Over the last few decades, the business world has been gripped with paranoia about productivity. Companies have adopted numerous philosophies and systems aimed at removing every last inefficiency from their operations. Anything that isn’t contributing directly to higher output and profitability is seen as wasteful and unnecessary. Although the impulse to be more successful is a good one, many professionals can be short-sighted. In the effort to become leaner, faster and more productive, they may be putting too much strain on their employees. A corporate culture that pushes people too hard is working against itself.
Think of it this way: A car’s engine can only run for so long before the lubricants break down and the metal components begin to grind against each other. It’s necessary to ease off the gas and provide the necessary fuel before you redline and cause serious damage to the motor. The same is true for your employees. Overworking and demanding 110% effort all the time will only hurt them. The World Health Organization recognized this tendency in 2019 when it added burnout to its Classification of Diseases.
When Employees Work Themselves Sick
If you think burnout is a joke, think again. When people push themselves too hard, it can lead to a number of very real mental and physical symptoms, any one of which can have a serious effect on your organization. Those who appear to be going above and beyond by working past 5 p.m. or over weekends are most likely operating at half-capacity the rest of the time to make up for it. They may also be moodier, less likely to cooperate with their teammates and short-tempered.
In some cases, overworked individuals may suffer from flu-like ailments such as fatigue and headaches. It’s also not uncommon for them to call in “sick” just to get a break. The bottom line is that business owners and HR managers ignore the problem of burnout at their own peril.
On the other hand, people who have a normal work-life balance are generally more beneficial to their employers. Even though they’re not “on” 24/7, healthy team members tend to deliver a higher level of performance during their 40 hours a week. They’re able to handle details more effectively, collaborate well with others, communicate honestly and seek out new challenges. This is because they’re rested, relaxed and in a better mood overall.
How to Relieve Stress and Tension in Your Workplace
If you want to create a positive environment in your offices and facilities, take the necessary steps to prevent overwhelming your people. Although the most obvious response would be to decrease workload, there are other ways to mitigate the effects of feeling overworked. For example, establishing flex hours and offering more vacation time could give your staff the opportunity to take a breather when they need one. Just knowing they have the option can be reassuring for many.
A little recognition can go a long way, as well. Providing positive feedback and asking team members to add their own input will encourage an open flow of communication, which can greatly lift morale. Don’t forget to reward good performance with incentives such as additional PTO. Try offering a corporate gym membership or building an on-site fitness center to give your people a chance to burn off some stress and boost energy levels.
If you’re truly worried about your staff’s productivity, pressuring them to work harder and faster isn’t the answer. Instead, think about how you can support personnel with a healthier work-life balance. For more information about why this matters and how you can make a positive impact, take a look at the accompanying infographic.
Graphic created by iPlum a provider of a 2nd phone line for cell phones.
About the author: Michael Xavier is the product evangelist at iPlum, which provides separate business phone lines on existing personal phones with the same high quality. iPlum, available in 22 languages, has been adopted by millions of users worldwide.