In the business world, it can be tough to find that perfect balance and achieve optimum productivity. The day often turns out much differently than it was planned over morning coffee. Stress is a fact of life for professionals. But there are many ways you can cope so it doesn’t take over your day-to-day performance or well-being. Business leaders from all backgrounds are looking for outside-the-box strategies to reduce stress and make the most out of each hour. Here are some approaches to consider implementing so you and your team fire on all cylinders — minus the afterburn. Meditation is now a multi-billion dollar business. Clearly, we are all seeking ways to reduce our stress and quiet our minds. As the year winds down, business owners and executives often do an assessment of operations and decide how to improve productivity and revenue for the upcoming year.
Measurable costs like utilities, office supplies and vendor contracts are often revisited and analyzed for improvement. How often, however, do companies stop and assess the toll of intangible things on bottom line? Things like employee well-being are often difficult to measure but have a big impact on the overall success of a business. Stress is more than a mental state and can cause serious physical ailments. Extended stress has a detrimental effect on physical health because the body enters a “fight or flight” state and neglects other vital basic bodily functions like digestion. Stress also negatively impacts the alertness of the mind, and leads to a drowsy, non-productive state when the burst of adrenaline wears off. Employees under constant stress are unhappy and are simply less productive.
When considering ways to improve efficiency in the coming year, do not overlook stress reduction in the office or virtual office environment. Here are a few expert suggestions on how to make this valuable improvement: A stressful workplace is fraught with tension, and can be a very unpleasant place to be. Productivity in the workplace can seriously suffer. People snapping at one another and pushing themselves to the limit for an extended period of time does little to create a healthy working environment, which will inevitably have a negative effect on your business. Consider taking these steps in order to foster a productive, calmer working environment. When you’re falling behind, your biggest temptation is often to crank up your output — but how many times has stress caused you to shut down completely? Rather than increasing your self-imposed pressure, learn to step back with ways that don’t kill your workflow or your creativity. Here are some of the ways to de-stress yourself and improve the productivity at your workplace too:
Have A Routine
Superior organizational skills set successful professionals apart from the rest. It’s incredibly easy to get overwhelmed when you fail to create and maintain an organizational system that works for you. Before you can collect yourself, tasks can slip through the cracks. Instill a firm strategy for organization throughout your entire company to help ensure high productivity and a focus on important objectives. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, either. Project-management software and team-collaboration programs can assist as you work to keep your entire team on the same page in terms of workload and prioritization. Tools such as WorkZone allow you to create in-depth to-do lists, ease individual workload and promote open communication across a wide variety of tasks.
Clearly, you do not want to give your employees lots of time off. However, allowing them to have a bit of down time during the day is vital to enabling them to recharge their batteries. Consider giving your employees a little bit longer at lunch, or allow them to break up the afternoon and you will see that the levels of productivity in the workplace will remain high throughout the day.
As great as social media is, no one can deny it poses a serious — and possibly detrimental — threat to productivity. You won’t be able to prevent each and every employee from checking their newsfeeds. And blocking social-media sites from your company’s server isn’t a realistic option. However, you can implement a number of strategies to help people disconnect when needed. For starters, try encouraging everyone to use a time-blocking model. You and your team members might set aside certain times strictly for checking to-do lists, answering emails, catching up on industry news or some other agreed-upon task. Once a productive flow develops, budget time for checking social-media updates as its own (smaller) time block.
Here’s another approach: Use AntiSocial or another app to track exactly how much time is spent on social media. This same tool can — at the user’s request — block those time-wasting sites to remove the temptation. Interruptions can be extremely costly. Many people are addicted to social media in some form or another. The inability to control it can spell death for productively. The work environment you create has an effect on your general outlook and affects everyone engaged in your mission. Company cultures are changing, in part because millennials are rewriting the rule book as they flood the marketplace. But keep in mind that nothing should be written in stone. As your company evolves, assess the strategies in play and adapt them to change how your business helps everyone manage stress and boost productivity.
