According to a study published by talent management firm Cornerstone OnDemand®, two in three U.S. workers suffer from work overload. Of these, more than half say the amount of time needed to complete their daily work exceeds the number of hours in a day. Here in Canada, employees are facing a similar crunch: 58 percent of Canadian workers feel stressed at work every day, according to Benefits Canada.
Those burning the midnight oil in an attempt to maximize output, although well intended, may be doing more harm than good. A Stanford University study on the correlation between hours worked and productivity revealed a sharp drop in output after a 50-hour work week and a “fall off the cliff” decrease after a 55-hour work week. In fact, the study indicates this reduction in productivity is so dramatic that those who put in 70 hours per week gain no additional output for their extra 15 hours. There are ways to relieve the overload without adding extra hours to the day. For several ideas to improve productivity at work—without burning the candle at both ends—keep reading:
- Give the green light on telecommuting: Did you know employees who telecommute tend to be 14 percent more productive than their onsite counterparts? Plus, telecommuters report much higher job satisfaction. If telecommuting is a benefit your organization can offer, ensure its success with a work-from-home toolkit. Include useful promotional products, like a wireless headset, commuter tech kit and USB drive.
- Hit the brakes on multitasking: Multitasking is, in fact, a myth. Only a select few (2 percent of the population) can effectively perform multiple tasks at once. As for the rest of us, we think we’re multitasking but are really just shifting our focus from one activity to another, causing us to decrease productivity by up to 40 percent! Employees can improve productivity at work by focusing on one task at a time. It may help if they turn off mobile phone notifications, put instant message programs on “do not disturb,” silence their phones and close unused browser tabs.
- Take a break: Did you know frequent breaks could actually improve productivity at work? Research shows that one break an hour helps recharge energy and creativity. Encourage employees to stand up and stretch, rehydrate, grab a snack, meditate or even zone out with an adult colouring book. In fact, setting a desk timer or calendar reminder might help them remember to take breaks.
- Set boundaries: A whopping 42 percent of workers say their biggest obstacle to productivity is impromptu visits from coworkers. While it’s important to maintain open lines of communication, you can curb interruptions by setting boundaries. Consider imprinting a “do not disturb” message on door hangers staff can use to communicate “heads down” time. Corded ear plugs are another useful promotional item that sends a subtle message associates don’t want to be disturbed.
It isn’t necessary to add hours to the day to improve productivity at work. Follow these simple productivity boosters to help them make the most of the hours they’ve got. It’s all in a day’s work!