Source: Kenny Kline

A more productive team can be next year’s competitive advantage

Office burnout is a real slippery slope with harmful effects. But what is it exactly? According to the World Health Organization, it is defined as a “state of vital exhaustion.” It is more popularly classified as chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

Americans who are employed full-time work 8.4 hours per day, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. While that may seem reasonable, it’s important to note that these workers are more stressed than ever. Over 62% have concerns over finances, and over 61% are worried about job performance and security, according to American Institute of Stress. Additionally, stiff competition, stagnant wages, increases in expenses and the general cost-of-living contribute to physical and emotional strain.

It’s necessary for entrepreneurs and upper management to remember the importance of mental well-being of team members. Here are tips for eliminating fatigue and boosting morale at the office.

Use Ergonomic Equipment and Tools

Happy and comfortable workers can better serve customers Employees should identify opportunities for making work convenient, healthy and efficient. That means finding the right keyboard and mouse for their body type, and choosing the best office equipment that improve job performance. These prevent musculoskeletal disorders like tendinitis, muscle strains and back pain.

Many Fortune 500 companies use office equipment by Autonomous, a California-based supplier of ergonomic furniture and tools, to help employees better accomplish their job. Options include standing desks, versatile swivel chairs, modern office furniture and other equipment that reduce body discomfort and injury, as well as improve productivity. These significantly improve quality of life, given that most Americans spend 40-50 hours at work.

The break room is a key rally point: It boosts morale as a place where coworkers can share light-hearted conversations. Deadlines can be stressful enough, and workers need an outlet for decompressing and eliminating fatigue. Companies should consider installing comfortable furniture, upbeat designs and provide healthy snacks in the break room.

Allow Team Members to Take Frequent Breaks

A little break goes a long way. It’s a refresher that keeps team members from getting bored or zoned out. “To be honest, our brains just aren’t wired to take on the extended focus we demand of it these days,” says Steven Dorn, talent scout and founder XYZ Media.

“Brief interruptions are needed because most people just can’t focus on one thing for too long. Our brains evolved to detect and handle many changes of events and actions through the course of the day for survival. It’s a core part of human nature. More specifically speaking, though, I’d say a large reason why the XYZ Media team is able to stay focused and generate exceptional results for clients is because we blend the enjoyment of industry events in with office time. Nothing about how we operate is monotonous, which plays a role in keeping all our goals and objectives new and exciting in their own unique way.”

Regardless of level of seniority, workers should take a small break every 30-40 minutes. Unfortunately, 38% of employees don’t feel encouraged to take a lunch break, much less one that can be enjoyed outside of their workstations, according to a 2018 survey by Tork.

Staff members often work non-stop to give the impression that they are hard workers, but that does come at a high personal cost, as it leads to less time for families, hobbies, errands, and other priorities. In business, it’s performance that matters, not toil, and occasional breaks lead to superior results by boosting productivity, improving mental health and encouraging creativity. The best managers understand the need for personal breaks for the sake of self-care.

A five-minute break every half hour allows employees to decompress, stretch, hydrate, grab a fruit snack, and establish rapport with colleagues. It also gives them some time to simply stretch, which helps reduce muscle stiffness and lessens the risk of injury while also promoting blood circulation and relaxation. Moreover, taking their eyes off primary and secondary screens will help restore visual clarity.

Taking a short break isn’t a waste of time: It recharges people.

Promote a High-Performance Culture

Jeff Bezos wrote in a 1999 shareholder letter that Amazon employees need to commit to “constant improvement, experimentation and innovation in every initiative.” According to former GE CEO Jack Welch, culture is as critical as results.

A dysfunctional workplace saps everyone’s energy, and leads to hostility between coworkers, customers and other stakeholders. That’s because colleagues blame each other for mistakes rather than accept responsibility. Nothing gets done, which means people go to the office to finish inconsequential reports or unnecessary projects that don’t affect the company’s bottom line.

Employees are energized when they find meaning in their work. A high-performance culture means simplifying, communicating expectations, and doing things right the first time. It also raises profitability and helps a company beat the competition. In the construction industry, rework can waste between 2%-20% of a project’s contract amount, according to a study by the Construction Industry Institute. Rework is frustrating: Employees are misinformed of project goals and work on the wrong tasks.

Remote working arrangements can also increase productivity and efficiency. Workers spend an average of 225 hours commuting, according to 2018 data from U.S. Census Bureau. Long commutes are bad for health, and often leads to reduced fitness levels, and an increase in weight and stress. In addition to commute time, remote workers save more than $4,500 on fuel each year, according to U.S. Department of Transportation.

Office burnout can easily be avoided with the support of upper management. “Occasional breaks enable employees to recharge their batteries,” says David Muscat, Business Development Manager for Flexipay, “there’s nothing more important than fostering an environment where employees are comfortable and energized.” A high-performance culture encourages employees to adopt the right behaviors, and to accomplish personal and organizational goals.