Job performance and productivity contribute heavily to the success of a business—but when it comes at the expense of employee mental health and well-being, long-term success becomes harder to maintain.
Luckily, employers can leverage effective strategies and productivity hacks—such as the 80/20 rule, the Eisenhower Matrix, time blocking, and more—to maintain a culture of well-being that increases employee engagement and reduces burnout.
Let’s take a look at five productivity hacks that employers can use to optimize productivity while keeping the holistic health of employees top of mind.
Optimizing Productivity Without Jeopardizing Well-Being
High-stress work environments can quickly jeopardize the well-being of employees.
Without sufficient measures to regulate workloads, adapt management styles to individual needs, and promote work-life balance, employees are forced to choose between their performance and their well-being.
According to a report by UKG, 81% of employees currently prioritize mental health over increased pay. What’s more, 64% of employees admit they would leave their current jobs for positions that pay less in exchange for a healthier culture that prioritizes their mental well-being.
The American Institute of Stress outlines 50 common signs of stress to look out for in individuals, many of which illustrate how stress can manifest in the workplace. Some examples include:
- Social withdrawal or isolation
- Lies or excuses to cover up incomplete work
- Increased frustration, irritability, or edginess
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks
When employees are overly stressed, they have less motivation to be productive, are more likely to look for work elsewhere, and have difficulty applying critical thinking skills. Among other effects, highly-stressed employees are also prone to central nervous, muscular, and immune system problems as well, which affects their well-being inside and outside of work.
Optimizing for performance while fostering a culture that supports employee well-being instills long-term benefits for workforces and employers alike. When done intentionally, mindfully, and with the proper tools, low-stress, high-productivity organizations not only position themselves to hit goals, maximize output, and achieve outcomes.
They also lay the foundation for helping employees recognize stressors, develop healthier habits, and own their unique paths to well-being.
Related Reading: Employee Burnout Signs: What to Watch For and How to Prevent It
5 Productivity Hacks to Help Employees Prevent Burnout
Using these productivity hacks, employers can create work environments that boost productivity and prioritizes well-being without increasing stress or burnout.
Productivity Hack #1: Pareto’s Principle, or the “80/20 Rule”
When it comes to reducing stress and burnout, many employers struggle to figure out how to minimize stress while maximizing productivity. At first glance, both goals together seem contradictory, but tackling the problem starts at the source of stress itself.
Enter the 80/20 rule. Also known as Pareto’s Principle, this rule states that 80% of results come from 20% (or less) of the causes.
For example, consider the fact that 20% of plants produce 80% of fruit, in which the output supersedes the source. This principle is often used to help organizations recognize their most productive assets or inputs so they can focus on and nurture them to facilitate success.
In the context of mitigating workplace burnout, employers may choose to identify the 20% of repetitive, smaller tasks that take up 80% of an employee’s time. When these tasks are identified, automating or delegating them can help relieve workloads, reshift focus to more important assignments, and ultimately take more responsibilities off an employee’s plate.
Productivity Hack #2: The Eisenhower Matrix
A lack of organization in the workplace is inherently a cause for stress. When employees accumulate too many projects and can’t devote time and energy to each, they can easily become overstimulated and burned out.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a strategy for organizing multiple tasks in order of importance. When using this method, it’s easier to recognize which tasks to complete first, which still need to be completed but are not a top priority, which to delegate, and which to delete.
By implementing the Eisenhower Matrix as part of an organizational framework, employees are better positioned to recognize tasks to complete and deadlines to manage, which can help them structure their days accordingly and in a way that works best for them.
The Eisenhower Matrix also introduces a perfect opportunity for team-building and leadership development. According to Gallup, strong teams start with the individual, so the better employees know their unique, individual strengths, the easier it will be to form strong partnerships, streamline workflows, reduce stress, and be more productive.
Productivity Hack #3: The Pomodoro Technique
Allowing employees time for adequate and regular breaks is necessary for well-being.
But in addition to the standard break structure in most organizations, the Pomodoro Technique is a strategy that splits work up into smaller, more productive chunks with shorter breaks in between.
