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February 8, 2022

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Workplace wellbeing

5 toxic workplace habits affecting employee wellbeing 

New research by Bupa has revealed five toxic workplace habits harming employee wellbeing, including ‘chronic procrastination’ and ‘workplace stress’. Lauren Gordon, Lead Behavioural Insights Advisor at Bupa, gives tips on how to overcome toxic habits.

Returning to workWith so much change in the workplace over the last few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees may have found themselves falling into negative working patterns. These toxic traits, like working too many hours or skipping a lunch break, could have a huge impact on wellbeing, job satisfaction and productivity. 

Research from Bupa has identified the biggest toxic habits to avoid this year, with employees turning to Google for advice on coping with harmful working environments:

  1. 53% increase in Google searches for ‘chronic procrastination’

Procrastination is the habit of delaying an important task. There are lots of reasons why we might put off completing a task at work. It might be that a task feels too big or that isn’t challenging enough. It could also stem from mental health issues, such as stress and anxiety. 

With so much change to our working lives over the past year, our usual work behaviours and routines have been disrupted. This is causing many employees to feel anxious, stressed and underwhelmed in their working lives – which can lead to chronic (long-term) procrastination. 

  1. 50% increase in Google searches for ‘multitasking’

Multitasking is completing more than one task at a time, dividing attention, and ultimately making it harder to focus. This can lead to lower levels of efficiency at work and increase the chances of making a mistake. 

Over the past year, many employees may have found themselves multitasking more than usual. This is particularly true for working parents who had to juggle their home and work life during lockdown.

With businesses also going through such a huge period of change, lots of people found their workloads increasing too.  

  1. 30% increase in Google searches for ‘workplace stress’

The pandemic has taken its toll on our mental health and it’s no surprise that employees are increasingly experiencing work-related stress. High workloads, longer working hours and a lack of stability in a job can all lead to workplace stress. 

During the peak of the pandemic, research by Bupa revealed that over one in four employees reported that their workload had a negative impact on their wellbeing. Everyone reacts to stress differently, but common signs of work-related stress are withdrawing from work and colleagues, increased absence, lower productivity, and motivation levels.

  1. 22% increase in Google searches for ‘signs of burnout at work’

Work burnout is caused by feeling overwhelmed or being under too much pressure at work for a long period of time. 

For some employees experiencing burnout, the boundaries between work and home can become blurred, making it harder to switch off from work and find a work-life balance. 

We know that work can have a huge impact on our mental health and it’s no surprise many employees have experienced burnout in their working lives. Multiple lockdowns, remote working and social distancing restrictions have led to many feeling a loss of control – both at home and work. 

  1. 14% increase in Google searches for ‘decision fatigue’

Decision making is a cognitive process which can leave you feeling exhausted – especially when it comes to making bigger business decisions. As a result, employees can experience decision fatigue – where the ability to make high-quality decisions decreases after a series of choices have already been made. 

Feeling exhausted, making more mistakes, and experiencing brain-fog are all symptoms of decision fatigue and can lead to lower levels of productivity. Due to the pandemic, many employees have had to make more new decisions each day over the past year – increasing the likelihood of experiencing decision fatigue. 

Below are 5 positive habits employers should adopt in 2022 to support employee’s wellbeing, according to Bupa:

  1. Collaboration is key

With an 83% increase in Google searches for ‘effective teamwork’ last year, there’s no better time for collaboration. There are lots of ways you can collaborate effectively, from working on shareable documents to regular catch ups (in-person or over the phone). As a manager, you can set standards of collaborative behaviour and lead by example. 

  1. Promote a work life balance

A positive work life balance helps to reduce work related illness, such as stress and anxiety.

27% more people searched for ‘work balance’ towards the end of last year, so encourage your team to spend the evenings doing activities or hobbies that bring them joy or spending time with friends and family.

  1. Support your employees with their work set up

Research from Bupa revealed 11 million UK employees experienced injuries as a result of working from home during 2020. If your team is working from home, check in with your employees, ask if extra equipment might be needed such as ergonomic chairs or laptop risers to improve their set up. 

  1. Communicate with your team

There has been a 22% increase in searches for ‘effective communication’ on Google last year.

Effective communication supports teamwork, collaboration and productivity at work. As a manager, you can lead by example and encourage your team to make time to chat during the day to help them to feel connected.  

  1. Encourage resilience techniques

Google searches for ‘resilience in the workplace’ have increased by 23% over the last year.

Resilience is a key part of employee wellbeing and helps employees to bounce back from adversity. As a manager, it’s important to understand how to support your team with building their resilience.

Being available to talk through any worries and concerns, as well as providing access to support, such as Employee Assistance Programmes can help. 

For SHP’s guide to homeworking, click here. 

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