If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times. It’s the era of efficiency for businesses around the world. We even published a study delving into current efficiency trends, and it confirms that 77% of business leaders are prioritizing efficiency. Our Do More With Less series delves into the practical ways actually doing more with less affects employers and employees, and the ways they can thrive despite a challenging economic climate. In this installment, we’re looking at how this era of efficiency is impacting employee morale — and what leaders, managers, and employers can do to combat drooping morale in the workplace. In reality, striving for efficiency can really impact employees’ experience in the workplace. The focus on efficiency means budgets have been cut across the board, discretionary spending has been reined in, and employees are likely feeling the stress of having to produce more with less, every single day. Even if employees are reasonably confident they are safe from layoffs, the office vibe can feel quite different than it did in years past. Employers and business leaders have a vested interest in ensuring that employee morale is as positive as it can be. Employee engagement is one of the keys to employee productivity, as well as a key indicator that turnover will remain low. Therefore it makes sense for executives to keep a close eye on employee morale and make every effort to improve it, especially in the current economic climate that constantly requires asking more of employees. How can employers keep their employees engaged and positive in the era of efficiency — without breaking the bank? We’ve pulled together a host of ideas and examples that can work for in-person or remote teams, and we’ve even created a handy infographic you can send to your manager or HR team as a little hint at what could improve your company morale. Try Wrike for free Efficiency data reveals employee burnout Let’s look more closely at the research around the current situation for businesses and the ways employees are being affected. The era of efficiency means companies are being tasked with increasing productivity while lowering costs. In order to achieve those goals, companies are mainly taking three routes: reducing staff numbers, cutting budgets, and raising prices for their goods and services. Those strategies may alleviate the financial pressure teams are facing, but employees are feeling more pressure than ever. Our Efficiency Report noted that employees are reporting their workloads have increased by 43% in the last year. And business leaders agree, estimating that workloads have increased by 45% in the last year. Our research also showed that over half (56%) of workers have taken on the work of colleagues who have left their organizations. Of the workers whose companies have reduced staff, budgets, or raised prices, 67% of employees are worried about the number of staff members being reduced and 60% are concerned about budget reductions. Those worries have begun to take a toll on employees, with 71% of those surveyed admitting feeling burnout in the last six months. When we released our Dark Matter of Work survey last year, we revealed that 85% of employees surveyed had either experienced or witnessed a colleague experience burnout. And that was before the era of efficiency kicked in, arguably adding to those experiencing burnout. Low-cost ideas to boost morale Boosting employee morale requires more than a quick fix. We’ve probably all heard stories about companies ordering a dozen pizzas for their employees, hoping to stick a band-aid on a larger problem. Imagine an office that’s been hit from all angles through this rocky economic time: a big chunk of employees have been laid off, budgets for team lunches or after-work drinks every quarter have been eliminated, they got rid of the smoothie machine in the break room, and you’re constantly wondering if you’re going to be next in line to clear our your desk. It’s going to take more than a pizza party to get the morale train back on track. In fact, improving employee morale requires an attitude shift from the top down, shown in repeated small ways. It takes time and concerted effort. But the good news is that a company doesn’t necessarily need a big budget to start to turn the tide. Here are four low-cost ways for companies to improve employee morale. Increase leadership engagement: Our 2023 Efficiency Report revealed that not only did many workers feel burnt out, less than a quarter of them felt like they could speak to their line manager and make a plan to address the problem. As a result, 5% quit their jobs instead. Instead of having workers quit, increasing leadership engagement directly with employees can start to rebuild relationships where employees can communicate more honestly with their managers and employers about their workloads. Including questions about workload overwhelm in a weekly one-to-one meeting, without fear of judgment or retribution, can go a long way toward building trust and improving morale. When employees feel their managers or executives will help them meet their goals with creative solutions, employees won’t feel unseen or unheard. Seeking employee input on projects is another way employers can reinvigorate employee engagement, especially when their suggestions are put into practice and given proper credit. In times of stress, employees often see less of executives, which can add to the stressful environment. Employees often think executives are too busy putting out fires to engage with employees, and seeing more of those in leadership roles can be reassuring to employees. Express gratitude: Gratitude is another top-down element that can drastically improve employee morale. Our Dark Matter of Work survey showed that many employees feel their employers or managers don’t understand how hard they work. Changing that narrative could be the key to improving morale. Starting a practice of directly thanking employees for their roles in successful projects or ongoing work