Pace Yourself to Avoid Workplace Fatigue

Similar to athletes in the pool or on the track, employees need to pace themselves in the office in order to avoid burning out, new research suggests. The study from researchers at the University of Virginia and Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a model for how employees should best distribute their efforts during the day to prevent fatigue. Previous research has found that fatigue not only makes work more unpleasant, but it results in decreased productivity. When developing the model, the researchers found that employees are best served by following one of two patterns, depending on the type of job they have.

This pattern is similar to the strategy that Olympic swimmers and runners often use. The study’s authors said these athletes typically try to lower their burn rate after getting off to a strong start so they have some energy left in their tank for a strong finish. Some jobs, however, require employees to always perform at maximum intensity. This may include workers who operate machinery or provide customer service. In this “all-or-none” scenario, the researchers say the best pattern for employees to follow is to begin and end the day with “on” periods, but take breaks during the day. Employers who insist on employees keeping a high pace all the time are harming their organization in the long run, according to the study. The researchers said fatigued employees leads to high turnover, low morale and low productivity. Since fatigue often goes unnoticed until it is already causing problems, the study’s authors said employers are best served by taking preemptive measures to ensure workers don’t get burned out. Manel Baucells, one of the study’s authors and a professor at the University of Virginia, suggests that managers can help avoid fatigue by giving employees greater control over when they take breaks. The researchers said their study isn’t meant to say that employees should be working long hours. Working lengthy days is fine, as long as employees are given breaks during the day to recharge. “Google seems to have learned this lesson and makes the work environment pleasant, promoting fun distractions, while at the same time encouraging long work hours,” Baucells wrote in an article on the University of Virginia Darden School of Business’s website. For employees who work from home, it is important that they self-manage their time and effort.

The study’s authors said they need to avoid the temptation to push hard all day long. “At-home workers should draw clear home/work boundaries in their schedules (and workspaces) to better facilitate a high-low-high effort, rather than putting in long hours that wind up yielding equivalent (or lower) outputs,” Baucells wrote. “They may even consider starting work immediately upon rising in the morning to take advantage of showering and breakfast as times to rest and reduce accumulated fatigue.” In the end, the researchers believe employers will see the dividends in ensuring their employees don’t become overfatigued from pushing themselves too hard.

Really Do to Your Team

Getting your new hires started off on the right foot requires more than just offering them a quick tour of the office and sending them on their way. Giving employees the best chance at future success requires a successful and thorough onboarding program, according to new research from CareerBuilder. Unfortunately, a number of employers aren’t taking those steps. The study found that 36 percent of organizations do not have a structured onboarding process in place. Not having any process in place can cause a number of negative consequences for both the employee and employer. Specifically, 16 percent of HR managers said it lowers their company’s productivity, 14 percent said it brings on greater inefficiencies and 12 percent said it leads to higher employee turnover.

Lower employee morale, lower levels of employee engagement, lower confidence among employees, a lack of trust within the organization and missed revenue targets are among the other negative impacts of not having a thorough onboarding program. “While onboarding is a critical component of setting new employees up for success from day one, this study shows some companies are neglecting fundamentals in the onboarding process – and running into serious consequences that can impact the bottom line,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said in a statement. The study discovered employers use varying strategies when it comes to their onboarding process. Nearly half of those surveyed provide an overview of their process and how things work; 45 percent offer individual, ongoing training; 43 percent introduce new hires to key employees; and 42 percent provide an introduction to the company culture.

Additionally, more than 30 percent have a team welcome, ensure the new employee’s workspace and technology is ready before they arrive, and have goals and expectations for the employee’s role with defined milestones and success metrics. Some employers also provide detailed information on the company and growth opportunities and assign a mentor to the new hire. The research revealed that HR employees would benefit from including more automation and technology into their onboarding systems. More than 40 percent of the HR managers surveyed who don’t capture onboarding information electronically spend three hours or more per employee manually collecting and processing the data, while 16 percent spend five or more hours.  Those who collect all the information manually say they suffer from heavier workloads and higher stress levels. In addition, it leads to missing information, delayed start dates and candidates who end up walking away from the job because the process took too long. “Employers need to establish a comprehensive checklist for every new employee and incorporate more automation to provide a better, more efficient experiences for employees, their managers and HR,” Haefner said. Overall, one-quarter of employers have an onboarding process that lasts just a day, or less, with 26 percent having programs that last about a week. Twenty-one percent have an onboarding process that lasts one month, with 11 percent extending it over the course of at least three months. The study was based on surveys of 2,300 hiring managers and human resource professionals across a variety of industries and company sizes in the private sector. – See more at:

Business Owners Are Not Following Suit in the Gig Economy

The gig economy might be growing by leaps and bounds in the U.S., but small business owners are slow to embrace freelancers and independent contractors. A new survey released by small business marketing firm Manta found that most entrepreneurs prefer to employ traditional salaried employees rather than opt for more temporary or fluid work arrangements. Moreover, the minority of small business owners that do use gig economy labor don’t offer benefits to those workers, the survey results demonstrate. “With all the press the growth of the gig economy has gotten … we were expecting to see higher numbers,” Dario Ambrosini, chief operating officer at Manta, said. “These results are more in line with what we’ve seen from small businesses in the past. They mainly hire contract workers for seasonal businesses or short term projects.” According to Manta’s survey, two-thirds of small business owners do not currently employ any contractors or freelancers, and 85 percent have no plans on hiring those types of workers within the next year. Further, 73 percent said they do not utilize online labor marketplaces, such as Upwork, to find and hire freelancers.

“Small businesses tend to buck the trend and do their own thing,” Ambrosini said. “Large companies are definitely moving toward the contract worker, but this poll and everything else we’ve done shows SMBs won’t embrace the gig economy –  and I wouldn’t predict that they will until those numbers start to move.” Manta’s survey is based on responses from more than 2,200 small business owners between March 28 and March 31. The margin of error on all numbers is +/- 2.08 percentage points.