Traditionally, this technique involves working consistently for 25 minutes at a time, taking a five-minute break, and starting again. After four 25-minute periods, the technique advises a longer break of 15-30 minutes before starting from the top again.
A large task or project can often feel overwhelming, and added deadline pressure can escalate burnout in an effort to finish on time. By encouraging employees to take breaks, employers can equip their teams with the tools they need to thrive.
This, in turn, can lead to improved productivity, as employees are better able to focus and maintain their energy throughout the day.
💡 Pro tip: For a different approach, employers can also educate employees—both remote and in the office—on the importance of staying active while working at a desk. Most experts recommend standing for at least 15 minutes every hour to improve physical health. By encouraging frequent breaks to stand up and move around, employers can support the physical well-being of employees.
Productivity Hack #4: Time Blocking
Time blocking has long been an effective way to boost productivity and reduce stress by dedicating certain blocks of time—usually within a work day or week—to specific tasks.
Unlike the Pomodoro Technique, which is meant to help retain focus by breaking up a day into more digestible chunks, time blocking is more of an organizational technique. But to facilitate effective time blocking in the workplace, it’s important to ensure that employees have access to robust and easy-to-use calendar tools, like Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook.
By enabling employees to create designated time blocks for certain projects without interruptions, workforces are able to:
- Reduce multitasking, procrastination, and distractions
- Bake regular breaks, buffers, and time to eat into their workdays
- Create effective organizational habits
- Reduce feelings of stress and overstimulation
Not everyone is comfortable using the same productivity tool, so one way to approach time blocking with empathy is to ask employees which time management tools they prefer and implement those as part of their workflows.
Productivity Hack #5: Implement a Corporate Wellness Program
Corporate wellness programs that take a holistic approach to employee well-being can boost workplace culture and organizational engagement.
Studies show that when employees are happier, they work harder and are better positioned to reach their goals. Additionally, happy employees also achieve those results without working more hours.
Studies like these are excellent illustrations that highlight the need for robust and flexible corporate wellness programs at work. When employees have access to valuable resources, education, and wellness coaching, they are bound to be happier, healthier, and more productive members of the workforce.
Related Reading: How Burnout Affects Women
Additional Tips to Foster Productivity and Well-Being Simultaneously
In addition to these specific examples for boosting productivity while mitigating burnout, here are a few additional tips that employers can apply to their organization as a whole, whether by policy, practice, or both.
Productivity Tip #1: Put Employee Well-Being First
Leading with empathy and understanding is the first and most important step to developing a culture that supports employee well-being.
Actively listening, giving employees access to personal and professional development opportunities, and meeting their unique needs are all excellent starting points for building a healthy culture and putting well-being first.
Productivity Tip #2: Encourage Time Off
To effectively manage stress levels, employees need time to rest and recharge. That way, they’re able to recalibrate and return to pre-stress levels that are conducive to productivity.
Jessica De Bloom, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Tampere in Finland, has conducted multiple studies that reveal the benefits of vacation time, including its power to restore creativity in employees. If instituting a four-day work week isn’t feasible, encouraging employees to make use of their vacation time, sick time, PTO, and mental health days are effective ways to stave off stress and increase engagement.
Productivity Tip #3: Reduce Micromanaging
Micromanagement can have severe and long-lasting effects on employee well-being and often leads to insecurity and disengagement.
Harvard Business School outlines five ways employers can effectively train managers and reduce micromanaging to create a healthier and more cohesive workplace culture:
- Practice delegating
- Set clear expectations
- Let go of perfectionism
- Hire qualified candidates with the right skill set
- Ask employees how they prefer to be managed
Productivity Tip #4: Offer Quality Training and Development Opportunities
81% of remote employees say they consider work-related training important, while 61% say they require more training to do their jobs effectively, according to a study from TalentLMS.
Moreover, most employees also prioritize relational factors that foster trust, empathy, and camaraderie between them and their employers. Offering quality training, development, and other opportunities that empower employees can help reduce attrition and strengthen employee-employer relationships.
Productivity is a byproduct of a healthy culture that takes employee well-being seriously. To set employees up for success and reach business goals, consider an employee wellness program that covers all the bases for your unique organization.
Find out how WellRight can help today.