The workplace is changing, with more forward thinking companies realising that getting the best out of their employees, means providing balance and support. This wasn’t always the case – traditionally, having good financial performance was the only indicator to a successful business (1). However, we now see that happiness and good results in the workplace go hand I hand, with Oswold et al (2014) finding that happiness made individuals on average 12% more productive in their tasks. (2)
There are a number of factors which create a ‘happy worker’, a key one being a healthy work life balance. Many companies are tackling this through different offerings. Amongst other companies, Nike and Cadburys both have summer-work hours which means employees can leave in the early afternoon on Fridays. AirBnB provides $2,000 for them to travel wherever they like. Sweaty Betty encourages employees to go to exercise classes everyday and Google have bowling alleys and gyms in their offices. Other companies have more unusual perks, such as Johnson & Johnson who has a concierge service that will do your chores for you. Lastly, Dropbox has a music studio where employees are encouraged to collaborate on music projects.
But do these perks actually help stress levels on a day to day basis? I believe this is only half the battle. It is also a culture and attitude change that has to happen. It’s not just the companies offering the services, but the employees feeling like they are able to take them. It is difficult, in the middle of a project, or when you have a team relying on you, to think about your needs. You just want to get that work done. However, this internal pressure can build up quickly and leave work feeling like a place to dread, with everyone constantly expecting things from you. However, this is actually really important - The responsibility to look after yourself and know when you need to a break, or to get out the office has to come from yourself. In the long terms, knowing your limits will make you a more valuable and reliable employee who is more likely to actually enjoy your job.
There are many things you can do to help yourself:
1. Talk to your boss – however scary that sounds, they need to know when you have to much work on.
2. Do not check your emails before you go to bed – this has shown to create added to stress and there is nothing you can usually do til the morning anyway.
3. Get out the office for even 5 minutes. When you feel you have so much on your plate, you just can’t breath – Go for a 5 minutes walk and get some fresh air. Just giving yourself some time to calm down can really help to de-stress you, making you better able to tackle the task at hand.
As well as the actual effects of taking control and managing your time better, the act of taking control in itself, has been shown to improve wellbeing and buffer against stressors (3)
Written by Katie Zimmerman
Katie works for EY and has continually taken an active interest in Organisational psychology and Wellbeing. Katie uses her own experiences and understanding of the workplace to blog for Yoke Consultancy.
(1) Keller S, Price C. Beyond performance: How great organizations build ultimate competitive advantage. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons; 2011
(2) Happiness and Productivity Andrew J. Oswald*, Eugenio Proto**, and Daniel Sgroi**
(3) Daniels, K, Guppy, D. Occupational Stress, Social Support, Job Control, and Psychological Well-Being; 1994