Jan 10, 2023

Redefining Productivity: You are more than you produce

3 Tactics to Keep Remote Workers from Burning Out

New hybrid working models require a new definition of productivity, and our Living Lab research helped us develop ways to do that.

In the second half of 2022 a new term entered our lexicon. “Quiet Quitting.” It quickly took off with thousands of workers posting their stories online.

Quiet quitting is essentially doing the bare minimum at work. For some it might mean mentally checking out. For others, it’s not accepting more work without more pay.

Peeling back the layers behind quiet quitting, however, reveals that rather than a trend or fad, this is a symptom of burnout. Quiet quitters are just doing what burned out employees always have – phoning it in. That’s because employees – especially those in remote environments – have become increasingly frustrated with quiet quitting’s counterpart: “Invisibly Contributing.”

For decades prior to the pandemic, managers had a visible line of sight into daily contributors. Work was seen, contributions were acknowledged, and business moved forward.

Today, that’s all different. Employees feel like they’re putting in the effort, but they’re not seeing any of the reward. No recognition, and their work disappears into a virtual vacuum without a clear indication of how it’s positively impacting the company. Continued “invisibly contributing” causes gradual burn out. And quiet quitting is the product of burnout.

To counteract the current burnout cycle, organizations need to redefine what productivity means for their hybrid strategy. Here are 3 ideas that can help.

Engaged, Connected, Fulfilled: 3 Ways to Redefine Productivity

1. Go Beyond Traditional Metrics
Traditional productivity was measured in deadlines, hours, and output. While those won’t disappear, hybrid organizations should bring new metrics and norms into the discussion. How do you promote cultural connection, social belonging, and boundary setting? It’s equally as important to evaluate how the organization delivers feedback and provides mentorship.

2. Communicate Often and Informally
It’s hard for managers to see their employees burned out in hybrid environments. Weekly 1:1’s may help, but too often those can trend towards performance, upcoming projects, and deadlines. Without physical sight, managers should hold more informal check ins with their reports. Encourage them to speak freely and openly. Be on the lookout for signs of burnout.

3. Clarify Expectations
One of the leading causes to employee burnout is feeling like contributions are disappearing into a virtual vortex. Be clear with employees about how they’re expected to work within their teams. Establish defined roles, norms, and operating procedures. Then back all of that up with validation and recognition.

Conclusion:

We all want to feel like we’re more than what we produce. Creating an environment that fosters skill and contribution over production can reframe how employees measure their contributions. The result: more connection and engagement, and less burnout.

For more insights from our Living Lab, follow One Workplace on LinkedIn and see the research overview here.