can begin to shift the perception that employers aren’t aware of the work employees are completing. Similarly, creating a process for employees to recognize each other can help remove tension employees might be feeling amidst a rocky business climate. Employers should be wary of useless gifts or empty thank yous — these can take your morale in the other direction. Instead, simple and direct thank you notes or an unexpected gift card can make an employee feel recognized for a particular role played. Create connection amongst staff Employee morale is often greatly impacted by how employees feel supported by each other. When employees are laid off, support systems break down and take time to rebuild. Encouraging employees to get to know one another, trust each other, and appreciate one another can make for a much more enjoyable workplace — and can lead to better collaboration between and within teams. Forcing employees to participate in activities they don’t want to do — taking them away from their desks while work stacks up or making them feel more stressed — should be off the table. Unless your company sells adventure gear, stay away from the ropes course during this time of rebuilding relationships. Instead, keep the activities simple and encourage practices that create a culture of helping each other. At Wrike, we have a kudos form that every employee can fill out each week, recognizing a colleague for a job well done — or simply for being a kind human. Kudos are sent out in a Friday email, creating a culture of recognition and increasing visibility into the great work our teams are doing that might otherwise go unnoticed. Ease the load The most popular ways for employees to attempt to recover from burnout, as highlighted in our Efficiency Report, were practicing self-care at home, switching off notifications outside of working hours, and taking PTO days. Now, offering more PTO days might not be in your budget at the moment, but allowing and encouraging employees to turn off notifications when they’re at home can help ease their load and rebalance their home life. However, it’s important that executives and managers are doing the same: arriving back at work in the morning to 57 emails that were sent late into the evening hours can make employees feel as though they should have responded outside of office hours. Respecting office hours is another practice that needs to be recognized at all employee levels. One of the ways employees cope with ongoing burnout is to seek therapy, which is often offered through company programs. However, it can be hard to schedule appointments with meetings throughout the day. Allowing employees time to meet with a therapist or take care of their mental health helps employees feel that their employers value them beyond just their productivity. Interested in specific examples for each of these categories? We pulled them into a handy infographic: Giving employees tools that make their work easier Of course, many of these suggestions could make employees feel more pressed for time if their workloads remain the same. But we have a few ideas for reducing that as well: use Wrike. It’s a selfish plug, but we’re serious. Our work management software will give your teams hours back that they used to spend duplicating work across different platforms, sending updates to multiple stakeholders, and fiddling with annoying admin tasks that both waste time and cause frustration. Wrike’s work management software will allow your employees to automate repeated tasks like sending approval notices or sending project updates. Our platform allows teams to have greater visibility into projects, reducing stress that they’re missing a critical piece of the process. Giving employees appropriate tools that help them do their jobs more effectively and efficiently is great for productivity and engagement — and great for creating more time to implement these simple, low-cost ways to boost employee morale. Looking for more ways to do more with less? Catch up on the previous posts in our Do More With Less blog series here: Wrike Is Ready to Help You Thrive How To Cope With the Hidden Cost of Layoffs How To Consolidate Your Martech Stack
It's probably happened to you more times than you'd care to remember. You're at the top of your game in the office. Your tasks are done, your projects successful. As a result, your quotas and goals have been reached and decimated. But then suddenly, you discover nasty rumors about you brown-nosing a supervisor or supposedly working your way up the ladder using unsavory tactics. Somehow coworkers take any opportunity to undermine your achievements by knocking you down a peg with their comments or actions. And you thought your colleagues were the best mates ever. Australians have an informal phrase to describe this phenomenon —tall poppy syndrome — the disparagement of someone who's risen to a level that's higher than the other poppies in the same field. In other countries, you're more likely to hear expressions such as the familiar, "Stop making the rest of us look bad." Whatever form it takes though, the results are the same: High-performing individuals sometimes have to endure negative backlash — even social undermining — from their peers because of their work ethic. The psychology of social undermining There are many negative social consequences to excellent performance in the workplace. A study in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour defines social undermining as behavior intended to hinder a worker's success, reputation, and positive relationships over time. This behavior might look like: Someone badmouthing your work or reputation Someone competing with you in order to gain status or prominence over you Someone purposely withholding information you need to do work Someone intentionally giving you false information about a task you're doing so you miss a deadline That same study considers social undermining a form of workplace aggression and identifies three main distinguishing factors, namely: This behavior is