Effective personal work flow management is a critical aspect of long-term business success. Unfortunately for ambitious entrepreneurs, the concept is too often resigned to a continuing struggle just to keep up with basic business demands. Worse, the problem tends to trickle down through an organization, with each level of management pushing the next tier to maximum capacity, until the work force is stretched thin, from top to bottom.

Personnel management presents a dilemma. On one hand, you’re obliged to take a fair and reasonable stance with employees, yet on the other; your leadership role demands productivity. Striking the proper balance is a lot to ask with profitability – even viability, on the line. One study showed nearly a third of the work force feels overworked and overwhelmed on the job. Correcting that condition may be an opportunity for employers to better develop human resources, by creating time for employees to pursue their professional passions.

Time Well Spent or Unnecessary Distractions?

Sprout Funding logoThere is no shortage of reasons to avoid overworking employees; the practice ultimately harms your business, more than it helps. Staff members may have their hands full attending meetings, managing calls and emails, travelling, and putting out fires that inevitably arise from business operations. Not only is it unreasonable to expect more, but the unrealistic position can actually become counterproductive, leading to stress, anxiety, and poor output. Stretched employees fall behind, and your organization may also experience long-term downsides of overworking staff, such as high turnover caused by burnout and physical illness.

Although extra time is lacking in many work environments, a recent Inc. article explored some of the ways your employees might spend the time, if they ever got out from under a heavy workload. In the piece, author John Hall shared an entrepreneur’s perspective on balancing expectations in the workplace. According to Hall, staff may be eager to embrace the following professional pursuits, time permitting.

Build Relationships With Coworkers – Hectic workplace culture can overshadow personal relationships, which may leave staff unfulfilled. Research underscores the benefits of connecting with coworkers and organizational leaders on a personal level. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace poll quantified the benefit, asserting that close friendships improve employee satisfaction by as much as 50 percent. It is thought the same morale boost occurs among employees who have trusting relationships with their bosses.

Workplace friendships grow from workers taking an outside interest in one another and finding points of contact within the work flow. As a leader, sensitive to staff satisfaction, you may be able to facilitate relationships by suggesting team members lunch together or collaborate closely on work projects. Without condoning office gossip, allowing employees to share during the workday may also help build better bonds between staff members. Focused team-building exercises are also effective, bringing together employees over leisure activities with a cooperative component.

Access is a key factor, so don’t use your busy schedule as an excuse. Instead, embrace one-on-one opportunities with staff members, or designate set hours, during which your door is open to employees.

Help Others – Members of the work force, particularly young people raised in a cooperative culture, want to help other people. In fact, assisting others is so important to Millennials and Generation Z, some members have expressed willingness to work for less money, so long as they get to support a closely-held cause at work.

As an owner/operator you can help satisfy employees’ need to help by coordinating team outings, or permitting flexible scheduling for volunteering.

Take Better Care – It’s no secret; personal care suffers at the hand of overwork. It is thought managers and staff members would devote more attention to personal wellness, if they had more time to focus on themselves during the workday.

Allotting time for proper lunch breaks and periods for mental and physical rejuvenation are steps you can take to keep employees focused and satisfied. Wellness programs have also proven effective, increasing employee engagement and yielding higher productivity from fulfilled staff. Another way to support staff wellness, time management training may prove helpful for employees feeling deadline pressures. The exercise teaches delegation, automation, and managing priorities, which can help staff work more efficiently.

Develop New Skills – Personal growth is important to employees at every stage of their careers. Without opportunities to grow and expand their business skills and understanding, employees feel stunted, and may consider other employment possibilities. High turnover, associated with low job satisfaction, is a costly price to pay for not challenging and enriching people on your payroll.

Mentoring, training across different departments, professional education, and other incentives are well-received by workers, keeping them engaged and adding new skills and abilities, beneficial to your business. Whenever possible, encourage passion projects to acknowledge valuable employee contributions.

Innovate – Flexing their creative muscle and developing significant, long-term projects are two ways workers would spend their time, given a chance. Innovating, brainstorming, and improving processes are vital for both individuals and the organizations for which they work. The last thing you want to do is stand in the way, misallocating employee resources.

Rather than frustrate employees’ efforts to shine, embrace company culture that elicits feedback from workers and offers rewards and incentives for the progressive thinking that will keep you competitive in the future.

As a business owner, you are responsible for furnishing the tools employees need to move your vision forward. Among them, time is a scarce and coveted commercial resource. Despite the competition for your attention and that of your employees, don’t allow time constraints to hold you back. These are only a few of the things your employees might accomplish if they had more time.

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