04/11/2015 - 05:59

Brain science meets business

04/11/2015 - 05:59

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Ensuring staff prioritise their work roles will not only lift overall productivity, it will also reduce mental fatigue.

Switched-on managers ensure their staff members can solve problems more quickly, and be more engaged with their work. Photo: iStockphoto/ bestdesigns

A capable and dependable workforce is vital for any business to be successful. However many workplaces today are reporting increasing levels of disengagement, absenteeism and stress.

To counter this trend, business owners must find a way to get the best out of their staff without causing them to burn out.

While the importance of a physically healthy workforce is well recognised, what has been overlooked until now has been the understanding of the importance of brain health in contributing to productivity, efficiency and performance.

This is where the brain science comes in. By building awareness of how the human brain best operates (based on validated research), savvy businesses can now take advantage of ensuring that their staff members are positioned to think well, solve problems more quickly, and be more engaged with their work.

A ‘brain safe’ workplace

One of the brain’s primary functions is to keep us safe by using the stress response. We either move away from danger or towards safety and potential reward.

Too much stress – as associated with heavy workloads, demanding deadlines, bullying or working with difficult people – results in increased mental distress, anxiety, depression and a corresponding drop in performance.

Alleviating this stress and boosting engagement comes from understanding how to minimise the threat response in others (and ourselves).

Start with trust

All business is based on relationships. While much focus has traditionally been on delivering great customer service, all relationships within a business are important – especially that between a manager and their staff.

Humans are essentially social creatures; we operate and thrive best in tribes where there is a sense of belonging, of mutual respect, and trust. Demonstrating your trustworthiness as a boss by being transparent around your intentions, and providing your employees the autonomy to get on and do the job they know they are capable of, is a great start.

Provide support

Knowing that we have someone to guide and support us in our work is a powerful motivator. Uncertainty is a performance killer, so checking in with staff to ensure they have the clarity around what is being expected of them, and providing encouragement, is highly rewarding.

This isn’t about performance reviews (which are mostly performance killers, too) but about having a conversation inquiring how things are going. When we feel valued and supported we contribute more, are more open to new ideas and more collaborative.

Promote ‘brain healthy’ work practices

One of the biggest brain myths still being perpetuated in the workplace concerns multitasking. We can fragment our attention on several items but only apply selective focus to one. Attempting to multitask results in up to 50 per cent more errors and up to 50 per cent more time taken to complete our work. In addition, it comes with the additional cognitive cost of mental fatigue and reduced memory.

Encouraging staff to prioritise their work and commit to doing one thing at a time – monotasking – is a far more efficient way to produce high-quality work with fewer mistakes in a shorter period of time.

The brain is massively plastic, meaning we can continually adapt to our rapidly changing world by rewiring our thinking. Using this neuroplasticity to our advantage provides us with the means to always be able to learn new skills, embed new habits, work well in a team, develop effective leadership skills and build true organisational health.

This is why brain science is the perfect partner for business.

 

Jenny Brockis (MD)

 jenny@drjennybrockis.com

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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