A primary concern among employers is managing employees’ workload. According to a Boston College study, 44% of Americans said they were overworked often or very often. The study found that increased contact between employers and employees due to advances in technology stripped away the barriers between work and life. Stressed-out folks with a poor work-life balance are more likely to leave their jobs — tanking your employee retention rate.
Employers are feeling pressure to push their teams to complete work quickly and competently. How do you accomplish what you need to without sacrificing employee happiness and well-being?
1. Cut meaningless busy work
Start by evaluating everything your team does in a day. Cut every meeting that isn’t absolutely essential. Encourage employees to check email only during specific times of day.
Employees also feel like they’re required to show that they’re doing work rather than actually working. For example, constantly filing reports or telling a supervisor what work they’ve accomplished eats up precious time without increasing productivity.
2. Schedule uninterrupted work time
Our Employee Engagement Report found that 23% of workers felt that “putting out fires instead of being focused” was a major problem at their workplace. Because of this, they’re not able to focus on truly important matters, leading to high levels of stress.
One way to avoid this is to schedule times for uninterrupted individual work. Trust that employees will get done what they need to get done if given the freedom to do so. Assurance, an independent insurance company, has allowed employees 8 to 10 hours of “priority work time” per week with positive results, according to Harvard Business Review.
3. Lead by example
By saying no to busy work, you show your team that productivity counts. Constantly reevaluate what’s essential and what could be cut to save time. Don’t be afraid to discard something that’s not working. Only put your team on projects uniquely suited to their skills. And don’t send emails at all hours of the night. By achieving your own work-life balance, you’ll show employees that it matters.
4. Encourage employees to use vacation time
By being flexible with when employees take vacation, you’ll allow them some much-needed downtime to rest and recuperate And by helping them manage their workload when they return, you’ll ensure they don’t regret taking time off.
5. Know your business cycles
Every business has times of year that are busier than others. Communicate to employees well ahead of time to make sure that they understand things will be getting tough. Be sure that everyone understands that during the busy season, they’ll have to put in extra hours. Find a way to equitably distribute work among employees and be as organized as possible to keep things running smoothly.
With a global, 24/7 work culture putting pressure on managers and employers, it’s no wonder that everyone feels overworked. Being conscious of this environment and taking steps to mitigate its effects will pay dividends for your team.