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Some employees are working too hard

Date posted:  10/17/14 06:45:00 AM Are any of your employees working too hard? They might be hurting their wellbeing.

It's hard to find fault in someone that's busting their hump in the workplace, but can employees work themselves too hard? It's a growing concern for many business owners across the nation as a spotlight is now shining brightly on the well-being of employees‡.

According to HC Online, a Human Resources news outlet, employees that are working too hard might help their respective companies in the short term, but these workers are likely to burn out quickly as their well-being deteriorates from their nonstop work ethic.

Sarah Robb, Google's head of people operations in Asia Pacific, told HC Online that some Google employees are overworking themselves because they feel so invested in the company. Google carries a reputation as one of the top workplaces in the country, and that carries major weight in the competitive technology industry.

At Google - unlike some other companies notorious for overworking their employees - employees were not overworking themselves due to pressure from management.

"We're finding from the employment survey that well-being continues to be a source of concern, but interestingly, managers are supportive of well-being," Robb said. "They are self-inflicted issues."

Robb asserted that many of Google's employees felt like they had a stake in the company, which was a main reason for the company's success. Yet there's a difference between an employee working rigorously and working too hard. The latter category often burns out employees unable to keep up the pace, which in turn hurts the company they are working hard for.

"These people don't want to take their feet off the gas pedal because they feel like owners," Robb said. "We haven't found the balance yet. It's not sustainable."

Keeping workers stress-free
But how does a stressed out worker impact a company?

Stressed and unhealthy employees are more likely to be late to work, take a greater number of sick days and be less productive during their time at the office, according to CareerDC, a professional development and consultancy firm.

Burnt out employees also have a greater intention to quit the company than those who are less stressed.

CareerDC said one method to lower stress levels in the workplace is to get employees active and moving. Active employees typically have fewer health problems‡, experience less stress and are more productive in their day-to-day lives.


Investing in wellness
CareerDC reported that companies should consider offering their employees discounted or sponsored gym memberships. Managers can also prompt interest in fitness by offering team or individual challenges and fitness goals, though that doesn't mean they should make people bench press, run timed miles or have pull-up contests.

CareerDC said that some companies are providing their employees with pedometers, and the team or individual with the most steps recorded by the end of the week earns a prize. Creating fitness challenges as a team can also promote a better workplace atmosphere where employees feel engaged.

"Companies can and should invest in wellness," David Niu, founder of employment engagement firm TINYpulse, told HC Online. "HR leaders can advocate for cost-effective ways to incorporate wellness into the corporate culture."

Niu said a company in New Zealand, Stoneridge Vineyards, teaches its staff yoga. In Australia, BodyBolsters holds regular meetings with workers in gym clothes, allowing them to stretch and try out new exercises together.

He believes creating social interaction in the office can boost collaboration and reduce stress.

CareerDC is also urging employers to provide healthy snacks at the workplace. It said some companies negotiate deals with a local sandwich shop or deli to provide discounted meals or free delivery every day.