Employers must realize that working longer hours does not have to be productive.

The UAE government created the Ministry of Happiness for extremely valid motives. Companies face a problem more significant than COVID-19. It results from depression and stress at work that substantially impacts both employees and business performance.

Many research studies from Gallup and Gallup to Korn Ferry and WHO have shed light on the «silent killers of happiness. Depression is a major factor in productivity, as well as stress leads to absenteeism or ‹presenteeism› and staff turnover.

To change the situation in the world, we must acknowledge the reasons behind stress at work tension that results from the combination of high demands on the job and inadequate job control, lengthy work hours, financial uncertainty of losing employment, and low wages that cause economic instability; conflict between the family and work as well as harassment and bullying at work and perceived unfairness, or a feeling of injustice and absence in social acceptance.

How do we go in resolving these problems? Many of the causes that cause stress and burnout could be addressed at a minimum by companies that stop treating the existing organizational structures and jobs as sacred and begin to engage in serious re-design initiatives. Here are two businesses taking this approach:

Removal of distractions

SAS, the most prominent privately-owned software company globally, employs 35-hour working hours. When we asked their executives the reasons for this and what they thought of as the reason, their answer was unanimity that very few people in organizations work more than 35 hours over a week. (Our independent study of different organizations revealed that the highest number of hours an employee can be productively working was six hours in one day).

SAS made steps to reduce obstacles that slowed down. On-site childcare, support with elderly care, a chief medical officer who could help select the most suitable health care providers who offered health plans that didn’t weigh the people down with paperwork or similar benefits slowed down distractions by offering employees quality assistance with their life concerns.

A strong emphasis on trust in employees and decentralization of decision-making have also eliminated the necessity for endless «check-ins and the need to obtain approval from the various layers of management. Processes that waste time.

Automation can ease stress.

Another example is a business redefining the primary care experience for both patients and healthcare providers. For it to be successful, the company must cut down on the rate of burnout and physician turnover and provide a superior patient experience by increasing physicians› levels of engagement. To achieve this, it must address an alarming increase in administrative tasks and work hours and the growing digitization.

The company is taking a step that every company can do to decrease the effort and time wasted that creates long hours and makes work stress-inducing. We call it ‹user-centric workplace design.› The company employed more than 100 software engineers who work with doctors to discover the tasks that can be automated to decrease the workload of doctors and create software that is simple to use.

A group of individuals from all positions and levels meet regularly to decide how to distribute tasks in ways that minimize stress. This allows employees to determine which procedures or studies can be eliminated with no adverse consequences.

Take a genuine commitment.

The number of unneeded tasks to be completed in a day is astonishing. Many of these tasks are leftovers from policies established for a long time that no longer serve a reason.

Specific processes don’t add significant economic value. Many companies accept existing job models for granted, which means they miss the chance to reduce stress significantly.

Most companies think their workplaces and routines to be essential and never doubt what they are doing or how they’re doing it. For example, one financial service company never considered the possibility that its 100-hour workweeks were not legal nor beneficial in attracting or keeping top employees.

Re-designing the job to lessen stress and improve happiness and productivity is not a standard procedure and is the primary reason that most businesses are hesitant to try it. Like designing products, it demands the observation of employees, interactions with them to figure out how to cut unneeded tasks, and consultation with those who perform the job each day.

Most importantly, it is a matter of those who aren’t willing to accept that depression in the workplace is unchangeable and don’t resort to band-aids such as yoga classes or stress reduction workshops to recognize the issue. Every organization can do this only if it’s prepared to place employees in the center of the design process for their jobs.

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