It is always empowering to speak with a strong and powerful woman such as Dr Jaime Lee, founder of Health Quotient. Coming from a medical background, it was no easy feat to give up her career to move towards opening her own business. Instead, with her deep knowledge, she chose to work closely with company leaders on unlocking the mindsets and beliefs around health. Now she is catalysing a movement towards compassionate and healthy organisations. Dr Jaime was also a special guest during the recent AIA Live where she spoke about the importance as well as the science of breathing to combat stress during these trying times. We speak to Dr Jaime to find out more about her business and understand why she does what she does.
The Journey To Health Quotient
Q: I understand that you started Health Quotient as a way to transform workplaces by inspiring individual health and whole organisational renewal. How do you do this?
We create tailored and integrated health and performance programs for our clients. This can range from experiential workshops with top teams, to an inspirational keynote speaking event for a whole group, to an end-end health and performance program designed for the company’s needs. We focus on the small lifestyles changes that have a big impact and on unlocking the mindsets around health and self-care. There is both a science and an art to sustaining high performance as a leader in today’s rapidly changing world. Successfully transforming organisations into healthier workplaces will unleash the full potential of their talent.
Q: Why did you decide to leave the front lines as a surgical resident to start your own company?
I actually changed careers twice! I went from a surgical resident to being a management consultant at McKinsey, and then left the corporate world to start my own company. I started Health Quotient because I saw that the way organisations were working, and the pace at which they were working at, was exhausting, especially in times with digital transformations, AI, and machine learning.
This is contributing to rising levels of burnout, anxiety and depression. Furthermore, the biggest killers today are stress-related and chronic diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, which are all influenced by lifestyle choices.
The times that we live and work in now calls for a more sustainable, kinder and healthier way of working; a more human way of working. As leaders, we need to be able to transform how we ‘show up’ to work each day, ensuring ourselves and our team members are prepared physically, mentally, socially and spiritually to invest in careers and lives that expand far beyond ‘this quarter’s goals’.
It was with this vision of creating kinder and healthier workplaces that Health Quotient emerged, and now we work with companies all over the world to achieve employee health and resilience as the foundation for organisational success.
How is Health Quotient Relevant?
Q: The best performing companies seem to be the ones with the most overworked employees. Why do you believe that individual health and self-care is an important aspect of workplace performance?
In the short term, it would seem like you get a lot out of your employees, but it’s not sustainable in the long-term. So, these companies would either be compromising on productivity or quality in the short-term, or employee retention and inspiration in the long-term. Overworked employees may seem productive, but they are not operating at their best. They are operating from a place of survival, as opposed to innovation, creativity and performance.
Individual health and self-care are absolutely critical to workplace performance because organisations are ultimately made up of people. The health and wellbeing of employees is the foundation of their success. Organisations who increase their attention and focus on prioritising the health of their employees will be those who thrive in the future. Furthermore, people will be more creative, passionate and innovative, and they will actually stay. Retaining high-quality talent will be a key differentiator for companies.
Q: In our society, many still believe that overworking and overtime are solutions to higher productivity, how was it like for you when you first introduced the concept of self-care and individual health to local companies?
The early reactions were varied – from confusion (“What do you mean…rest?”) to celebration and excitement (“This is a must!”). Generally, there’s scepticism about the term “self-care” and “rest”, coupled with the cultural attitude that “doing” means better. However, when I showed with scientific methods and data that rest is critical to performance, the concept of rest and self-care was very well-received and Health Quotient began to grow significantly.
Q: What are some unhealthy trends that you see today or foresee in the near future that we should watch out for?
The first is an addiction to action – we love “doing”; it makes us feel good. Every “swoosh” that chimes as an email or message is sent send a little signal to the reward centre in our brain.
Another unhealthy trend is the increased feelings of loneliness and social isolation. This is credited largely to the COVID-19 pandemic which has significantly reshaped the global economy, the labour force, how we work, and where we work. Whilst we have the technologies and platforms to stay connected remotely, humans are social creatures and without adequate human-to-human connection, our mental health will be affected.
Other trends include the increased uptake in alcohol with social isolation, high screen times and poor gut health.
Q: What are some ways we can practice self-care and compassion in today’s society?
Start with small steps to be healthy in body and mind. Choose 1 small health/lifestyle change you would like to make. You can also try to schedule in the calendar 10 mins every 2 hours which are just for you. Perhaps a quick walk around the block, a cup of tea or 10 big breaths.
Smile broadly at yourself in the mirror – not a quick smile, not a smirk and run; I’m talking about a big happy smile to yourself as you start your day. This is a deceptively simple act, but one which if you practice, you are being kind to yourself.
The last is to find an activity that brings you joy and incorporate it into your day or week!
Q: What is an important aspect of wellness that we should be practicing but often overlook?
Appreciate the space in between… everything: Take the 2 mins before your next meeting to breathe and appreciate the view out your window. Take 5 mins to make a cup of tea; notice the space between your inhale and exhale, and the exhale and inhale – there is a gap.
Try doing nothing at all! Notice how you feel when you are doing nothing, simply nothing, and just resting in your being.
Do belly breathing: When you inhale, belly rises, and when you exhale, belly falls.
Say a sincere “thank you” to one person, a loved one and a stranger, once a day. Expressing gratitude and kindness promotes wellbeing.
Connect with loved ones regularly in a meaningful way.
Do check out Dr Jaime Lee’s session and catch the full replay of AIA Live at their YouTube channel here.
We wish Jaime and Health Quotient all the best in their future endeavours! To find out more about their offerings and what they do, visit their website here.
Images: Dr Jaime Lee, Health Quotient, Pexels and Unsplash