Indulge In Other Activities
Get offline. We are all online too much. It’s affecting our concentration, our focus, and our happiness. It’s increasing our stress, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy. The internet is giving us all ADHD. Chocolate is a wonder-food. Chocolate kicks our workouts up a notch and contains stress fighting chemicals, which are good for the heart and brain. Meditation physically changes your brain. In an eight-week study, experts found differences in brain volume in five different regions in the brains of those who consistently meditated. Can’t escape to a yoga class in the middle of the day? You can download a mindfulness app on your phone and escape during your lunch break, or in between meetings. Consider giving your employees a little bit longer at lunch, or allow them to break up the afternoon and you will see that the levels of productivity in the workplace will remain high throughout the day.
You likely have a stack of business books on your desk or nightstand. These really aren’t escapes. They don’t allow you to turn off your business mind and detach from the pressures of work. One of my favorite stress-relievers is losing myself in a great piece of fiction. There are simply times when getting away from a desk or cubicle is needed. Create a serene spot in the building that is designated a “quiet area” where employees can escape for a few minutes when needed. According to Geek.com, search engine conglomerate Google offers its employees nap pods in order to help them regain energy and get away from negative feelings associated with stress during a normal workday. While not every company has the resources of Google, a smaller-scale space for relaxation is easy to create.
You do not have to have a gym onsite to give employees the encouragement to workout. Reach out to local health clubs in the area and ask about company discounts. If you have it in your budget to match some of the membership fees, even if it is less than $10, do it. You can also contact fitness class instructors and ask about a weekly lunchtime visit to hold a class at the workplace. Either pay for this service or ask for a reduced per class rate for employees that want to attend. Hire a listener. Retain a professional psychologist, therapist or clergyperson to visit the office one or two times each month. Have a set time when the professional plans to be in the building and allow employees leeway to go in and speak with him or her.
Many non-denominational chaplains now offer corporate services in order to reduce workplace stress. Employees may be too tired or worn out to seek out the listening ear of a psychologist or other trained listener in their free time; providing this option during office hours is a smart way to let employees decompress and discuss workplace, or even personal, stressors in a non-threatening environment. It is becoming something of standard practice, but its importance should not be underestimated. People need to have a bit of time off work to refuel, and team-building days are a great opportunity to give your employees a bit of time off, whilst trying to foster good relationships between them. If you choose the right activity, you will soon see dramatic improvements in your employees’ productivity.
Expand Work Environment
The thought of being cooped up for hours and hours every day can seem like a death sentence for some people. Before email and the internet, submitting to 40 hours a week within the same four walls was the norm. Modern workers can be productive nearly anywhere their bandwidth connection can find a steady signal. For this reason, many companies are offering flexible work arrangements, including remote teams. In addition, giving employees the ability to work outside the office allows more time with family and less fear they’ll miss out on life’s precious moments. Tools such as Slack and HipChat make it simple to stay in constant contact with employees or give them more freedom, as appropriate to the individual and the project at hand. Multitasking is deceptive. We think we are accomplishing more, but we are actually accomplishing less. Employee well-being has one of the biggest impacts on the success of a business.
Many businesses see a great benefit in having one day every week where the employees can dress down. Psychologically, it is a way in which the employees are able to remind themselves that they are human and not just suited robots in the workplace. Your employees will enjoy the chance to show off their unique styles in the office. To maximize success, the company needs to be a safe space for brainstorming. Spontaneity, wackiness, physical movement, encouragement and openness are all crucial parts of a successful idea-generating session. While there needs to be a specific reason why you’re meeting, don’t automatically rule out all rough ideas — build off of them instead. Make it fun — have people act out their ideas or compare them to fictional situations. If your office climate isn’t good for unfettered brainstorming, consider establishing your own work area as a safe space for ideas whenever you’re part of a group project.