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This Is Why You’re So Tired


You like your job, maybe even love it, but you don’t like going to work. You feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done, and you are frustrated by the lack of time you’re able to devote to the most crucial tasks. You feel less autonomous than you’d like, and you don’t get the appreciation or acknowledgement you deserve. Some days it feels like all of your hard work isn’t making much of a difference, for you or your company. And, worst of all, you’re exhausted. Trying to face a day of work, (especially one that’s full of so many challenges), with so little energy, can be a terrible feeling. So what’s going on?

stressed tired worker

(Photo Credit: Soon/Flickr)

This experience is common. The stress and exhaustion levels that used to be reserved for top executives and managers have now found their way into the daily experience of most workers. Americans have always valued hard work, but things have gotten out of hand in recent years, and we’re all paying the price.

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A group called The Energy Project has inserted themselves into the conversation, and is working to help organizations understand and adjust the way they function in order to combat this pervasive problem. Through working with companies, and by conducting research, they’ve uncovered some key factors that contribute to workers’ general malaise, stress, and exhaustion.

They’ve determined that employees are happier and more productive when four of their core needs are met. The more these needs are satisfied, the more likely employees are to feel engaged, devoted to their company, and positive about their work. They also lower their perceived levels of stress, and raise their general energy levels.

Here’s an overview of the four core needs, and what managers can do to accommodate them.

1. Renewal.

Being encouraged to take breaks increases the likelihood of workers staying with their company. Having a break every 90 minutes improves focus and the ability to think creatively, as well as individuals’ health and well-being. By contrast, working continuously makes employees feel worse and they become less engaged the longer they go without a break.

2. Value.

Feeling cared for has a greater impact on employee’s sense of trust and safety with an organization than any other factor. A supportive relationship with one’s supervisor increases the likelihood that one will stay with an organization, and it also raises levels of engagement profoundly.

3. Focus

Having the ability to focus on one task at a time led to increased levels of engagement. Likewise, having the ability to effectively prioritize tasks, improved reported levels of focus as well. Being able to hone in one thing at a time, and being allowed to make decisions about what projects and tasks take priority, can make a huge difference in reported levels of engagement and satisfaction overall.

4. Purpose

People who feel that their work is meaningful and significant are three times more likely to stay with their organizations. In fact, this sense of purpose was the most significant variable, according to the survey. Employees who felt their work was important also reported more job satisfaction, and, you guessed it, higher levels of engagement at work.

This research is compelling, and it should be taken into account by organizations looking for productivity, loyalty, and positivity from their employees. When even just one of these needs is met, performance variables improve.

For more information read this piece in The New York Times, or learn more about The Energy Project. There are some powerful ideas here, and managers would do well to consider them carefully.

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