Employee Wellbeing Resources, March 2023 – Balancing Productivity & Wellbeing

Recently, working hours have been in the spotlight following the conclusion of a University of Cambridge study into a four-day working week with no drop in salary.

The key findings from the report, released last month, showed:

  • Of the 61 companies that participated, 56 are continuing with the four-day week (92%), with 18 confirming the policy is a permanent change
  • ‘Before and after’ data shows that 39% of employees were less stressed, and 71% had reduced levels of burnout at the end of the trial
  • Likewise, levels of anxiety, fatigue and sleep issues decreased, while mental and physical health both improved
  • Employees also found it easier to balance their work with both family and social commitments – for 54%, it was easier to balance work with household jobs

Since the pandemic there has seemed to be an increased focus on employee wellbeing. Home working has been a mixed experience, with many reporting an increase in productivity but on the other hand, an increase in loneliness and isolation. In any case, wellbeing is now higher up on the priority list for a lot of employees, with HR News reporting that “85.8% of employees would be more likely to leave a job if there was no obvious support for employee wellbeing”.

Below are some articles and resources for balancing productivity and wellbeing for employees.

Establishing a work-life balance

Work-life balance means prioritizing both your personal life and work life. It might not always be a perfect balance, but there’s enough of a balance to have an improved quality of life.”

This Forbes article details some basic strategies for establishing a work-life balance, from building a routine, setting boundaries, to taking regular breaks. Read more

Optimising your WFH space and routine

Many people do continue to work from home, either in hybrid or completely remote roles. If you have a dedicated office space at home, have a small desk in a corner of your living room or work in a café or coworking space, here are some pointers to help with a productive day:

  • Start with a “commute” – even a very short walk around the block in the morning means you get a little exercise and fresh air before work.
  • Time-blocking – this describes a set period of time to get on with your to-do list with no distractions
  • Set up your workspace – make sure you have everything you need for the day close to hand, your screen, keyboard and mouse setup is comfortable, and your chair is supportive. This should all save you both time and your posture!

Read more here about optimising your home setup.

What to do if you’re not feeling productive

Productivity is a topic which is ripe for paranoia because all we see is what other people outwardly produce, but not how hard they’re working behind the scenes to produce it,” she explains. And indeed, because it’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, if we feel like we’re not up to scratch it can deeply impact our self-worth.”

This article from Stylist details “productivity paranoia” which boils down to the act of comparing our productivity to others and worrying about managers’ perception of our productivity.

So, how do you fix it? It may be as simple as cutting yourself a bit of slack. Overwork and no breaks will lead to more stress and will put your mental health at risk. Speak to your manager and get clarity on the key outputs and KPIs that are expected of you if you feel like you’re struggling. This article from Forbes provides more advice on defining what productivity means for you, understanding the difference between “productive” and “busy” (i.e. ad hoc tasks and meetings that, in all honesty, could have been an email) and tracking and celebrating progress.