intentional. It's done on purpose and with a negative goal in mind. This behavior seeks to interfere with work relationships by influencing how coworkers or supervisors view the victim. This behavior assumes that the above negative outcomes will occur. An article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology studying 1,087 recently unemployed respondents shows that those who experienced social undermining in the workplace reported having poorer mental health that manifested itself in feelings of irritation, anxiety, depression, and more. It impacts the worker and their output in a significant manner. In short, it's an attack meant to slow you down and bring you back down to the attacker's level. And its effects are detrimental to a person's psychological well-being and relationships at work. How to deal with undermining behavior So how does a top performer deal with being the target of resentment in the workplace? Or, what advice can we give to "tall poppies" and overachievers alike? Talk to your colleagues Once this undermining starts impeding your output, you should take concrete steps to alter the situation. First off, confront the people talking about you. If you know who they are, have a simple talk with each person one-on-one, and explain that you want the behavior to stop. This is often the most effective way to solve the problem. Report it But if your plea falls on deaf ears, take it up the chain of command. Talk to your manager, your department head, Human Resources, and so on. File a formal complaint with HR stating just the facts. Make it clear you will not accept this behavior. Pack your bags The simplest option is to weigh your pros and cons and figure out whether it's worth the mental aggravation to come in every day and work in a pit of vipers. If your "cons" column weighs heavier, then begin a new job search and find a friendlier workplace. TIP: Read the reviews of your next company on websites such as Glassdoor. Those anonymous reviews typically spill all the beans. Just remember: no company is perfect. Or... ride it out When confronted with a reader's dilemma that sounds exactly like the opening paragraph of this blog post, HR leader and Forbes columnist Liz Ryan shares this nugget: They say that the emotion most likely to follow intense dislike (even loathing) is boredom. Ryan's point is: If you don't let your sniping colleagues have the satisfaction of seeing you hurt and panicking, they'll eventually move on to another target. This is assuming, of course, you choose to stick it out in a toxic work environment where you have to deal with childish treatment from supposedly adult coworkers. And if you're unsure whether your workplace culture is toxic or safe, then rate your current office with the checklist in this piece: 10 Signs Your Workplace is Toxic. Control what you can: Yourself Finally, the age-old adage is true: you can only control your own reaction to a situation. You can't control what other people say about you or your work. If they're catty or passive-aggressive, you can choose to ignore them and refuse to take the bait. If they're hostile, you can choose to walk away. Meanwhile, you continue to do the work you were hired for to the best of your ability. Because doing it any other way (i.e. slacking off and choosing to produce mediocre work) is an insult both to your capabilities as a performer and to your employer's trust in you. Protect your mental health If you find the stress of dealing with toxic colleagues is bleeding into your personal life, it's time to reach out. Talk to a friend or trusted family member. Research the resources your company offers to support mental health. Remind yourself of the skills and expertise you bring to your organization and why you were hired in the first place. You can only do so much Excellence is divisive in an organization where mediocrity rules. Realize that you can only do so much to fit in or to try and change the culture before you yourself are tainted. It's better to find a company where your skills and your drive can be appreciated. And where, instead of worrying about colleagues stabbing you in the back, you work with people who have your back.
We need to look at our routines and audit our habitual usage of our apps and digital products. Do they aid us in living better quality lives? Or do they harm our ability to focus and function? Here's how to accomplish a digital detox so you can reclaim some of that time back from your apps.
Open floor plan offices are taking over traditional workspaces, breaking down flimsy cubicle walls and strengthening the camaraderie of your team. At apartment-finding service ABODO, we know how important your space can be. That’s why we recently upgraded to an open-concept office ourselves, with department “neighborhoods,” a work-free theater room, seating spaces, and plenty of private office spaces for meetings and phone calls. Other than that, everyone — CEO and executive team included— is out in the open and sharing tables. Although open workspaces have received some pushback as of late, arising largely from noise complaints, there are numerous upsides to permanently folding up cubicles and opening up the office. Here are 5 we can personally attest to: Availability Like I mentioned above, at ABODO HQ, executives and upper-level management are working side-by-side with their departments. That means there’s no working up the nerve to knock on office doors, or wondering when your boss will be around for questions. They are around for questions and conversations, as are the rest of your coworkers. Innovation Sitting around and staring at the same four walls, cubicle or brick-and-mortar, day in and day out doesn’t exactly lend itself to innovation. Having your teammates within speaking distance opens up communication so you can quickly bounce ideas off one another, be they bad or good, and land on new ideas that neither would have stumbled across alone. Collaboration is key to innovation, and if you need collaboration, it’s waiting all around