Employees in U.S. companies have to work longer hours just to keep up, cites a new report from Staples, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS), released today. But with the extra time comes an increased risk for burnout. Read on to discover how to fight burnout and keep employees motivated.
The second annual Workplace Index, conducted by Staples Business Advantage, examines how employees have increasingly developed a love-hate relationship with the office — with the majority working more than 40 hours a week.
According to the Index, 70 percent of U.S. office workers and managers report working more than 40 hours a week, mainly to catch up on work they can’t accomplish in an eight-hour workday. As a result, they also report increased stress, lower morale (leading them to look for another job) and the need to take stress-related leaves of absence as indicators of burnout.
Fight Burnout and Keep Employees Motivated
Employers Find Solutions to Employee Burnout
To address the issue of burnout and how to keep employees motivated, employers have cobbled together a variety of solutions, says the report. These include wellness programs, well-stocked, clean break rooms, state-of-the-art technology and offices designed to keep workers motivated and inspired.
Of the solutions, perks that improve health and fitness top the list, according to survey respondents. That includes the wellness programs and breakrooms, mentioned above. More social environments and breaking down productivity barriers also factor highly.
“Based on the results [of the Index], it is evident that employees thrive in a workplace that is sensitive to their needs and well-being,” says Neil Ringel, executive vice president, Staples Business Advantage, North America. “An office outfitted with thoughtful workplace solutions boosts employee productivity and happiness and directly impact the bottom line.”
How Small Businesses Can Keep Employees Motivated
Staple’s created this year’s study in conjunction with Jacob Morgan, best-selling author of The Future of Work and co-founder of the Future of Work Community, a brand council consisting of forward-thinking organizations that meet regularly to discuss workplace issues.
Small Business Trends contacted Morgan before today’s release to talk about how small businesses can keep employees motivated. He replied with the following advice in an email exchange.
“The first thing to realize I always tell organizations is ‘stop trying to be Google,” Morgan says. “Often, what is more valuable than a perk is a progressive way of working. For example, it doesn’t cost much to get rid of annual employee reviews, create a flexible work environment and an internal innovation incubator program. This is far more valuable than having a masseuse on-site. Budget is not an excuse for not focusing on employee experience.”
Morgan cites three companies — Nearsoft, Centro and BlueShore Financial — as having been recognized as best places to work. Yet most people have never heard of them, he says, even though the three companies have several hundred employees each.
He adds that, in addition to creating a more employee-centric workplace environment, small businesses can help keep employees motivated by:
- Breaking needs down by culture, technology and physical space;
- Asking employees what they care about most in each of these areas and letting them vote;
- Reviewing the employee ideas and seeing which ones are scalable and practical and which ones are not. “Be transparent with employees and let them know what is possible and what isn’t and why,” Morgan said.
Address Workplace Distractions to Keep Employees Motivated
The Index lists workplace distractions as another factor impacting productivity, with respondents citing “loud co-workers, people coming to talk and email overload” as the chief culprits.
In response, Morgan says that, although distractions are unavoidable and a part of life, companies can take some proactive steps, which include:
- Creating multiple floor plans at work so employees can select the environment they want to work in;
- Providing space, such as a small pod or quiet area where employees can focus;
- Enabling flexible work options so that employees can work from home or a co-working spot;
- Coming up with creative ways for employees to communicate non-verbally when they need focus time. “I’ve seen employees put little flags on their desks, use stickers or even lights to help signify they are in a certain ‘mode’ of working,” Morgan said.
Office Design Can Improve Productivity and Keep Employees Motivated
The way an office is designed directly affects workplace productivity, states the Index.
“There’s still work to be done when it comes to office design, as the majority of survey respondents describe their office as standard, plain and dull — even if they are in an open or hybrid environment,” the Index says. “Respondents are looking for natural light, private spaces, standing desks, lounge areas and ergonomic and flexible furniture for multiple uses.”
Remarking about productivity and the role office design plays, Morgan says, “Sometimes this isn’t an office design problem, so the first step is to figure if office design is indeed the solution. If it is, then I’d only focus on understanding how and why employees work and design the office to accommodate the multiple options employees need.”
He advises employers to think of the office as a house.
“Each room serves a specific purpose and each space in your office also needs to serve a specific purpose,” he says.
Visit the Staples Business Advantage website, to learn more about the workplace index, download a fact sheet fact sheet and visit its resource hub, to get advice on achieving better work-life balance.
Staples Business Advantage is the contract division of Staples Inc. and provides office products, technology products, facilities supplies and breakroom supplies to businesses and institutions.