Providing employees with a sense of calm
It’s a springboard toward maximizing productivity
Employee productivity is often a hot topic, with business leaders continuously working to discover new ways to advance the bottom line. However, if not implemented correctly, the pressures associated with a desire to increase profits can lead to employees actually becoming less productive due to increased stress and a poor work culture.
The most productive employees are those who have a healthy balance of “downtime” in their days. Convenient thinking dictates that employees work all day, then go home to rest. Not true. Employees have busy lives outside of work and will, ultimately, be more productive if the workday includes small pockets of time when their brains can rest and feel a sense of calm. In our busy society, we all need to “come up for air” many times throughout the day in order to successfully lead a balanced life.
Our brains were not designed to operate at high speed for eight hours straight. Companies and direct supervisors who create a culture of calmness, despite the workload, are assets to all employees. Increased productivity will be the natural result.
Here are some ways you can implement a valuable sense of calm into your work culture:
- Start the day with a friendly tone: Do you greet employees with eye contact and a smile, or do you jump right into discussing what needs to be done? A few seconds spent setting a welcoming tone reduces employee stress and helps to build winning business relationships.
- Prioritize ergonomics: Are your employees physically comfortable? Is your office furniture and positioning conducive to employees being able to work comfortably, without developing low-back pain and overuse injuries? Ergonomics should be a top priority for every employer in order to avoid physical work stress, which leads to mental stress and reduced productivity.
- Break areas: Does your company provide a break room with comfortable furniture or small, quiet areas where employees can sit comfortably to make a quick call or take a mental break? Knowing these areas are available can provide a sense of calm, even when they’re not being used and can keep employees from being eager to leave for the day to find the calm their brains and bodies crave.
- Are employees allowed to take frequent breaks to move around and get something to eat or drink? Instead of viewing these interruptions as negative disruptions to productivity, remember that employees are listening to their stiff muscles, giving their brains a short rest and staying hydrated.
- Begin meetings with a calm and friendly demeanor: What do your words, tone of voice and body language convey when you conduct meetings? The first 30 seconds set a critical tone, which employees will tend to mimic. The tone of meetings are perfect opportunities to develop a winning team spirit to energize employees.
- Be honest and communicate regularly: Business leaders and supervisors who are honest with their employees and share information on a regular basis allow employees to relax and focus on doing their best. Employees who are left wondering what is true and what is going on behind the scenes will automatically feel guarded, increasing stress and reducing productivity.
- Develop winning relationships: Make an effort to get to know your employees. Be their biggest cheerleader. Don’t act superior to them. Employees who describe their direct supervisors as honest, fair and attentive to their needs are calmer and more loyal to the company.
- Be supportive when employees need unexpected time off: Great employees don’t want to be absent, so avoid reacting negatively when they need to attend to their own personal needs. Making them feel worse will, over time, increase the chance of them seeking new employment. Use their time of need to be supportive, so they can focus on solving the problems keeping them from being at work.
- Discourage gossiping and model healthy behaviors: Managers often complain about employees who don’t get along with each other, but are you contributing to this problem? Set the tone by promoting teamwork and making it clear that petty behavior will not be tolerated. Set clear and fair consequences for employees who are a detriment to a healthy workplace culture. Acknowledge and celebrate behaviors that contribute to a healthy environment.
- End each day on a positive note, especially during hard days: A simple thank you goes a long way to show employees they are appreciated. Employees crave regular recognition for their hard work. Kind words are priceless and are a critical element of employee satisfaction. Personalize your comments, so every employee knows you’re paying attention and are grateful for their efforts.
When you create a setting for employees that is mentally and physically healthy and safe, you allow them to feel a better sense of calm, which is a natural springboard to maximizing productivity.
Carol Phillips, owner of Manchester-based Health Design, is the author of “52 Simple Ways to Health” and host of “Ask Coach Carol” on WTPL-FM. She can be reached at HealthDesignNH.com.