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stressful work

Do you often feel like you’ve got too much on your plate?

Maybe that list of “things to do today” waiting on your desk feels like it’s about a mile long. To make matters worse, on the way into the office you thought of several things you need to add to it. With a daily calendar that’s booked solid and a mandatory networking event as soon as office hours end, the likelihood that you’ll get around to even glancing at that list is pretty slim. From where you’re standing, to say “there aren’t enough hours in the work week” sounds like an understatement.
If this stressful narrative sounds familiar, you’re not alone and it’s likely that many of your employees are feeling the same way. When surveyed, 80% of workers claimed to feel stress on the job and nearly half said they need help in learning how to manage it. When fueled by the personal desire to do well and propelled forward by workplace pressures to continually go above and beyond, taking on too much work can happen to anyone easily, and often.

For most people, a huge amount of our time is spent at work, which means our jobs and careers have a great impact on how our day-to-day lives are structured. In order to maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle, it’s integral that our well-being is prioritized when shaping workplace practices.

However, it can often go unnoticed by management when employees are overburdened at the office or in need of support. This is why it’s up to each individual to maintain a healthy and appropriate workload - not just for the sake of productivity but for overall well-being.

This being said, an organization is only as successful as it’s employees, and this starts with helping individuals understand how to take control of their own needs and behaviors. It can be quite challenging to recognize when bad behaviors become pesky habits. But the good news: these behaviors are entirely reversible. The first step: to help employees to identify them. We’ve outlined some tell-tale signs that bad work habits are working against employees, and we’ve offered up some advice for how to help work towards eradicating them:

computer and phone

1. Work-life balance doesn’t exist for them.

Focusing too much time and energy on a job is one of the most common work-related habits that can have negative personal and professional outcomes. In fact, working too much even leads to increased chances of occupational injury and illness.

Though it can sometimes be necessary (or mandatory) to put in extra time to reach objectives, setting boundaries can help ensure that employees are giving themselves enough time to focus on personal needs as well as professional obligations. A good work-life balance is the best way to help reduce stress and prevent burnout over the long term, and it’s at the foundation of creating other good habits that promote a healthy relationship with work.


2. Employees seem disconnected from their colleagues.

Independent work has many benefits, but taking on more than you can handle on your own has just as many drawbacks. In fact, a study of 51,895 employees showed that greater work effort is often associated with reduced well-being. Often, taking on too big of a workload is a sign that someone is not in sync with their colleagues or managers.

Whether someone has consciously withdrawn from colleagues or they’re unable to find the time to team up, helping your team to find ways to reconnect can help promote creativity, problem solve and improve team dynamics. Try encouraging collaborative work efforts among peers, and get involved by offering your support to begin building more of a team-focused mindset.

Man eating and working at the same time

3. They are constantly fatigued.

Physical health is important for maintaining good working habits. Operating on three hours of sleep isn’t something to be celebrated in the modern workplace, and attitudes need to shift to have better, healthier perspectives on prioritization. A clear and rested mind is much more productive than one clouded with yesterday’s stress and obligations. Encourage your employees to work on being able to recognize when they need rest and relaxation and make the time for it in their schedules in order to work to their full potential rather than cramming days full.


4. They have difficulty concentrating at work.

In a world of full of overstimulation, staying focused is an ongoing challenge for us all. But if you find someone is really struggling to maintain a consistent workflow, it could point to some bigger issues like workplace dissatisfaction or depleted energy levels.

Meet with them to reflect on how they are engaging with your work: do they find it stimulating or challenging enough? If not, it might be time to reassess if the type of work they’re doing is right for them and offer alternatives for growth.

Secondly, encourage your team to take note of your energy levels and keep them in check. What we put into our bodies can have a huge impact on our ability to concentrate, and studies show that dehydration can even impair cognitive performance. Make sure you’re giving your team the environment and sustenance needed to stay on task and get things done including regular break times and the right on-site facilities to stay healthy.


5. They complain about having difficulty relaxing when not at work.

Make it part of your work culture to leave what happens at work at the office. Separating the events and stresses of your business from personal lives is important for personal health and wellbeing. If employees know that your organization believes in this concept, it will help promote behaviors that adhere to it.

Lastly, forgetting (or refusing) to unplug at home is often the culprit of being unable to disconnect from work during downtime - a bad habit everyone needs to kick to the curb. Make it possible for employees to turn off work devices at home, which will help to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life and give them the opportunity to authentically enjoy downtime. After all, everyone needs a chance to recharge their batteries (and not just their smartphone’s)!

About the Authors
Main interests: Equality & diversity, company culture, women in the workplace

Living and working abroad has given Cassondra a unique lens to explore how we navigate international workplaces. In her work with Babbel she continues to expand her understanding and appreciation of best practices for diversity and equality at work, which she shares through her writing for personnel.ly.