiable, but an obligation on the part of the employee and the employer. I read in another article on a similar topic that “chill time is necessary” and gives our brains “the time to recharge”. I firmly believe that!
In addition to this, I personally make sure to reach out to everyone regularly and we “meet” virtually as a team every Friday for some business talk, but mostly for some fun banter and end of week cheer (that may optionally involve some liquid refreshment)—which was a part of our regular Friday routine pre-pandemic. I also remind them all to look at the positives and just how fortunate we are. Reminders to be grateful for what we have and are accomplishing are a constant. I also involve everyone in what is going on, where we are as a company, and any other events or activities that are happening. Employee Experience is something we have focussed on for several years, and I do not want that to slip despite the pandemic and distance between us.
So, in closing, I want to say to those of you that lead teams or are a business owner like myself: I believe we are nothing without those that surround and support us. We should all be mindful of each individual’s personal situation, and if they are able, kindly promote or suggest some physical activity as a support for their mental well-being. Recognize the importance of being strong both individually and as a team in achieving the personal and business goals we all desire and strive for. As I said above, I am no expert, but I do know that when I have done some exercise or when I come in from a walk, I am always more productive and happier overall than before I started. I hope that is a good endorsement, but this is just my own personal perspective and point of view. I would love to hear from you and your thoughts on this topic.  Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day, which along with other times throughout the year, are reminders for us to think about our and others mental health.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t be conscious and aware of it daily, because frankly, the pressures and stresses we all face don’t really take any breaks unless we help to do something about them. 
Whatever you do, stay safe, healthy & be well; nothing is more important than that!
All the best today and everyday! 

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