4 Ways to Break Dysfunctional Work Habits

June 21, 2016

Ambivalent. Conflicted. Contradictory. These all describe the love/hate relationship Americans have with the workplace, as found in our own Workplace Index. But would you go so far as to call it dysfunctional? Recently, The Huffington Post’s Emily Peck took a look at how employees are managing the ever-blurring lines between work and life, and how we’ve blown past burnout and into some truly unhealthy habits.

The article, titled “3 Dysfunctional Ways We’ve Adapted To The Hell Of The 24/7 Workplace,” discusses the work of researchers Erin Reid and Lakshmi Ramarajan and finds that the pressure to be “always available” is actually harming productivity, driving people to quit and costing companies in time and money to replenish talent gaps.

While there are a lot of sources of advice about how managers and even the average employee can begin to destroy these dysfunctional habits, it’s important to consider how the workplace as a whole can contribute.

“Employees thrive in a workplace that is sensitive to their needs and well-being,” says Neil Ringel, Executive Vice President of Staples Business Advantage. “Thoughtful workplace solutions can boost employee productivity and happiness and directly impact the bottom line.”

So how does this thoughtful approach to the holistic workplace address the dysfunctional elements? In a few ways:

Break up the workday – An astounding 79% of workers recognize that taking a break makes them more productive in their workday, but many still feel too guilty to even take a break. Establishing acceptance of stepping away from your desk is about more than lip-service, though; creating and thoughtfully designing and stocking a designated space for employees to relax and re-energize sends a clear message that it’s okay to stop, rest and reset.

Empower and equip employees –70% of workers are clocking more than 40 hours a week, and most say they do so just to complete what can’t get done in an 8-hour day. Workers clearly aren’t well-equipped, and the stats back this up: 3 out of 4 employees say they aren’t provided the tools and technology that would allow them to do their job efficiently and effectively. Prioritizing your company’s IT roadmap to better enable workers can help stave off that burnout and keep people from taking their work home, where they might have their own, more powerful (and less secure) technology available to them.

Invest in wellness – An often-overlooked side effect of the “always on” culture is that it drives more people to come into the office sick (more than half of workers admit to this), spreading illness and putting a big strain on productivity. From encouraging workers to stay home when sick to stocking up on germ fighting supplies, investing in wellness sends a clear message to your employees that their well-being and productivity are irrevocably linked. And employee acquisition is linked to wellness, as well—more than 60% of workers say a wellness program is a selling point as they seek new employment opportunities.

Commit to your community – And finally, one of the best ways to help employees create boundaries between work and life is to demonstrate that there’s more to your business than just business. Consider this: 23% of employees are motivated to do their best work when they are doing work that has a positive societal impact, and 73% say they consider a company’s sustainability practices when looking for a new job. Is your office about more than just business?

There are many other things to consider when creating a workplace culture that supports flexibility and balance, but these are a few of the ways your entire office and workplace, from top to bottom, can help influence a more functional and healthy relationship between employees and their jobs.

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