you. Productivity Many worry that the two factors listed above will actually diminish work productivity. But this doesn’t have to be the case. In addition to quick feedback, employees should still be entitled to uninterrupted work time. For this reason, many companies create “quiet zones” with more private workspaces, or enforce a “quiet time,” during which time interrupting others’ work is prohibited. There are also other cues to signal “busy” to chatty coworkers, such as investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones or a shift to a more distant seat. Flexibility One of the key points of open-office setups is the flexibility — you aren’t stuck at a desk behind fuzzy gray walls that barely have the structural integrity to hold up your wall calendar. Instead, you can move from your desk to a couch or chair for a change of scenery. This flexibility leads to higher productivity and job satisfaction, according to Harvard Business Review. Privacy Likely the largest complaint or concern is the loss of privacy that those cubicle walls provide. And to some extent, it’s unavoidable: When you’re sharing table space, insulating yourself from the noises around you can be tricky. And it’s just as difficult to feel like you have privacy if you’re having a delicate conversation or private phone call (which is what extra meeting rooms are perfect for). But, a different HBR report found that more workers were dissatisfied with sound privacy in cubicles than in open workspaces. Fewer workers overall reported being dissatisfied in this aspect, suggesting that most employees are happy to see and be seen. An open-concept office might not work for every business — especially one that requires constant phone contact — but many are finding that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Before you make any decision, consider how often your team requires meetings (which can be trimmed with the proper work management software), how closely their work is tied, and if your current space could also support alternative seating, which is a key ingredient in open offices. Author Bio: Sam Radbil is a contributing member of the marketing and communications team at ABODO, an online apartment marketplace based in Madison, Wisconsin. In just three years, the company has grown to more than 30 employees, raised over $8M in outside funding, and helps more than half a million renters find a new home every month.
How often do you stay late in the office in order to get that last task completed? If you work extra hours once in a while, you’re not alone. Moreover, as our recent survey revealed, the majority is with you! Thanks to your valuable input, we gathered feedback on working habits and productivity from nearly 2,000 respondents. One of the most interesting things that we discovered is that as many as 87% of business owners, executives, managers, team members, and freelancers overwork. Here’s a digest of our survey’s other fascinating findings: Overworked, but not overloaded When we asked our respondents how much they overwork, the most popular answer (chosen by almost 40%) turned out to be 5+ hours weekly. However surprising it may sound, working extra hours seems to be generally taken quite lightly, as almost 38% of those who overwork say they are absolutely satisfied with their work-life balance. If we take a look at all the surveyed people, both those who overwork and those who don’t, a minority 11.5% said they frequently feel overloaded. The rest of our respondents seem to have found a work management secret that keeps them protected from the stress of overload. It's worth mentioning that this “happiness rate” seems to correlate with the respondent’s job position. Among team members, it’s more than half who don’t feel stressed with work at all. For business owners, the share is less than a third. It looks like with great responsibility comes greater stress. When productivity peaks Despite different responsibilities, our respondents across various organizational levels have some common things in their work styles. For example, 64% feel the most productive in the morning hours. Unexpected, but true — even freelancers, who often have a totally flexible schedule, voted the same as the majority. We also compared groups to find out who feels more overloaded (the “early birds” or the “night owls”) and we discovered that the share of stressed workers is much higher among the latter. Almost 27% of night owls admitted to feeling overworked quite often, while just 10% of early birds share this stress. Productivity catalysts vs. Productivity killers Increasing productivity requires some extra motivation. What are those factors that drive us the most at work? According to our survey results, the three leading efficiency motivators are: A sense of responsibility A good mood A possible reward Being on a deadline is often considered to be a stress factor. However, more than 54.6% of our respondents find deadlines inspiring for their productivity. Perhaps because they help to beat procrastination, which, along with unexpected interruptions, was listed as one of the most dangerous productivity killers. A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to stats. To review all of these survey results and more at a glance, check out our new infographic with the rest of our fascinating findings. And don’t forget to share it with your colleagues! Last, but not least: Thanks to your very active participation, this survey turned out to be a blast! We really appreciate your input and, as we promised, we did a drawing of 10 stylish Coffee Joulies among everyone who took part in the survey. Congrats to the lucky winners: Jerry Schmidt (CivicPlus), Ayana Hastings (EmbanetCompass), Steve Fishman (Volunteers of America Michigan, Inc.), Wally Arms (Crescent Inc.), Pascal Condouret (Royal Canin), Noah Sodano (Propaganda Labs), Colleen Fyfe (PARMA Recordings), Spenser Baldwin (Snap Agency) and two winners who asked us to keep their names private. Wrike’s Santa is already on the way with the prizes!