Often the greatest limitation facing workforce productivity is not time; it’s energy. You can’t get maximum productivity out of your team (or yourself) if everyone is so exhausted after the workday that all they can manage is collapsing on the couch.
What the research says
One study reported in The Harvard Business Review looked at over 100 employees at a dozen bank locations. They trained study participants in strategies for strengthening one of four different dimensions of energy (physical, cognitive, emotional, and “spirit”). After a year, they evaluated year-over-year performance according to several metrics the bank itself tracked. Seventy-one percent said the training noticeably improved their productivity and performance. Sixty-eight percent said it even benefitted their client and customer relationships.
Another study looked at hundreds of patients receiving treatment for depression for whom low energy was a principal symptom. They discovered that improving energy levels was “more strongly related to improved work productivity than was a decrease in the number of depressive symptoms.” In other words, boosting energy did more than treating their depression as a whole!
What businesses should do?
There’s no magic formula for building and maintaining high energy levels. Basic strategies like establishing healthy habits that include exercise and good nutrition go a long way. Other tips include:
8 Tips for Energized Productivity
1. Get enough sleep. Try to establish a consistent sleep routine followed even on weekends.
2. Get out of the office and go for a short walk to avoid feeling like you’ve just run a non-stop marathon.
3. Learn and practice stress management techniques.
4. Use time and project management techniques to avoid becoming overwhelmed by tasks.
5. Set boundaries. Learn to say no and try to limit distractions. For example, turn off device notifications.
6. Build a support network of personal and professional mentors, advisors, and confidantes.
7. Engage in activities that refresh and recharge you; schedule them into your calendar if necessary.
8. Watch your thoughts; negative thinking and self-talk are energy drains. Talk to a counselor if it helps.
Employers and leaders can help their teams with some of these strategies. For example, companies can encourage (and sometimes even enforce) employees to take time to recharge with policies around breaks. At a minimum, do not inadvertently worsen the problem by penalizing employees who try to recharge.
For example, it’s a good idea to take breaks after every 90- to 120-minute work period. These 15-30 minutes shouldn’t be spent at the computer. Instead, employees should step outside, take a brief brisk walk, engage in some meditation or deep breathing, etc.
Employers who frown upon or even outright disallow these kinds of activities may be undermining their own productivity. Instead, encourage employees to engage in the breaks and activities needed to preserve and enhance their energy levels.
CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.