• Ali H.

Designing team recovery, a priority of future work

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

Unsurprisingly, with the increased blurred work-home balance, you and your team may be insufficiently recovering from work. Workload and over-commitment have been shown to hinder employee health and performance. Work-related rumination has been associated with harmful impacts on employees, such as burnout, lower job satisfaction, and engagement. So, it is certainly worth delving into for you and your team. Consider any high performing sports team that enters a fixture under-recovered; you are unlikely to see them at their best. The same holds true for our work teams; insufficient recovery will unlikely help anyone perform well. Drawing intervention focus on disconnecting our teams at the right time could significantly impact their wellbeing, engagement, and overall performance.

There are many interweaving aspects to recovery from work; here are a few terms you should know and recognise if they are present within your team and should help with designing team recovery.

  • Leaveism, in a nutshell, is the employee using their own time to catch up on work, or book out the time when infact unwell.

  • Presenteeism, employees coming to work when unwell.

  • Over-commitment, an excessive striving, as well as combining the strong want for approval and esteem.

  • Work-related Rumination considers a continued state of preoccupation with past or future work events.

  • Psychological detachment, having the ability to switch off when not at work and being able to get involved in other activities other than work.

  • Integrators, are people who blur the line between work and home life. They are often quite comfortable juggling between the two throughout the day.

  • Segmentors will do the opposite of Integrators. They will create rigid barriers to prevent work from slipping into their home life. Even to the extent of separate calendars.

Hindrance demands can impact our ability to recover. Rather than looking solely at workplace support, consider the development of a leader that can identify recovery needs, and then design recovery in at the right time. This could be an essential skill for any leader. We are seeking to break the link between possible harmful work aspects and the employee. So, in essence, we want our teams to be able to recover from their daily work demands.

When considering the aspects of recovery interventions;

Identify the source of the problem; what is preventing your team from recovering from work? Be prepared to understand the individual too; are they an Integrator or Segmentor? Are your team taking time off and disconnecting? Are they working early, late, or over the weekend? Do they work when unwell or try and catch up on their own time? Could you identify when you need to step in to remove hindrance aspects of work? What resource can you design in when you know there will be more pressure and demands? Culture can play a massive part in this, but leaders at all levels can work smarter with their teams, develop trust!

Leaders need the support of the organisation to be able to intervene effectively. Organisations should look to facilitate resources to leaders when they need to apply them. Get creative with support functions. It’s worth it; people tend to remember the organisations that made them work under-resourced until they broke.

Organisations need to recognise the demands and pressure that teams are under at the right time; a busy period should not be a reason for people to overwork. Organisational leaders need to recognise when they are likely to see an increased workload and ensure appropriate distribution or additional resource is made available.

Encourage the team to set out boundaries. Develop, and celebrate psychological detachment, establish how the team disconnects and recover and ensure teams are built around it. It is a skill to learn but also needs to be facilitated by the organisation. This has been shown to support higher levels of creativity and engagement. This can have a positive impact and reduce the effects of job-demands and possible burnout.

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