Thoughts on Workplace Wellbeing
Improving workplace well-being is currently a hot topic, but solutions are often viewed through a lens of social support and emotional resilience.
However workplace stress can often be caused by suboptimal work processes and inferior tools. Could failure to look at this mean we seek solutions to workplace stress that simply should never have arisen?
Here are a few areas worth considering.
Is There a Continuous Improvement Process in Every Team?
Nothing is more stressful than feeling powerless and unsupported. We all want to know that if something is significantly impeding our progress, then our colleagues and managers will help fix it.
This can be as simple as a short team meeting every few weeks to identify the biggest workplace frustration and possible solutions. Frontline managers can refer this up as appropriate. Managers should endeavour to resolve the biggest issues as a priority.
Question and answer platforms like Dory can be used in addition to smaller team meetings. Such apps allow colleagues from across the whole organisation to ask questions and vote for the questions they most want answered. Used wisely it provides everyone with a meaningful voice and a structured approach to bring about change.
Do People have the Necessary Training?
Whilst companies should be proud to have adapted to the sudden and recent changes, how many workers are still struggling to use new technology?
Changes needed to be made so quickly that very little training could be given. Has this left staff feeling out of their depth and overwhelmed?
2020 was a year of rapid change. Should 2021 be a year to assess how effective employees are at using new tools and to devise a long-term strategy to maximise this investment?
Could ensuring employees are appropriately trained create a more confident and happier workforce?
Are People Expected to Juggle too Many Priorities?
The human brain is amazing, but it turns out it’s more productive to do just one thing at a time. In fact multitasking at work usually means quickly switching between tasks.
Due to the added work of switching from one task to another, the brain takes more time and energy. This causes stress as the same work now takes more time and effort than it would normally. Not to mention the increased likelihood of mistakes!
Strictly speaking, to prioritise tasks means to rank them, meaning phrases like “multiple top priorities” are nonsensical.
One of the best solutions to the “everything is a priority” problem is to use a Kanban board. Tasks which appear at the top of the column are more important than those below. This simple tool visualises how adding a new piece of work impacts on other activities. It also encourages people to focus on fewer activities until completion, rather than switching back and forth between tasks which actually takes longer.
Do You Have Capacity Planning?
One of the top causes of workplace stress is unrealistic expectations, leading to unmanageable workloads. Losing staff because they feel stressed, unhappy and demotivated could potentially be avoided if businesses adopt simple capacity planning.
Basic task management apps will allow teams to write down the scheduled work, prioritise it, and assess the time it will take. This should be about as difficult as writing a shopping list with the most important items at the top.
I use Microsoft Planner with the Estimations Plugin for Chrome. Using this app I know I can complete about 20 points of planned work and about 10 points of unexpected ad hoc work. Using these tools, I stay focussed on the most important activities.
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