Encouraging individuals to ‘give it 100%’ is a well-worn cliché. But is it actually the best way to optimize personal performance?

Those advocating the 85:15 rule – working at 85% capacity and keeping 15% for yourself – would beg to differ.

The 85:15 rule is thought to have stemmed from a technique used by Olympian Carl Lewis and his coach, who argued that athletes who were keeping 15% ‘in the tank’ rather than giving it the full 100% the whole time were much better at keeping pace for the duration of a race. And, considering Lewis won nine Olympic gold medals and one silver, he might have been onto something.

As an HR professional, part of my role is aiding an employer in optimizing their people power, but sometimes the thing that may help employees function at their best is by knowing at what point someone is optimized enough.

When we break it down, an employee working at their optimum does not automatically mean they are working at 100%. In fact, unknowingly, it usually means they are functioning at around the 85% mark. This is what all employers should be striving for with their teams, as this promotes a sense of consistency in the quality of work being produced that is realistic, reduces risk of burnout, and helps employees find more balance between work and life.

This idea of ‘giving everything you’ve got’ to your job is a somewhat outdated one, and has been carried over from previous generations of workers who were working in an ‘always-on’ culture. This ‘always-on’ ideology continues to loom in the face of remote and hybrid work blurring the lines between home life and work life, and so it is important for employers to be taking note of strategies such as the 85:15 rule to help prevent employees from being overworked.

What is very important to remember with this rule is that it isn’t saying ‘don’t try’, it’s saying ‘don’t burnout trying’! Keeping that 15% energy reserve helps prevent employees getting home from work and being too exhausted to do anything – even something as basic as making a meal. And when this is paired with the fact that many people have responsibilities outside of the workplace – caring for children, caring for elderly relatives – it only increases the importance of acknowledging this way of working.

This mindset also lends towards the encouragement of better brain health at work, and reminds employees how important it is to nourish and rest their brains in order to allow it to function to the best of its abilities.

With burnout from workplace stress at an all time high (over 40% across US and UK said that they were burnt out), leaders who are practicing this mindset and actively instilling it in their workplaces are normalizing the idea that it is okay to keep some energy for yourself, your brain, and your bodily health.

If you would like to discuss how we can coach the 85:15 rule in your workplace, please get in touch with me at stephanie.rodriguez@orgshakers.com 

The Healthier Nation Index report has recently been published, revealing some startling statistics about sleeping patterns.

People are now getting less than 6 hours a night of sleep – which is a sizeable difference to the 7-9 hours of sleep recommended by the UK’s National Health Service. This drop seems to be due to the fact that 45% of respondents reported they had got less sleep over the past 12-months than in previous years – and nearly half (49%) said that their sleep quality had also worsened.

These same respondents reported that their lack of sleep was having knock-on effects of feeling depressed, an increased likelihood of becoming unwell, struggling to eat healthily, failing to exercise, and low productivity levels.

The latter is because sleep loss can make it challenging to maintain focus, attention and vigilance. This happens due to the increase of ‘microsleeps’ (brief episodes of non-responsiveness that cause lapses in attention) someone will have during their day to compensate for sleep deprivation.

For employers, these findings are particularly worrying. Having sleep-deprived employees can lead to a decrease in productivity and engagement, an increase in absences – or both.

In the spirit of Sleeptember, here’s some advice on how employers can play their part in enhancing sleep quality amongst their workforce:

  • Build sleep into wider wellbeing strategies – review current wellbeing strategies and pinpoint where initiatives that aim to improve sleep can be woven in. These will tend to compliment other areas of wellbeing, such as nutrition, brain health, and exercise. Offering line managers training around recognising the signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation is also key to ensuring that the right people are actually taking these strategies into account in their daily lives, as some may not be aware that they are having difficulties in the first place.
  • Signpost to the right support – managers that can identify those in need of support with their sleeping patterns will then need to know the best course of action to help. Having general lifestyle strategies is a great first step, and these can be implemented in innovative ways (for example, life insurance broker YuLife have gamified their experience to keep employees active physically and mentally), but sometimes there may be something deeper underlying at the root cause of sleep deprivation. Ensuring that they know the right channels to filter them through – whether that be internal (Employee Assistance Programs) or external (counselling, insomnia therapy), having the knowledge around this topic is the key to combatting it.
  • Follow the leader – an experiment conducted a few years ago discovered that those who were sleep deprived were considered 13% less charismatic as leaders. This was linked to the fact that when we get enough sleep, we’re likely to feel positive and this positive energy gets transmitted to the people around us. So, to have the organization’s leaders promoting good sleep is one thing, but ensuring they do it themselves is equally as important.

There are also some more experimental strategies that employers can consider; one which is increasingly gaining popularity is the idea of encouraging naps during the workday (which you can read about in more depth here). But the key takeaway from this is that, as a company is only as strong as its people, good sleep plays a vital role in the overall performance of the business.

If you would like to discuss how we can help train and support leadership around the implementation of sleep strategies, please get in touch with us!

