Ensuring a sufficient employee recovery is challenging in today’s stressful work culture. Taking care of your own recovery seems to be an achievement in itself. So how to ensure your team members get enough recovery and how to support them in managing their stress-levels? By reading this blog post you will learn about science-backed ways to support work recovery in your team and help to create a more healthy and sustainable workplace culture.
Insufficient recovery among leading risk factors for poor health and performance
Waking up early can be a constant horror for some, but we all experience difficult mornings sometimes. These are the days we want to throw the alarm to the wall. Already triggered on the way we are greeted at the office by yesterday's leftover tasks. The phone and the inbox are blowing up with inquiries. There are decisions to be made but the head feels empty. Sound familiar?
“An employee with an ever increasing workload might seem efficient at first, but in the long run ultimately results in an outcome equal to that of the stay-in-the-comfort-zone-colleague.”
Unfortunately it’s unlikely we’ll completely remove stress from our work, but according to a growing body of research there are certain recovery activities that can help to grow our resilience—the psychological strength and ability to bounce back from difficulties and to maintain balance and wellbeing even under pressure.
Taking care of your own recovery seems to be an achievement in itself. So how to ensure your team members get enough recovery and how to support them in managing their stress-levels? According to research in teams where supervisors were supporting employee recovery, employees felt more relaxed and were able to psychologically detach from work in their free-time, had better autonomy and time management skills and experienced fewer health issues and less work-related emotional exhaustion.
Read our previous blog to learn how to recognize the need for recovery in your team.
Recovery experiences, personal resources and individual well-being
According to research there are specific activities that can promote work recovery. Recovery experiences are characterized by feelings of relaxation, experiences of mastery and self-efficacy, experiences of autonomy and being in control and experiences where you can psychologically detach work related thoughts, tasks and obligations. The experience of work recovery is individual. What is relaxing to some does not necessarily do the job for another. It is important to find the individual methods of recovery that work for you.
“Recovery happens also during the workday. Educate your team about how to manage energy throughout the day”
Individual resources are an essential part of work recovery. The maintenance and fostering of one's resources is pivotal to deal with stress and job demands. Internal resources include personal strengths and abilities such as self-efficacy or ones individual patterns of interpretation and behavior. A home, balanced family- & lovelife and supportive friends are examples of external resources. The individual with sufficient resources is able to better handle work stress and recover faster from work related efforts and setbacks.
What can you do to support recovery in your team?
Management consultant and an author Tony Schwartz underlines that supervisors should understand that workday is not a marathon, but rather a series of sprints that are requiring some recovery time between sets.
Leadership- and professional athlete coaching specialists Petter Kilpinen and Antti Hagqvist pinpoint that an employee with an ever increasing workload might seem efficient at first, but in the long run ultimately results in an outcome equal to that of the stay-in-the-comfort-zone colleague.
“Workday is not a marathon, but rather a series of sprints that are requiring some recovery time between sets. “
You can support your team’s recovery during the weekends, during the evenings and also during the workday. It goes without saying that the physical working environment plays a major role in employee satisfaction. It's a whole different experience to work in a stuffy, badly lit and poorly air conditioned office compared to a refreshingly decorated, air conditioned and spacious office with a lot of natural light. Company culture, leadership and communication practises also play a role in recovery. In self-organized and trust-based organizations with a sense of community employees tend to be more happy and experience lower levels of stress.
10 science backed ways to help support your team’s recovery
Arrange a weekly gentle (and paid) yoga session, mindfulness or relaxation practice. Even 15 minutes of body awareness or deep breathing can help de-stress and recharge your workforce for the rest of the day.
Encourage your team members to switch their work phones off when leaving for the day. If this is not possible, suggest them to switch off the visible pop-up notifications from their device, and instead of constantly being on the phone, to check the messages every two hours.
Recovery happens also during the workday. Educate your team about how to manage energy throughout the day. Encourage micro breaks during the workday. This could mean just stretching and taking a few deep breaths, walking to get another cup of tea, or taking a mini stroll in a nearby park. Start from yourself and lead by example. If you want your team to take regular breaks, then you need to do it too.
Suggest your team members to practice mindfulness while commuting. This means paying attention to the physical surroundings with all the senses and gently keeping the focus on the sensory information when thoughts arise.
Suggest your team members to leave the office on a lunch break and ideally have lunch with friends or colleagues they can relax with. It’s advisable not to talk about work during lunch. Having lunch with the supervisor correlates with lower recovery than eating with friends and colleagues.
Have healthy free snacks available at the office at all times. Providing healthy foods such as nuts and fruit supports recovery, prevents cravings and keeps energy levels stable.
Encourage your team members to prioritize sleep, provide them information about the importance of sleep for brain health, ageing, and recovery. It is a good reminder that alcohol disrupts the deep sleep and prevents recovery.
Nature has an immense wellbeing and soothing power. Arrange your next team meeting in the woods, nearby park or beach.
Try to provide your team members autonomy and create a culture of trust, in which everyone is free to build their own working style and routine. This gives your employee the possibility to adjust the work to other areas of their life.
Remind your team members about the importance of maintenance and care of personal resources such as physical health, relationship, children and close friendships. After all these are the assets, resources and the underlying reason for the work the employee is doing, and their care should be supported.
Transformation starts from the foundation
Employers have a part to play here. We hope this article encourages team leaders and managers to view their workplace culture with recovery in mind.
With the simple tips presented above you can start supporting your team to master the basics of work recovery. Beyond improving the quality of work, you will create a culture of trust, loyalty and wellbeing with employees that love to come to work each morning. Start from yourself and lead by your own example.
Emooter is a Virtual Guide for improving wellbeing in the workplace. The guide can help you in reducing employee stress and creating a recovery-friendly workplace culture. Invest a few minutes to evaluate your team and implement measures to deal with and prevent the implications of insufficient recovery.