Meetings and emails take the happiness out of work

Jul 03 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

If the thought of yet another meeting makes you want to lower your head to your keyboard, close your eyes and sob, don't worry, you're not alone.

Two thirds of British managers complain that endless meetings and mountains of emails are what drain them the most when they are at work.

Not getting enough sleep (at home rather than at your desk, presumably), too few breaks, eating poorly and a sedentary lifestyle all contributed to workers failing to perform at the level they should, a poll has argued.

The survey of more than 350 HR managers or directors by HR consultancy Chiumento and HR magazine Personnel Today has also found that a simple "thank you" from managers is the quickest and easiest way to put the bounce back into a worker's step.

The research concluded that two thirds of those polled admitted to not having enough energy to feel fully productive at work, with endless meetings and emails blamed as the main culprits.

Those who ate breakfast, got a good night's sleep, exercised on a weekly basis and took regular breaks were by and large better able to cope with work.

Yet, with just a tenth regularly eating lunch away from their desk and only two-thirds taking regular breaks, poor management of working time was clearly hampering productivity, the report argued.

Too many meetings and an endless stream of emails were the biggest drains on energy Ė and time.

Conversely, being appreciated by colleagues and having your work recognised or applauded were the best ways to boost engagement and productivity.

"With nearly two-thirds saying they need more energy to be productive, people need to look at how they can improve their energy levels," said Dr Andrew Hill, director of talent management at Chiumento and author of the report.

"While meetings and emails may be engrained in our business culture, these findings demonstrate that we need to be aware of how much time and energy they cost us. We need to manage them so that they don't drain us," he added.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, not working productively generally led to feelings of frustration among more than eight out 10 of those polled.

Nearly half said they felt stressed and a similar percentage admitted to being bored as a result.

Three quarters felt more motivated when they were working more productively, two thirds felt more and more than six out of 10 felt energised as a result.

Just under half said the greatest impact of increased productivity on their organisation would be happier, more motivated staff, while slightly more than a quarter said it would improve employee engagement.

"With clear benefits to business of productive employees, HR has an important role to play helping staff be aware of the impact of lifestyle choices on their work and helping managers foster an appreciative culture," argued Hill.

Simple tips for improving energy within the workplace included carrying out high-concentration activities away from the phone or email, only checking emails at designated times of the day and avoiding meetings that ran for longer than two hours.