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The Importance of Recovering After a Work Day to Make Employees Happy

The Importance of Recovering After a Work Day to Make Employees Happy

Encouraging recovery can make employees happy, create a more productive work environment and ultimately improve staff retention

Want to make your employees happy? Well then it’s important to take two minutes to read this article.. In the last decade the term ‘work-life’ balance has become very popular especially for those talking about ensuring happy employees in the workplace. Everyone strives towards it, are told how important it is, and does their best  to figure out what mechanisms work. There is no one-size-fits-all for all employees though. Calling it work-life balance appears paradoxical, almost like two opposing poles; work is life and life is work. Perhaps it’s about balancing life with its various domains. The term ‘work-life balance’ per se has no standard definition and means different things to different people. So, how do we begin to engage with work-life balance with so many unknown variables?

 

An aspect of work-life balance that I’ll write about, as it’s frequently overlooked or ignored, is the concept of recovery during and after work. Often, we associate recovery as the process of getting healthy after an illness, and link it to the opposite of fatigue or burnout. But we seldom view recovery as a much-needed process during a working day as well as part of recuperating from a full day’s work. Professor Stevan E. Hobfoll, from the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Rush University Medical Center in America defines recovery as the replenishment of mental and physiological resources used for the external demands placed on us.

In a work environment we experience two types of fatigue:

  • Physical fatigue – is associated with hard labour and muscular aches where appropriate rest time during the day is often adequate to rejuvenate the body.
  • Mental fatigue – is linked to cognitive thinking, planning, problem solving and attending meetings. A short rest period, as would be adequate in physical fatigue, is not enough here.

And that is where the challenge begins. We need longer and more frequent breaks in the mental fatigue mode to uphold our stamina and energy, but seldom take the necessary breaks.

Short breaks can lead to more motivated employees a more productive team and a happy workplace.

Furthermore, we are able to distinguish between internal and external recovery. Internal recovery refers to the short, scheduled breaks we take between work tasks to shift our attention or even purposefully distract us. We recognise that our mental stamina is temporarily depleted and we shift tasks, take short breaks, chat with colleagues or engage in a completely different mental activity. The short breaks delay our fatigue but are not enough to recover from the day’s mental fatigue. External recovery provides us with that much-needed rest and restoration time between working days, weekends, pubic holidays and holiday time. Working after hours cancels out our entire recovery time, and we go to work the next day, maybe with a reduced work load and fewer emails in our inbox, but with lower energy, and reduced performance and productivity levels.

Healthy Employees are Happy Employees

From a health point of view, getting enough rest and recovery time reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, sleep problems, fatigue and burnout. That being said, activities that positively influence and assist with the recovery process are sports and physical activities, connecting with friends, performing household activities and caring for your children. The sports and physical activities are shown to have the most significant effect, which is understandable because of the additional adrenalin and happy hormones that we feel afterwards. But there is more to why sports and physical activities win first prize, and that is because our brain can’t engage in the activity and simultaneously ruminate over a work situation. It’s one or the other which is fantastic for our brain to be able to get some forced downtime.

Allowing your employees to get into a rhythm will improve team motivation and employee happiness.

The final thing that I want to write about is the relevance of our circadian rhythm, our biological body clock. By nature some of us are early morning risers, while others are night owls and peak later during the day. Working with our biological energy system influences our entire human system from our hormones, body temperature, and sleep patterns, to our insulin and glucose cycle and moods and emotions. In short, it determines when we are physically and psychologically at our best. Unfortunately, working life doesn’t always allow us to work predominantly from our best performance state, and we often have to demonstrate peak performance when our body isn’t in that mode. We’ll need extra energy to think harder, stay alert, pay attention to detail and remain connected with people, with the end result that in the evening our energy is more depleted than normal. Our brains have used up all the energy possible, and we need to engage in additional recovery, rest and restoration time to return to a homeostatic balanced mode. Recommended techniques are for you to engage in down-time practises such as yoga, meditation or reading, and refraining from any stimulating activities.

By now you may have noticed that your recovery processes during the day and after work are actually ongoing. They require your continuous conscious and self-regulated attention. The downside to not recovering enough is that ruminating thoughts, negative emotions, disturbed attention span, fatigue and distorted sleep creep into our lives. Our health and overall well-being levels drop severely. I hope that with this article you are inspired to review and amend, where necessary, your recovery process between work days.

Want to read more about how to make employees happy and motivated? Click Here to find out about 5 Ways to Motivate Employees

References

Hobfoll, S. E. (1989). Conservation of resources: A new attempt at conceptualising stress. American Psychologist, Vol. 44, 513-524.

