What are you doing this Labor Day weekend?
Labor Day isn’t just a day off to celebrate (or commiserate!) the unofficial end of summer.
We all know it was originally dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. A yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Whilst today’s labor force looks very different to that of the 1880s, Labor Day is more important than ever to celebrate – and pay tribute to – today’s workforce.
In fact, a staggering 66% of 3,500 workers we polled in recent research said that being recognized and valued for the work they do is more important than ever.
With productivity still stagnant, and more and more people-orientated companies understanding the value of wellbeing in the workplace, we thought we’d use this Labor Day weekend to share some productivity and wellbeing tips at work.
What can companies do to really and truly support their workforces and worker wellbeing? What life hacks can employees share to keep them productive?
We’ve been chatting about it at Sage People HQ this week – here’s a roundup of tips and tricks from across the team!
“Before I go to bed, I plan when I will both go outside and when I will work out the following day”, explains Account Executive Dan Mayer. “That will become a commitment that I make with myself.”
For Dan, he says it can be challenging to find time every day, so treating it like any other commitment and fitting it in to his calendar each day is vital.
“As an employee who works from home, it’s easy to fall into a routine where you wake up, start work, end work, relax, go to bed, repeat”, he says. “Going outside every day is a must.”
Product Marketing Manager Laurie Beppel agrees: “For me, it’s getting outside! Ride a bike, walk the dog, or hike. We spend so much time indoors, whether at work or home, it’s wonderful to be outside.”
Partners Account Manager Jeff Fattibene has a novel way to make sure he exercises as often as he can, meaning he can be as productive as possible at work: “One indirect hack I’ve used to be more productive was rewiring my brain to be able to workout with little lead up time”.
He explains: “I previously found myself having to set a block of time in the morning or the evening to workout. The morning workout was daunting because of the misery of getting up an hour early, while the evening workout caused me to eat later, get to other tasks later, and go to bed later.”
“By getting in the habit of throwing on the sneakers and getting in a quick run or HIIT circuit when I realize I have a half hour to spare, I was more likely to bust out physical activity when my brain needed a refresh, as opposed to spending time dreading it. This leads to an increase in productivity when you’re on a business related task as well.”
Service Delivery Manager Jason Hamm says his simplest hack for staying productive is to use his calendar to schedule when he’s going to complete tasks in advance. “I have a role that supports a lot of people and I receive a lot of ad hoc requests for meetings, so my calendar changes daily”, he explains.
“If I do not schedule blocks of time to concentrate on tasks, I will often have that time booked by someone else and it makes it difficult to meet deadlines and deliverables I have agreed to.”
“If I know there is a piece of work I need to have done I will block that time on my calendar”, he adds. “That way I won’t be distracted and can make sure I have adequate time to finish.”
Everyone loves a good list – and the team here at Sage People are no different! Field Marketing Manager Julie Stewart gets a head start on hers early each morning: “I always get to work early. I like the peace and quiet. It helps me settle in and mentally prepare for the day”.
Part of settling in for the day is managing her to-do list. She explains: “I am a huge believer in lists! I rewrite and reprioritize my to-do list every morning. It helps me stay focused and adjust to the day’s needs. Plus, I probably get too much satisfaction from crossing things off the list once finished”.
Customer Success Manager Sarah Hulsey agrees – but approaches hers at the end of each day instead of beginning. “I write down the top things I need to accomplish the next day and start on that list first thing in the morning”, she says. “That doesn’t mean I’m always able to complete everything but starting the day with a clear agenda means I know what needs to be accomplished.”
Sarah is also a big fan of free tools like Trello to help organize to-do lists.
Who doesn’t love that sense of satisfaction drawing a line through a task you’ve accomplished, or moving a card to ‘complete’?
This was one of the most important aspects to feeling productive and supported at work. Everyone wants to feel recognized for the work that they do.
Julie explains: “When I know my managers are acknowledging the work I do, are there to help me when I’m struggling and are concerned about my general wellbeing, I feel better about my job in general – which I know makes me more productive. Feeling seen, heard and cared about are simple, easy things, that go a long way”.
For Sarah, part of this is empowering workers to make their own decisions and structure their own day in the way that works best for them. “Freedom is a very powerful thing that can lead to great engagement and workplace satisfaction”, she says.
Hire an employee experience champion is Partners Account Manager Jeff Fattibene advice – “Someone has to be responsible for baking it into the company’s cultural DNA”, he argues.
“If you don’t have an individual who bears the responsibility of being in tune with your workforce, and what programs or benefits resonate with them on an individual level, you’ll never truly connect and be able to effectively promote that healthy culture.”
Unsurprisingly, valuing work-life balance is so vital for employees.
“Work-life balance is so important, and it’s really the responsibility of both the employee and the company”, explains Sales Development Representative Nia Terry. “I love that my company supports this concept; in return I am happier, healthier and work harder.”
Sarah Hulsey says this is especially important for remote workers. Her advice? “When I’m done for the day, I’m done.”
“Even though my ‘office’ is still in line of sight, I don’t feel pressured by my company to be available 24/7. It can be easy to work at all hours of the day, but I really strive to put boundaries on the times I’m online”.
We think Sales Development Lead Laura Benz summarizes it perfectly when she says employees need to establish a working environment that feeds more to an employee’s life, than a salary and fill for the 9-5.
We think VP of Sales and Private Equity Relations Steve Malloy and Service Delivery Manager Jason Hamm have it spot on when they say companies play a huge role in workers’ wellbeing.
Steve explains: “Provide incentives for healthy behavior; make it easy to subsidize health club memberships and professionally lead group exercise before or after work or at lunch. Providing healthy snack alternatives in break rooms – for example, bananas versus bon-bons – is also vital.”
Sometimes it can just be the small things that can make a bid difference to workers’ wellbeing. Jason explains: “For me, a simple thing Sage has done is allow me to use our remote policy to have a Varidesk so that I can stand and work throughout the day.”
“Having the opportunity to stand and move around, is something I really enjoy when I’m on conference calls and speaking with colleagues”.
Every employee is different. Some may value a good-work life balance. For others, it’s about that feeling they get when they accomplish something. People Companies know this, and tailor experiences for each employee as a result.
Lead Development Specialist Tyler Ott summarizes this perfectly in his three hacks which we love and will leave you with.
“Just start your project”, he says. “Even if it is one phone call, or one email, or even one simple report you need. Get something down, and let the rest come later.”
Number two is to get up and walk every hour to two hours. “Trust me,” Tyler says. “Your eyes and body need it desperately if you sit and stare at a computer all day.”
His last words? Know your available technology. “Keeping up-to-date on different tools that are out there only makes you better at your job, but it increase your productivity.”
He concludes: “Work smarter, not harder.”
What do your workforce really want? Download research from 3,500 workers on what makes them productive.