If our brains could talk, they’d be asking us the same question. Why aren’t we leveraging neuroscience to increase productivity, and to reduce overwhelm and burnout? Why do we insist on rigid schedules, long hours, and other things that work against us?
It might be traditionally acceptable to glue your eyes to the computer screen from 6am to 10pm without a break, running from one appointment to the next, but it makes you tired and unproductive. Our brains aren’t designed to function that way! Even our physical workspace
can be counterproductive.
If you want long-term success, don’t reward your employees for working late hours and sacrificing their vitality to make your company great. Instead, use these five tips to leverage neuroscience to support your employees’ productivity, health, and happiness: 1. Eliminate distraction in the workplace
Supporting employees requires training them out of habits that decrease productivity. Nothing decreases productivity more than distraction, and the workplace is filled with it.
Hilary Scarlet, author of Neuroscience for Organisational Change
, points out the counterproductive nature
of the modern office: “The workplace is the opposite of what our brains need. We’re receiving pop-up notifications from email, messages on our mobiles, we’re expected to be always accessible, we’re hot-desking. Even remote working can be detrimental to some extent – we hugely underestimate the importance of social connection.”
To work in harmony with the brain, stop supporting distractions that encourage neurotic behavior. Push notifications, alarm bells, text message and email notifications, app notifications, random meetings, shoulder taps, and roping employees away from their lunch for a “quick minute” need to be eliminated. 2. Transform the way your company brainstorms
Hosting a brainstorming session sounds normal, but have you ever noticed how unproductive these sessions really are? Traditional brainstorming doesn’t work in harmony with the brain’s natural rhythm. An article from Qmarkets explains
, “An empirical study by the Yale University showed that students working on ideas by themselves were able to come up with roughly twice as many solutions – judged to be more feasible and effective – as brainstorming groups, when given the same challenge. As it turns out, an overwhelming amount of evidence shows unequivocally that brainstorming groups produce fewer and poorer quality ideas than the same number of people who work alone ideas and later pool them.”
Support your team by switching to a digital brainstorming platform, and allow people to brainstorm on their own. Many people have a difficult time cognising and expressing their ideas in large groups. Digital brainstorming removes this barrier and lets their creativity flow. 3. Discourage multitasking because it doesn’t exist
Employees are expected to multitask, but in reality, multitasking is impossible. What they’re really doing is task switching – the biggest distraction of all. Neuroscience proves
that task switching causes our brains to burn the majority of our glucose, causing severe fatigue. The brain uses more energy to stop and start again hundreds of times throughout the day than it does to finish one task completely and move to the next. Also, task switching develops random, neurotic behaviour that becomes increasingly difficult to stop.
Sadly, “multitasking” is seen as a strength and has become a required “skill” by many hiring managers.
If you’re praising your employees for their multitasking skills, you’re reinforcing a bad habit that’s actually burning them out. Encourage them to complete one task before moving to the next and you’ll see their productivity and energy levels soar. 4. Train your staff out of neurotic behaviour A 2016 study
released by Deloitte found that across all age groups, US consumers check their smartphones 46 times per day. US consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 check their smartphones a whopping 74 times per day.
This neurotic behaviour is considered normal, and that’s why it’s such a big problem.
Business owners and managers only encourage this neurotic behaviour by expecting employees to always be available via their smartphones. 5. Help your remote workers organise their time
Although research shows remote workers are the happiest and most productive employees, it’s not the freedom itself that produces results. The highly productive remote workers have routines that support their efforts, often developed over years of experience working as independent contractors. They know exactly how to use their time to meet and exceed their goals.
Don’t look at the statistics and hire a remote workforce, expecting their productivity to be superhuman. If they don’t have a routine yet, use the principles of neuroscience
to help them develop a routine that supports their intended outcomes.