Constant work, no sleep, never shutting off? The idea that a continuous state of work means you will get more work done is flawed. It can be traced back to the principles of the Industrial Revolution: More production = more product. When applying these principles to humans at best it’s misguided and at worst, damaging. Keep reading to learn why burnout costs your agency real money.
“Hustle culture” is making you and your employees less productive.
Burnout or ‘workplace stress’ can cost anywhere between $125 to $190 billion dollars a year.
The World Health Organization defines burnout as “Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
2) increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job;
3) reduced professional efficacy. Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”
Sometimes taking a break is the best choice
During the busy times of an agency the pressure on you, your employees, and your colleagues to never stop working can be overwhelming. Oddly enough, taking a break can be the best thing to do for that workload.
The best way to get more work done is to take time not working.
Now, unclench your jaw, drop your shoulders, and take a big, deep breath in.
Positive reinforcement and autonomy.
You can motivate and engage yourself, your coworkers, and your employees by asking for and giving out positive feedback. Burnout is partly characterized by negative feelings and cynicism. These feelings can be combated with positive reinforcement or autonomy.
Tell your employees and coworkers when they’re doing something well and give constructive criticism when necessary.
Giving workers autonomy over their jobs and tasks can improve feelings of positivity in the workplace. Trusting them to prioritise their own time can motivate and inspire a workforce.
Go for a walk.
At AntiSocial Solutions, we’re lucky enough to work in a dog-friendly space with furry coworkers who remind us that a loop around the block isn’t such a bad idea. Plus, exercise is proven to combat stress. And, interestingly enough, walking can actually help you work through problems you’re stuck on.
Encourage your employees to take short breaks where they leave their work station.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Even when you can’t take ten minutes to step outside, take 30 seconds and do some deep breathing exercises. By breathing slowly and deeply, you’re sending a signal to your central nervous system that it’s all good, helping to calm your mind.
The 4-7-8 Technique: Close your eyes and exhale completely. Take a deep breath in through your nose, counting mentally to 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Then, exhale through your mouth, counting to 8. Repeat.
The 4-7-8 technique is used to mentally calm yourself. If you can’t hold your breath that long, don’t worry. The ratio is more important than the actual length of seconds. Try 2-3.5-4 instead.
At AntiSocial, we’ve provided ‘Office Yoga’ sessions to encourage employees to breathe and relax.
The coffee shakes.
Unpopular but true: Caffeine can increase your anxiety levels. Agency life can lend itself to late hours and skipped meals and we know (oh, we know) there’s a time and place for Redbull and espresso shots. We’re not saying switch to decaf, just be mindful of how much caffeine you’re consuming.
Employers can provide healthy drink alternatives in the workplace. It may be necessary to address the need for excessive caffeine from a macro level: Are employees overworked? Are they unengaged? What is leading, if anything, to the excess in consumption?
A 2011 Harvard study reported that insomnia costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity. It’s not because they’re missing work but because they’re not as effective at work due to being tired.
Don’t look at your phone before bed. The blue light emitted by your smartphone suppresses the secretion of melatonin (the sleep hormone) in your brain.
Employers can offer flex schedule or stress/mental health days to employees. Encourage them to be well-rested, even if it means taking a morning off or adjusting workday hours from 9-5 to 10-6.
Turn off your email notifications during after-work hours.
You’re doing yourself and your company a disservice by being ‘on’ all the time. Turn your email and Slack notifications off and unplug from work when you’re off the clock. A better work-life balance means you’re a happier, more productive person when you’re at work. So, time off actually benefits corporations more than constant work.
Encourage your coworkers or employees to do the same. Make ‘after hours’ work calls emergency-priority only and make sure it’s clear that your employees are not expected to work off the clock. Vacations, too are proven to be productivity boosters.