Almost two years into the pandemic, the lines between work and home are increasingly blurred and this has taken its toll on employees’ energy levels. Harry Bliss offers some strategies to boost workforce wellbeing and productivity.
We all know that tired employees are not effective ones, and the last two years have blurred the lines between work and home to the point where the connection between our personal and professional lives has never been felt more intensely.
Our Workplace Health Report for 2022 found that while every area of wellbeing impacts performance, the stand-out issue at the moment is that employees are tired. And this is affecting their ability to work significantly.
Most employees we surveyed reported their daily energy levels as ‘fatigued’ and over 50% reported that lack of energy affected their productivity.
This tiredness epidemic is not surprising, given the demands that have been placed on employees over the last few years.
They have been asked to adapt and respond in ways that organisations would have never imagined, and for many the move to hybrid or remote models of working has also taken its toll.
The time has come for leaders and employees to work together, to find ways of maintaining high levels of performance at work, without wearing your people out. But how can managers energise their teams? We’ve worked with a number of organisations and the following, practical steps have resonated.
Reset the work-life balance
Remote working is facilitating an “always on” culture, with more employees working longer hours, working through illnesses and struggling to switch off. These issues are further compounded by stresses surrounding workload, which affected 76% of employees in our sample.
To address this, we need to be encouraging people to set clear boundaries between their personal and professional lives.
Leaders are essential to driving this behaviour change. If your employees see their leaders setting (and sticking to) healthy boundaries between work and home, then they are more likely to do the same.
If you’re a people manager, get your leadership team involved and start to role model the healthy behaviours you want to see across your entire workforce.
Leaders should set the right example through actions. This could include only contacting your team during working hours, or encouraging employees to take regular breaks, even when their workload is high.
Work smarter, not harder
In finding answers to the tiredness facing our workforce, I’m always wary of over-simplifying the solutions.
It is far too easy, for instance, to just say that organisations must reduce employee workloads or hire more staff. These options are preferable, but often unrealistic.
However, we cannot allow ourselves to think that the solution lies in asking employees to work longer or harder, especially as our data shows that workload is already the leading cause of work-related stress.
This is completely unviable both from a wellbeing and a performance angle.
Therefore, leaders should try and find ways to increase the capacity of their people to work, without increasing their workload or working hours.
Your employees are ready to improve their energy levels – they just need the means to make it happen.”
For example, I encourage my employees to prioritise deep work or important meetings at the time of day where energy levels are high (our data reveals this time to be 10:22AM), allowing employees to schedule less demanding tasks for when energy levels are naturally lower (3:31PM).
Match means to motivation
Our report shows that 94% of professionals are motivated to make health changes, and energy levels emerged as the top health area that employees would like to focus on. Over two thirds of professionals would like to feel less tired.
Your employees are ready to improve their energy levels – they just need the means to make it happen.
Our data also highlighted the importance of creating space for your employees to make these positive changes, with 43% citing time as a barrier to engaging with wellbeing.
With this in mind, I implore all leaders to ensure that wellbeing initiatives fit in around busy schedules and are not viewed as an extra task for employees who are already exhausted and extremely time-poor.
One strategy we use is the ‘Champion 20’. This is an initiative where every employee takes 20 minutes every day to prioritise their wellbeing.
Turn insight into action
When we first analysed the data in our survey, it confirmed what we had learnt from working on the ground with organisations.
The picture it painted was one of employees experiencing tiredness and stress, which was diminishing their productivity.
But we also saw that the vast majority employees are motivated to make positive changes to their wellbeing.
There is an opportunity for leaders to capitalise on this motivation, and work with their people to address employee fatigue. By doing so, organisations can reap the rewards that come with happier, healthier and more energised people.