How to Combat Stress, Burnout, Loneliness, and Low Productivity at the Workplace
The Problems of Demanding Workplaces
Contemporary workplaces are very demanding in terms of the physical and mental toll they extract from the employees. With ever-increasing competition among businesses and scarce resources, organizations demand more from the employees who perceive it as asking too much for too less.
Also, longer working hours, the need to be reachable at all times of the day, and the insistent checking of Emails and messages on ones Smartphone, both for personal and professional reasons leaves employees distracted, unfocused, tired, and burnout.
The combination of stress, technology-mediated working, and loneliness due to lack of emotional empathy among coworkers leads to low productivity.
This creates a vicious loop where low productivity becomes the norm which makes employers demand that employees perform better and in turn, push the same factors that have created the situation in the first place.
Thus, the challenging work environment leads to physical health issues such as RSI or Repetitive Strain Injury, caused by sitting longer hours at the desk and using computers and Smartphones in a repetitive manner as well as mental health issues such as depression, and lack of focus that leads to repeated absence from work and hence, monetary and non-monetary losses for both employers and employees.
Some Measures that Employers can implement to address these problems
However, these problems are not insurmountable meaning that employers and employees need not put up with these disorders at work that leads to financial and emotional losses. Instead, some practical steps can be taken to combat these problems.
For instance, research has shown that multitasking at work where employees constantly switching from working on deliverables and checking Emails and Social Media updates or talking on the phone between work tasks can be addressed by having them take breaks from work that are designed to let them release stress by chatting with other coworkers or logging into the internet.
In this way, Human Resource Managers can monitor the employees better by walling of personal and professional work. Further, employees can be asked to desist from checking social media at their work desks and instead, providing them with access to dedicated computers that they can use during their breaks. Apart from this, HR managers can also encourage employees to talk about their personal problems with assigned mentors in confidence so that they can be motivated to work better by actualizing a caring and sharing the workplace.
Some Recent Steps taken by Governments
Indeed, some of the measures that corporates and governments around the world are taking are pointers to the ways and means as well as the solutions that can be used to address these problems.
For instance, France passed a law recently where employers are prohibited from requiring their employees to be available past the working hours thereby ensuring that they can spend quality time with their families.
In addition, Britain recently passed the Thriving at Work Act that encourages employers to support employees with personal problems as well as psychological issues to take time off with full benefits so that they can recuperate and rejuvenate themselves. In addition, the act specifies that employers select designated mentors to talk to the employees and guide them through their challenges and problems.
Apart from this, another practical measure that can be taken includes setting up hotlines where employees can call them and talk to them about their problems in confidence.
Above all, what these measures address are the problems of loneliness and stress caused by overworking as well as lack of emotional empathy between coworkers due to technology and the ever-accelerating pace of life. Indeed, measures such as working from home and having peer groups to promote bonding can also help.
Employees too need to take responsibility
Having said that, it is not only the employers but also the employees who have to take responsibility for their work-related problems. It is not enough to ban social media at the work desks when employees can login on their Smartphones.
Since it is practically not possible to ban personal phones, the employees have to voluntarily not check them during work and attend only to personal calls that are urgent in nature. In addition, if possible, not smoking at work can be a good way to address personal health issue and low productivity.
Apart from this, employees must also focus on work during the work hours so as to not leave work for the evenings or at home that would help them refresh the next days work.
Further, employees should make an effort to reach out to their co-workers and engage with them so that lasting bonds are formed between them that can lead to further improvements in the quality of life at the workplace.
Thus, it is indeed the case that to combat these modern day problems at the workplace, all stakeholders must act together to ensure that such problems are addressed.
Lastly, the key point to note here is that contemporary organizations have reached a stage where they either address these issues or risk falling into the low productivity trap.
Indeed, the fact that worldwide there has been a decrease in employee productivity at work as reported by recent research shows that there is an urgent need to address these problems before they go out of hand.
To conclude, personal responsibility and employer-supported measures would go a long way in addressing the present crisis in organizations that would not only lead to a happier and healthier workplace but would also improve organizational outcomes.
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