“REGENERATION is becoming the key word for regaining productivity lost by companies today” – I read in one of the reports on the condition of employees (“Tired, indifferent, unengaged” by Benefit Systems, and the author of these words is Małgorzata Frankowska).
According to many reports, we are tired. We are already tired when waking up in the morning (63% of respondents strongly agreed with this statement) and do not regenerate at the weekend (72%). Fatigue accompanies us even though we do not objectively have more work. Why? Because fatigue has its source not only in the number of duties performed at work, but also in other factors.
We are in a state of constant readiness, constantly connected to the network, and thus: forced responsiveness. We have little focused work, but a great sense of urgency (often disturbed, we create it ourselves). We feel meaningless. In addition, we have anxiety and stress related to the political and economic situation. These are just some of the factors that contribute to our mental fatigue.
Why do we need regeneration so much?
Because if we keep the body in a state of increased readiness for a long time without the possibility of regeneration, our resources eventually run out.
And we’ve been keeping our bodies on alert for a long time. The body is still trying to fight off the effects of the stressor – which consumes our physical and mental energy. This leaves us with a lower level of available resources when additional stressors occur. And there are probably as many of them as always, but due to the fact that we have fewer resources, we feel them more strongly.
Body functions fall below the normal level (deteriorated physical condition: e.g. fatigue, trouble sleeping, tension; and mental condition e.g. reduced ability to focus, problems with making decisions, making mistakes, lack of optimism, lack of patience, irritability, isolation). At this point, the body requires rest and renewal to rebuild its resources. If it does not get the much-needed rest, which is very common in today’s world of chronic stressors, we can enter a state of exhaustion and crisis.
That is why we need regeneration, i.e. rebuilding the resources we use.
The stress response is the body’s mobilization response. On cortisol and adrenaline, you can manage for a few days, a few weeks, but eventually you will feel the effects of reduced levels of resources. The organization will feel it too.
How does an employee’s fatigue affect productivity?
There is less and less energy to act, the level of engagement decreases – take a look at the Kinecentric report from autumn 2022 “Trends in employee engagement”. There are currently 15% of highly engaged employees (down by 3 points from 2021). There are more passive and moderately engaged employees. One of the reasons for this is fatigue. The other reasons are the absence of a sense of meaning and the absence of a sense of influence (the last two factors also generate mental fatigue). “I’m tired, overwhelmed with pressure, I don’t have the strength, I need to rest, but I can’t.
The costs of fatigue are: distraction, lower cognitive abilities, lower creativity, more mistakes, also cognitive errors, more frequent irritability, lower pace of work and, finally, the presenteeism and the absence from work.
What drains us of energy?
Energy can be managed. First, it is worth considering what causes us to lose it, what drains us, makes us tired. Often it is stress resulting from uncertainty, the absence of a sense of influence and a sense of meaning. We are also drained by complaining and worrying too much. I remember one of the managers only noticed during our session that she complains a lot. And she considered herself a proactive person.
Putting on a mask, armour, i.e. pretending to be someone else, artificial politeness, artificial enthusiasm, acting in accordance with the expectations of others and against yourself, it’s exhausting.
It is also exhausting to be constantly available and expecting an immediate response from yourself. I consciously write “from myself”, because such an expectation is not communicated by the organization or leaders, and yet many people I work with cannot (won’t) cut themselves off from notifications, from contact with others, even for a moment. They are afraid of losing control, missing something important (FOMO syndrome), the reactions of others. Such exposure and being in constant expectation leads to arousal of the amygdala and a feeling of constant threat.
Recently, I’ve been conducting a lot of individual sessions, talking to leaders with various experiences and I see how subjective the feeling of being overwhelmed and overloaded with duties is. People with a high level of mental toughness, despite the objectively greater number of tasks and responsibilities that they deal with, are able to notice when they need to cut off some stimuli, and they actually do it. They feel that it is necessary and it will bring good results. They know that we all work with what is, i.e. with certain limitations, with excess, and we have to choose what is most important and not what would be useful.
How to regenerate and build resources?
We know, after all, that each of us has our own (sometimes rarely used and dusty) ways to regenerate.
Evelyn: - Gosia, you look great.
Me: - It's two weeks of vacation, I came back a week ago
Evelyn: – Bourgeoisie! I mean, you run a business like me, what about your customers?
Me: - Evelyn, there is a moment, a limit, when you cross it, your work brings more harm than good. I try not to go to that limit.
Let’s not try to “keep going” at all costs. It’s rarely worth it.
What do you spend your time on? Take a look at this. Is it actually something that moves you forward in any way? You, your business, your company’s activities? Or are these things you just do out of habit, because you’ve always done it, because it’s appropriate to do it, because you have to do it, or because others do it? It’s worth doing your own calculations. You have to give up something, because our time, working time and time after work is simply not made of rubber.
Raport Benefit Systems „Zmęczeni, obojętni, niezaangażowani. Postpandemiczne potrzeby pracowników” https://biuroprasowe.benefitsystems.pl/215962-raport-benefit-systems-zmeczeni-obojetni-niezaangazowani-postpandemiczne-potrzeby-pracownikow, listopad 2022
Raport Human Power “Zmęczeni zmęczeniem” https://akademia.humanpower.pl/raport-zmeczeni-zmeczeniem/
Raport Kinecentric “Czy to koniec epoki Great Resignation w Polsce? Trendy w zaangażowaniu pracowników” 2022
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