Why is productivity so disappointing in all sorts of companies despite new technologies? Why is there so little engagement at work? Why do people feel so miserable, even actively disengaged? Those are the questions asked by Yves Morieux in a Ted Talk devoted to the new complexity of work – and how to manage it successfully. This new complexity often triggers an increase in workload for employees. The “doing more with less” kind of motto results in more pressure and more stress. It’s high time companies changed their approach of productivity and how to boost it.
Workload: the very first source of stress at work
Workload is the main source of stress at work, according to a survey conducted in North America in 2016 (source: Statista). More than one out of three employees consider workload as their first source of stress. People issues are the second most cited source of stress with 31% of respondents experiencing it as their main stress factor. Work-life balance comes third with one out of five employees seeing it as their main source of stress, while job security is the main concern of less than one in ten respondents.
Stress is becoming the public enemy in companies since it is now common knowledge that it increases the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases, generates high turnover, degrades the company reputation, sometimes leads to burnout or depression and overall lets productivity go down and costs go up. Yet, the frenetic pace of technology, the watchwords “adaptability” and “agility” and various types of pressure surrounding work result in increasing stress. Indeed, the new complexity of work makes it more difficult for companies to deal with everyday business. Guess who the victims are? Employees. Incentives, peer pressure, KPIs, metrics, reporting – you name it. The way companies tackle the new issues is often detrimental to their employees’ mindsets towards work – and, on the long term, to their mental health.
Since stress is often due to workload according to the above survey, how can companies help employees manage more successfully their workload? You need to change your vision of management, Yves Morieux says.
The key to smart simplicity: cooperate!
The basic pillars of management are the hard — structure, processes, systems and the soft — feelings, sentiments, interpersonal relationships, traits, personality. The problem is that these pillars are obsolete. The hard pillar of management is inhuman and oppressive, since it lets you consider your employees as a sum of figures and gives them the impression that nothing else than their contribution to KPIs matters to you – that they are not considered as human beings, basically. You don’t motivate your team by adding layers to your organisation and constraints based on figures. The soft pillar is hard to act on and turns out to be useless. You can’t make feelings happen (“Come on, team, like one another!”).
The only solution to deal successfully with the new complexity of business relies on one word: cooperation. “Whenever people cooperate, they use less resources”, Yves Morieux explains.
“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off”. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Now what? Tips for managers
Dissatisfaction at work is often caused by a combination of high job demands and a perception of loss of control. This perception might be due to deadlines or too little self-determination in terms of work processes.
Workshops/one on one meetings on prioritisation and time management
In order to reduce this feeling of excessive demand companies can initiate workshops or one on one meetings concerning the topic prioritisation at work, teaching employees how to prioritise tasks and get back in control.
Sharing expertise among colleagues
Moreover, team support should be discussed so that employees can ask the colleagues with the fitting expertise for help.
Team meetings discussing task distribution
Last word, Mr Morieux?
“Complicatedness: This is your battle, business leaders. The real battle is not against competitors. This is rubbish, very abstract. When do we meet competitors to fight them? The real battle is against ourselves, against our bureaucracy, our complicatedness.”