10:40:36 pm on
Monday 06 Dec 2021

Curse of Laboriousness
RK Samuelson

Source: news.com.au

Many employees fear losing their job because of the pandemic. They fear COVID-19 means they must overwork to avoid redundancy. According to Professor Argyro Avgoustaki, of ESCP Business School, this has a negative effect on wellbeing and may lead to a less productive workforce.

What is well-being.

Well-being is the state of mental, physical and general health of a worker, woman or man. There are many factors that may negatively affect employee well-being, such as overworking. Managers must be aware of influence the well-being of workers.

“Those that work extensively or intensively,” says Dr Avgoustaki, an Associate Professor of Management at ESCP, “experience negative well-being outcomes such as stress, fatigue, burnout, exhaustion, illness and reduced satisfaction.” Working overtime, for example, reduces the time an employee has e to take rest and recover. Work intensity, such a double or triple shifting, reduces chances for recovery during the working day, which negatively affects well-being.

“Lack of recovery accumulates over time and ultimately decreases an employee ability to perform at adequate levels and deliver quality work,” says Dr Avgoustaki, who is based at ESPC in London. “Tired employees are less alert and more prone to making mistakes,” she says.

Yet, despite the detrimental effects of overworking, people keep doing it. Employees often believe that to work excessively is to have a better chance at career advancement, social recognition or praise and avoid losing their job. In the time of a pandemic this belief may be exaggerated.

To avoid the downside of this belief, managers must lead by example. They should encourage a work environment where excessive work is not the norm, but mostly an exception, used in busy periods. Managers should reward, if not financially then socially, those that can balance work with life outside of work.

Managers oversee tasks and workers. Although tasks can be routinised, employees can not. Thus, many managers struggle to find a balance of tasks and employee needs.

What a good manager does.

A good manager should provide employees with information concerning the company and its performance; organizational and personnel changes, such as promotions, and so forth. Employee input or, at least the semblance of input, is important; workers implement company policies more effectively when they believe their needs are actively considered; when they believe they participate in company policy making. Encouraging self improvement is important, too, as better qualified employees are more productive, on the average.

When a manager takes these and related strategies into consideration, employees may be less inclined to overwork to avoid a sense of redundancy. If employees feel they are a part of a larger team, they have more confidence in themselves and their employer. Again, this leads to greater productivity.

Even a semblance of meaningful participation in work-related decision making can have a profound effect. Various studies, over the years, have shown that meaningful participation is more important than all but the most substantial increases in pay, for example. Job satisfaction is also significantly higher for employees that report they have meaningful participation in work related decisions.

Do what I do, not only what I say makes for good employee management. Managers should show they can balance work and personal life if they expected employees to do the same. Showing, in fact, may be more important for managers than is simply telling employees what to do.

“Managers need to provide some discretion over how and when work should be done as well as creating meaningful work experiences will help employee well-being,” says Dr Avgoustaki. “This way, at times when employees need to work harder, their well-being and, in turn productivity, will be better preserved,” she says.

Discretion to balance work and life.

If employees need to work constantly under pressure then their well-being deteriorates and an unhappy employee is less productive, all the time. Essentially, if we can understand employee well-being, we will also understand how employees can become more productive. Everybody benefits from a productive workforce.

For more information, contact Olivia Nieberg at olivia@bluesky-pr.com or call +44 (0)1582 790 091.

Robert King Samuelson, in his own words, "is a perspiring writer trying to raise his voice above the cackling insolence and fractured language of the bloggery."

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