It is probably well known by now that happy employees are more productive – in fact, according to research from Oxford University, those employees that are happier are around 13% more productive.

But ‘happiness’ is one of those elusive terms, in the sense that it can relate to a lot of different factors. For employers to figure out how they can contribute to creating happier, and in turn more productive, teams they need to consider what the ingredients for a happy employee might be.

So, what could employers be throwing into the mix to produce a happy employee?

  • Aligning values – nowadays, employees want their values to align with their employers. One study found that 56% of workers won’t even consider a workplace that doesn’t share their values, and this suggests that a key aspect to an employee being happy at their place of work is feeling like they are amongst likeminded people. This highlights the importance of companies having clear mission statements, values, and goals that are openly shared during the recruitment and onboarding process, to demonstrate what the company is passionate about and, as a result, attract the most suitable talent.
  • A sense of purpose – purpose is a driving force for feeling happy. Not only does a sense of purpose tend to foster positive emotions, it also leads to employees feeling like their work is more meaningful and so they are more productive as a result. Leaders should lead with a sense of purpose, and continually be reminding staff what it is that their role does to contribute to the bigger picture. This can help foster this sense of purpose and value, as it is outlining exactly how their role makes a difference to the organization and the world beyond it.
  • Recognition – recognition is a great way of reminding staff how much they are valued for what they do and give to a company. While having formal recognition programs and procedures in place is a great thing, recognition can also be as simple as saying ‘thank you’ and showing appreciation in real time. This can make all the difference to someone’s mood, and promote a positive affirmation culture amongst teams as well.
  • Intersectional inclusion – in addition to recognition for one’s efforts, it is so important for employers to be able to recognise the intersectionality of different employees. Ensuring that a culture of inclusion and belonging are created in the workplace will mean that each individual feels that they can bring their entire self to work every day, and will be appreciated for their differences and understood on a deeper, individual level. Those that feel seen at work are much more likely to be happy where they work and retained in the future.
  • Human touch – while I appreciate the value of clear policies, so that everyone has the clarity they need around the way things work in an organization, some of the most moving stories I’ve heard in my career have been when companies know when to apply that human touch in unforeseen circumstances. For example, being flexible about bereavement policies and offering an employee the time they need rather than a strict numerical amount. This generates significant loyalty amongst staff, improving their happiness for where they work, and subsequently their retention likelihood.

There is no one size fits all approach to making every employee happy, but there are a range of different ingredients that should be consistently leveraged to ensure the best results. Once an employer is able to perfect this recipe for happiness and contentment in their workplace, they will see sharp increases in productivity, loyalty, trust, and retention.

If you would like to discuss how OrgShakers can help you embed these ‘happiness strategies’ into your workplace, please get in touch with me at anya@orgshakers.com  

One of HR’s key functions for employers is implementing strategies to optimize productivity in the workplace.

By now, most employers will know the basics on how to go about this – but there are a growing number of innovative productivity strategies that organizations may not have considered before. They may sound counter-intuitive, but hear us out!

1. Napping on the job

Yes, you heard that right. Napping at work can be a great way of boosting productivity. Humans were originally biphasic (we slept twice a day) but now we have become monophasic (we sleep once a day), but biologically our bodies have a dip in the middle of the day where body temperature decreases, and cognitive processes are not as strong. Having a nap during this time can help improve one’s mood, engagement levels and productivity!

2. Microbreaks

Having been proven to improve engagement and productivity levels, microbreaks are when an employee takes a five-minute break between tasks and actively takes a moment for themselves. Normalizing this idea and encouraging employees to do this can have a noticeable effect on their productivity levels, as their brains are being suitably rested to keep them working at their optimum.

3. Listening to music…

The link between music and productivity continues to be investigated, but one thing that psychologists have confirmed is that music that someone likes can cause the brain to produce dopamine. This stimulates the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for planning, organizing, inhibition control, and attention. Therefore, a lot of people find that they are better able to focus and be more productive when listening to the right music (this being music that they enjoy on an individual level, so hand out some headphones!).

4. …or playing music!

What is an even more interesting way of boosting productivity is encouraging staff to actually play instruments. Neuroscientists have discovered that when a person plays an instrument, multiple areas of the brain light up and are simultaneously processing different information in intricate, interrelated, and fast sequences. This way of thinking can be translated into other areas, meaning that the individual will be able to engage more of their brain when working.

5. Pets at work

Studies have shown that when people interacted with dogs, their ability to think, plan, and concentrate was enhanced. And even more interesting to note was that this effect lasted up to six-weeks after contact. This is why many employers are now considering pet-friendly policies as a means of attracting talent and boosting productivity levels.

Crafting a working environment in creative and innovative ways can reap unexpected benefits. Even though taking your dog to work or taking a nap in the middle of day sounds like a productivity nightmare, these things – when done properly – can actually make all the difference to a team’s productivity levels. If you would like to discuss how we can help you find the best productivity strategies for your organization, please get in touch with us!

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