According to ComPsych Corp, a provider of employee assistance programs worldwide, 63% of workers cite high levels of stress at work with extreme fatigue and feeling out of control.
According to psychologist Ben Palmer, CEO of Genos International, “The more you adopt the ‘do more with less’ mentality, the greater you drive down innovation because high workloads and stress are the antithesis of innovation.”
How to counter this? My suggestions from the field of resiliency and work./life integration:
(1) Remember that legacy can be a lien on the future. Are people doing “things” because no one has challenged the status quo?
(2) Encourage employees to be push-back zealots—asking them to point out activities that add no value to the end results.
(3) If there is merit in an activity, make sure everyone understands why.
(4) Be an on-the-ground leader. Look for points of stress within the organization and then work (not visit) alongside those employees.
(5) Recognize the law of diminished return. Specifically, the quantity of ones efforts and the quality of one’s efforts are not in balance. Major issues with rework, mis-communication, and even accidents occur when an employee is exhausted.
(6) Create fun in the process. An assisted living center needed to totally clean and paint the kitchen in the memory care unit of the building. The executive director told her staff to come in in old clothes and prepare for manual labor. The executive director led the charge, putting on upbeat music, encouraging singing while they worked, and had pizza brought in as a lunch treat. More work, yes. But because the senior leader became intimately involved AND made it fun, no one complained.
(7) Get outside assistance and coaching for employees to learn how to handle their own levels of stress on and off the job. I’m headed back to the East Coast next week to do just that. After all, we are responsible for the choices we make and can learn to respond in more life-affirming, re-energizing ways. It just might take an outsider to prompt this awareness.