Better habits lead to improved productivity and happiness and lower absenteeism and staff turnover. Photo: Pixabay

It’s a new year which means more articles in our news feeds on how to be better versions of ourselves and you may have noticed lately that a lot of these self-help pieces centre on the concept of “habits”.

It’s for good reason that this concept of daily incremental changes has caught on. Instead of thinking big, think small. Think more specific. Think more measurable (and ultimately more achievable). After all, our habits become our reality, so it’s no wonder that everybody is latching on to this popular concept. 

Just as we’re being told to adopt habits to eat more healthily or establish more positive personal relationships, so too can the concept of habits be applied to the workplace, and your employees within them. After all, better habits lead to improved productivity and happiness, and lower absenteeism and staff turnover (as do corporate medical aid options like the Emotional Wellbeing Programme from Fedhealth). With this in mind, here are some great workplace habits to inspire your employees to adopt this year:

Encourage everyone to contribute ideas

Many of your employees may be introverts, or brilliant listeners with innovative ideas and strong work ethics but it can be difficult to notice their talents unless they make their voices heard. Try and draw out their opinions by asking them specific questions in meetings or directly over email, as they may have a lot of value to add. Getting to know the diverse skills and talents of your entire team will only make the company stronger. 

Explain that email should be a tool, not a distraction

Originally intended to improve our communication (and productivity), the problem is that email can easily distract us from the tasks we should be doing, every time we hear that ping. “Oh look! We’re having a Mexican themed lunch in the canteen next Friday!”. “I can’t believe the procurement department has got it wrong again, let me write a detailed reply about what they actually need to do”. And before you know it, you’ve lost the entire morning! Encourage employees to shut down their email when they’re working on important documents – that way they won’t be distracted, because if it’s really THAT urgent, someone will phone them or arrive at their desks. 

Commit to learning

We should never stop learning, no matter how experienced we become. In fact, if you’ve worked your way up to a managerial or leadership position, you need to be making even more of an effort to upskill and expand your knowledge, so that you can share your learnings with others. Try and do a few new courses a year and encourage your staff to do the same – it’s important that your HR or training department is extremely proactive about proposing courses to staff that will add value to your company as a whole.

Address meetings

While collaboration and group work are incredibly important, scheduling meetings that aren’t productive is also a total time waster. Analyse the motivation behind each and every meeting you set up – is it really necessary to have 15 people around the table, when you actually just want to monitor two individuals’ progress? Also check if you really need a full hour for every meeting. A one-hour meeting is our default, but you could also schedule standing 20-minute sessions, or 45 minutes for meatier discussions. 

Focus on progress, not perfection

So many employees work in a fear-based environment, where they don’t want to do anything new because they’re aiming for perfection. As employers, we need to establish a culture where mistakes are normalised, and what matters most is learning and adapting as we go. It’s how all great things are achieved. Break this broad view down into the tasks your employees do daily (i.e. habits), and marvel at how much they’ll learn and achieve.

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