5 ways to overcome the workplace productivity paradox

5 ways to overcome the workplace productivity paradox

Did you know that 70 percent of employees report spending more than 40 hours a week in the workplace?

And it’s not just to get ahead and climb the corporate ladder, as nearly half say they work extra hours just to complete work they didn’t have time to do during the eight-hour day.

As the work piles higher and higher, stress levels go up. Burnout is prevalent, and it takes a real toll on employees and employers alike as productivity plummets and employees look for new opportunities in better work environments.

And while that may not surprise you, the solution just might help your employees lower stress by getting more work done. Yes, more work.

To learn more, I spoke with Neil Ringel, executive vice president, Staples Business Advantage, North America. For the second year in a row, the Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index surveyed more than 3,000 workers and managers in the United States and Canada to uncover what matters most to employees in the workplace.

Ringel says that workers today are dealing with more work-life integration than ever before and its effects are draining. Stress levels need to come down so employees feel energized and focused, making them more effective and productive in their jobs.

“Decreasing employee stress levels to increase productivity sounds like a paradox, but it can be done,” said Ringel.

To establish this win/win workplace culture, he suggests that employers focus on the following:

1. Don’t just offer a wellness program, truly customize it

Sixty-two percent of respondents to the Workplace Index said the availability of a wellness program is a selling point. But not all programs are created equal.

Poll your staff and understand their goals. While installing an onsite gym may seem like the obvious answer, smaller changes, like the availability of fresh foods, can have a great effect on the office. According to Ringel, better health behaviors increase the mental, emotional, and physical health of workers and generate more effective and valuable employee performance.

2. Eliminate distractions with smart office design

Workplace distractions can get in the way of employees doing their best work. Respondents cited noise from co-workers as their top distractor for the second year in a row. Employers should offer a variety of workspaces conducive to different types of work, including private, quiet spaces for focus and larger areas for collaboration and group discussion.

3. Provide employees with the technology they need to do their jobs

Even productive employees believe that the right tools and technology can help offices to become more efficient. Three out of four respondents said their employers do not give them access to the latest technology that would help them do their job more efficiently. This could be a wearable device, smart phone, or technology that enables them to telecommute or recapture lost time in airports or hotel rooms.

4. Offer office perks and encourage breaks

Employers should create a culture that encourages short breaks throughout the day and office gatherings to disconnect. Seventy-eight percent of employees said they feel more productive after a break. The overbearing problem is that workers are reluctant to take breaks because of guilt. That’s why, when asked for solutions to burnout, over half of the employees surveyed said they wished breaks were actively encouraged.

5. Recognize employees and help them be heard

According to Ringel, the survey found that employees want recognition for their work, which can improve office morale. Recognition can re-energize employees, boost confidence, and improve motivation and productivity. Employers should also create an open-door environment where employees can speak their minds and be heard. People feel good when they are acknowledged and valued and will, in turn, work harder to reach company goals.

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