Who is the most engaged employee in your organization?
That question may immediately remind of the lady that is way too happy on Monday mornings, or the guy that smiles and nods through an entire presentation. You may think of the person who is always first to arrive, last to leave, and never even seems to take a breath during the day.
The truth is that those people might actually care too much to be great at their job.
Chronic stress results from a number of issues, but one that drives the burnout epidemic is overload. While some cultures celebrate working 16-hour days, it is vital to recognize that as an unsustainable pace. Sure, an occasional project or deadline may require people to start early and stay late, but without a balance of workload stress and rest, burnout becomes much more likely.
The view of attempting to extract as many hours from an employee as possible is outdated. Working more often makes us feel even busier, spread even more thin, and can lead to serious mental health issues. Research indicates that the average worker is productive for less than three hours each day and that doing fewer tasks and taking more breaks actually increases productivity.
Some employers are taking a different approach to engagement: demanding that their people do less. Katie Burke, chief people officer at HubSpot, recently instructed her team to choose three things they would not do before the end of the quarter, “no matter who asks you to do them.”
The future of work is employers who take an active role in helping their people integrate work into their lives, rather than putting their lives on pause to come to work. Actively decreasing workload can be an important strategy in attracting and retaining great talent, and creating a lower-stress work environment makes employees happier, healthier, and more productive.
This also means employers can help with the non-work stressors: money, relationships, and health are all opportunities for organizations to prove they care about their people by addressing their greatest challenges. Programs that actively empower employees to use working hours to address their non-work stressors demonstrate that an employer truly cares about the person and not just the productivity.
Companies that want to win the war for talent have the opportunity to reimagine work as a place that helps people balance the most important aspects of their lives, increasing productivity and profit by letting go of the false pretense that extracting as much as possible from people creates more revenue.