Shrewd Solutions to Massive Mental Fatigue at Work

Massive Mental Fatigue At Work

Are you overwhelmed with busyness and the constant demand to do more with less? It seems you are not alone.  This week I ran a webinar for employees that work in the community care sector and 53% stated that their greatest obstacle to personal vitality was that they did not have enough “me time”.

Later in this article I outline some practical steps we can take to address this, but first let’s consider how this fatigue affects productivity in the workplace.

I recently asked my database “What is the greatest challenge (only one) in creating a thriving and resilient culture in your organisation?”  These were the results:

survey results

What are the implications of mental fatigue?

People who are mentally fatigued are not at their best. This can lead to poor health, less creativity, lower productivity, compromised customer service, and suboptimal team work. The end result is lower profits and shareholder returns.

Perhaps just as worrying, is the belief by those surveyed that their leaders don’t have the will OR the skill to address this fatigue and create a high performing culture.

Research conducted by James Bailey and published in Harvard Business Review, revealed that whilst 79% of the surveyed 127 senior executives (from 18 countries) say they recognize the importance of renewal, only 35% say their firms have programs to encourage such activities.

More surprising is the finding that executives who recognize the value of renewal don’t do much to encourage their own direct reports to follow their example. Only 50% say they encourage renewal activities among their staffs.

Why is this so?

To quote Bailey:

“My interviews with corporate leaders suggest that the reason may have to do with the power of the corporate culture of soldiering on. Executives may worry that colleagues would snicker if they knew about the stamp collection or the daily meditation sessions. These vital activities might be perceived as signs of weakness.

So one of the most important things an organization can do to help executives reduce stress is to disabuse people of the idea that stoicism equals strength. They need to educate managers not only about the dangers of stress but also about the need for activities that reduce it. They should make it clear that the kind of strength the organization needs isn’t the strength of clenched teeth and masked feelings, but the strength that comes from reduced tension – in other words, that there is power in renewal.”

But what if things could be different?

What if we abandoned the (mostly) macho veneer of bravado identified by Bailey, and had some authentic conversations about what is really going on for leaders and their teams?

What if leaders led by example and committed to rituals that boosted their resilience, mood, and performance. In fascinating research conducted by Tony Schwartz in collaboration with HBR, over 19,000 employees around the world were asked if their leaders modelled sustainable work life balance. He found that only 25% believed their leader lived a sustainable life.  Those leaders’ employees were found to be:

  • 55% more engaged,
  • 72% higher in health wellbeing,
  • 77% more satisfied at work, and
  • 15 times more likely to stay at the company.
  • They also reported more than twice the level of trust in their leaders.

What can we do about this?

We all (and particularly leaders)   need to create rituals that build our resilience, mood, and performance. Below are a couple of ideas you can take action on today.

Develop your Leadership Resilience. Sign up for our free 7 Rituals of the Resilient Leader poster and course to learn how to create rituals that build your resilience, mood, and performance.

Webinar: 7 Rituals of the Resilient of the Resilient Leader

Over 4000 leaders have attended this 2-3 hour workshop in the last year from the banking, insurance, professional services, public sector, healthcare, community care, and rehabilitation sectors.

On Tuesday March 29 from 1pm – 2pm Sydney time, I will be running a free seminar that provides an overview of this content. REGISTER FOR FREE

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