While discussing employee well-being, the importance of learning to disconnect and detach from work once the work day is over is a topic that has been done to death. Little thought is given to the fact that when employees return to their workplaces they need to be able to reconnect and reattach to their work too. Without being able to do so, it will be impossible to find the energy to get through the day or feel absorbed.
It is true that when employees shut down their computers or pack their laptops and wind up for the day, they wish to rush home and be with their families. They want to relax and enjoy some ‘me’ time, and of course work is the last thing on their minds. Today, corporates try to encourage their workforce to detach from work to find that ‘me’ time, to indulge in hobbies, to pursue other passions and also focus on their own health and well-being. But what managers rarely realise is that if they don’t help the employees reattach themselves to their work, productivity and employee engagement will suffer.
A recent research published in the Journal of Management, explains that workers need to plan their day’s work and be aware of the goals they need to chase. These need not be long-term goals, but short-term ones that will take them to the bigger goals. They need to know which tasks to prioritise and how to begin working. They have to be mentally prepared to reconnect with their work the moment they sit at their workstations. Unless and until they reconnect, they will not be able to contribute anything positive or feel satisfied with what they have accomplished at the end of the day. There has to be more to a work day than just being present in the office. Merely punching in is not enough. There has to be that ‘punch’ in the day too, which can keep the employees engaged the entire day and also motivate them to return again the next day.
Not all employees are able to reattach or reconnect to their work with the same zeal and level of enthusiasm every day. Their efficiency at handling tasks will also vary each day. An employee who goes over the pending work mentally while waiting at a long red light on his commute to work, may be partly prepared with a priority list of tasks. Another worker who manages to wake up early and dress up on time may spend ten minutes out on the balcony thinking of all the tasks that she/he needs to accomplish that day, and be mentally prepared with which one to attack first even while stepping out of his house.
By giving some thought to the day that lies ahead, these employees are able to get into the ‘action’ mode mentally, even before they step into the office. They already decide what they will handle first on reaching their workstation or whom they need to speak with to get something done on a particular day. This helps them save time, which is otherwise wasted in trying to go over the goals for the day and then picking on the order in which they need to be handled. This also makes them feel purposeful, energetic and positive.
This feeling of positivity will definitely rub off on all the people they interact with during the day. Such employees tend to be naturally organised at work, and manage to accomplish more in a normal work day. Their own efficiency and success at being able to achieve their daily targets motivates them and encourages them to progress faster towards the bigger organisational goals. Their commitment and success will definitely inspire others in the organisation. Their level of job satisfaction is also high, which naturally results in enhanced employee engagement.
In the long run, such efficiency, positivity and productivity does well for the individual as well as the organization as a whole.
Clearly, employee engagement depends as much on detachment as on reattachment. May be it is time for India Inc. to start giving serious thought to employees’ reattachment to work. Managers will have to help their team members get mentally organised and prepared to connect with their work for the day when they reach office every morning, and especially after a long weekend. This will help the employees get through the day in a satisfactory manner. A warm-up meeting that lasts about 10 to 15 minutes can be an excellent way to plan the routine for the day. Drawing up a priority list together with the team can ensure that tasks are accomplished one at a time, steadily, taking the employees closer to their individual and team goals.