In the recent years the extent of employee burnout has been brought up to public attention and has since been a heated debate with pursuit of a solution
An article was recently published on SHRM with the goal of encouraging leaders to promote and prioritize employee wellness in the workplace, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. While this may seem obviously significant, advice of this sort wasn’t even a topic of conversation in years past. Employees are making demands for better working conditions or life balance, and simultaneously new scientific studies are uncovering the negative impact of stress in the workplace and occupational burnout.
While it might seem that some of these efforts might distract your employees from achieving their highest potential or pace of productivity, the reality is that they will likely show up in a more energetic, fully-present, and prepared manner. Further driving full buy-in are a few alarming statistics:
The past few years really forced a few global lessons onto the general population - primarily, work to live might be a better mantra than live to work. And we’re seeing massive shifts in workplace culture as a result. Business owners and leaders must start prioritizing the well-being of their employees, and that means taking active steps to not only provide resources, opportunities, and flexibility to support that mission, but engaging with them to ensure those efforts are successful.
Hybrid Work Models
With current and accessible technology, we’re discovering that it’s not always necessary to be physically present in an office to perform a job to the best of one’s ability - and in fact - sometimes going to an office hinders the ability to do so.
There’s value to gathering in person. The power of community and the ability to feel inspired by those around you, brainstorming creative ideas, asking questions, and the physical presence of a team can add positive energy to working conditions. On the other hand, it can be distracting. Valuable time is lost commuting to and from an office, leaving for lunch, lollygagging in the break room for extended periods of time, or getting lost in social conversations throughout the day.
Pay attention to when physical presence is truly a value-add, and optimize time required in the office appropriately.
Efficiency in the Work Day
As we shift deeper and deeper into a virtual work space, so much of the day is spent logging onto meetings. Inevitably the majority of our day is often consumed in meetings, leaving little time to complete our actual work. “Zoom Fatigue” is a real problem that individuals are experiencing. Spending hours on end tuned into these conversations is mentally and even physically draining.
Trust your employees to get their work done autonomously. Keep avenues of communication open for questions or roadblocks, but do your best to keep the meetings to a minimum, allowing employees the maximum amount of time in their day to complete tasks and projects.
Flexible Work Hours
When there is trust and productivity in the workplace, it’s not necessarily relevant when the work is happening - as long as it’s completed on time. If it takes an employee three hours to produce high-quality work as opposed to dragging out one single task for five or six hours, all the better for everyone.
Maybe an employee working remotely has children at home to care for, so they wake up and are “on the clock” starting at 5am local time, and complete most of what they need to for the day by 9am, but still make themselves available for conversations or meetings at appropriate times throughout the day. The organization still benefits from that work.
Instead of wasting company funds on expensive material holiday gifts or fancy catering for lunch (in an office that’s underutilized), plan staff retreats or coffee outings, providing meaningful opportunities for the team to gather.
Recognize employees for their work and efforts by selecting an employee of the month and invite the entire team to a dinner to celebrate. Finding opportunities that rewards and recognize individuals works wonders for team morale – not to mention the importance of building professional relationships through conversation that doesn’t revolve around work.
Benefits and Development
Ensure that you are offering employee benefits that truly benefit the employee. Beyond traditional healthcare and 401k, invest in the well-being of your employees through wellness programs or stipends, healthier options for in-office food and drink, partnerships with fitness organizations, etc.
Provide professional development programs and opportunities that are relevant and valuable to each individual employee. Beyond the group opportunities, conferences, or programs, prioritize time with each employee to build those individual relationships to have a solid understanding of their goals and career path. Offering specific developmental opportunities that cater to the skill set or interests of your employees will have a much larger impact – not only on their well-being, but their ability to perform their current job.
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