Zijlstra, F. R., & Sonnentag, S. (2006). After work is done: Psychological perspectives on recovery from work . European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 15(2), 129-138.

Zijlstra, F. R., Cropley, M., & Rydstedt, F. R. (2014). From Recovery to Regulation. An attempt to reconceptualise ‘recovery from work.

How to Create Job Satisfaction and Retain Your Best Talent

How to Create Job Satisfaction and Retain Your Best Talent

Finding the right person for the job, training them up to standard and then watching them walk out the door is the reality of any industry. However, there are strategies which can be used to help retain skilled talent and reduce the burden of high turnover and recruitment.  The truth is while the times have changed, so have people’s perceptions of what a ‘good job’ looks like. People are no longer bound by company loyalty and if they do not have job satisfaction (an overall positive experience at work) they are highly likely to look elsewhere.

If you are in a position of management then this is no small concern. Research shows that three quarters of people who leave their jobs state reasons for leaving are directly related to management. Research by Gallup estimates the cost of turnover to be anywhere between one half and 5 times that employee’s annual salary, and that is per employee!

It is thus vitally important that managers become aware of the needs of their employees and learn the staff retention strategies necessary to keep and build a skilled and committed workforce.

 The Relationship between Engagement, Job Satisfaction and Turnover

It is widely understood that employee engagement is a fundamentally important part of job satisfaction as it results in a sense of fulfilment and enthusiasm for one’s work which brings people’s passion and best performance forward. In fact, it has been found that employee engagement accounts for 96% of the organisational satisfaction and turnover relationship.

When we are perceived as a valuable asset to the company, are personally recognised for our contributions and experience opportunities for growth and development we are more committed to the job and the company strategy. In fact, people perceive a lack of development and career advancement to be the most important reason for leaving their job. And this may be the key to retaining skilled staff, as 92% of people are more likely to stay in company if they believe their development is considered and integrated by their managers.

So why do people leave?

People seek certain basic needs to be met before they feel a sense of job satisfaction. The fundamental needs required for employees to feel engaged, valuable and productive are listed below:

  • They need to know what is expected from them at work
  • They need to have the resources and materials required to perform the job
  • They need to be individually and consistently recognised for their specific task performance
  • They require good co-worker connections where there is equity of accountability across the board
  • They need to see a future in their work, one that is recognised and supported by the organisation

These fundamental needs enable employees to experience job satisfaction at work and in turn reduce any chances of intention to quit.

Management Strategies for Staff Retention

Managers are the mediators between the task and individual however many are not aware of the vital role they play in ensuring employee engagement and satisfaction and in turn their direct impact on staff retention and turn over. Below are a few strategies that can help you to keep and build your skilled workforce:

  • Have regular progress discussions

People want to know they have a future in their work and that the company they commit to is committed to developing them. Having regular progress discussions allows you to recognise these desired areas of development and helps facilitate integration of these goals into task allocation and adjustments. These discussions should be separate from the yearly performance reviews and can also help to improve attitudes towards the review process.

 

  • Strengths focus and good Interest-Job Fit

While the work doesn’t necessarily change having an awareness of your team members individual strengths can help to not only increase engagement and fulfilment in tasks but can help to ensure a good interest-job fit. This is fundamental part of an employee’s experience of job satisfaction and fine-tuning tasks to meet the strengths of you team members will result in greater co-worker connections and overall performance.

 It’s not about money- it’s about value

Despite popular belief, financial incentives and pay are not an effective strategy for retaining staff. In fact less than 22% of people site this as their reason for leaving. People want to be recognised for the value they bring. This is done through regular feedback and recognition, that is personal and specific to their unique work task and performance.

  • 360 Degree Feedback

This can be bold step for many managers as it involves receiving feedback from all levels (subordinates, peers and higher management). This process of communication allows those around you to provide feedback and in doing so allows you to see your situation without biases. It can also increase trust in your employees as they feel there is a two-way street, creating a mutual connection through feedback and learning. This method of feedback can also be used within your team and can help to increase connections and performance.

In Closing

Employee retention is an ongoing concern in any industry and the cost on the company is the high. Managers, being the mediators, have a big role to play in ensuring staff experience engagement at work and in turn have overall positive experiences in the workplace. When people are satisfied and feel a company is interested in their success, they become committed.  To the task, to their co-workers and the company as a whole. The staff retention strategies mentioned above are intended to reduce employee turnover however they are also clear steps for managers to take in creating more positive workplace environments.