How to use psychology to increase workplace productivity
Here are 5 ways to make your workplace better and your workforce happier.
- "Productivity of work isn't the responsibility of a worker yet of a manager," said famed management consultant Peter Drucker.
- Psychology tells us again and again that emotionally intelligent leadership, which recognizes the humanity in others, is a driving force of productivity.
- Here are 5 simple but effective ways to increase performance and make a positive impact in your workplace.
Managers make the common mistake of setting the same standards for all their employees. The truth is that employees do not think and act the same. When unavoidable circumstances present themselves, each employee will have a different reaction. This concept is known as behavioral economics.
To increase employee productivity, you need to understand their individual needs. However, do not assume your employees have the same wants and needs. Your goal should be to understand the psychology of your employees so that you can come up with ways to make them happier and more productive.
Below are the top five ways to use psychology to increase workplace productivity.
Customized employee appreciation gifts
Employee appreciation gifts can be an excellent incentive to drive your employees to work harder. But don't just issue standard mass-produced gifts that are the same for everyone. If you offer specially customized employee appreciation gifts instead, then your employees will think of them on a more personal level.
For example, if your employees are big baseball fans, you could reward them with baseball trading pins that have their names on them. Perhaps you know of an employee who has been open with you about their desire to quit smoking. You could give them a motivational PVC patch with a message about strength as a way to encourage them toward their goal.
Personalized gestures show employees that you care about their individual interests, struggles, wants, and desires. That gives them greater motivation to do better in the workplace.
Encourage employee feedback
Your team will have a better attitude about their workplace if they feel like they can make a valuable contribution to its organizational structure and how it's being run. If employees have no say in the rules and procedures of their workplace, they could quickly develop resentment toward their managers.
Consider having an employee feedback box in the workplace. It is a box where employees can submit workplace suggestions and criticisms to their employers anonymously. They can fill out a suggestion form and slip it into the box. Then you can review the suggestions and address them accordingly.
Managers often get too narrowly focused on telling employees what needs to be done in the workplace. That's why managers need to acknowledge the accomplishments of their employees because it reinforces the great job they are doing.
If employees never hear any compliments or acknowledgements regarding their positive contributions to the workplace, they might start not to care as much anymore. It will cause their work performance to decline drastically. So, always give praise to your employees when they complete their tasks successfully or make an outstanding contribution.
Encourage break time
Managers who force their employees to keep working long hours without a break are doing a disservice to their company. If employees don't get a break after a certain period, their productivity in the workplace will diminish. You need to encourage your employees to take periodic breaks to rest and recharge themselves mentally and physically.
Offer more work flexibility
The digital age is called the "age of convenience" for a reason. Several research studies show that employees are more productive if their employers give them the flexibility to work from home.
It is easier for someone to get out of bed and hop right onto their computer to get to work. Employees want this kind of flexibility, especially if they have to watch their children at home and cannot afford a babysitter. If you can offer them this kind of flexibility, then it will ease their stress and let them be more focused on their work.
Nazi supporters held huge rallies and summer camps for kids throughout the United States in the 1930s.
- During the 1930s, thousands of Americans sympathized with the Nazis, holding huge rallies.
- The rallies were organized by the American German Bund, which wanted to spread Nazi ideology.
- Nazi supporters also organized summer camps for kids to teach them their values.
A Bund parade in New York, October 30, 1939.
Credit: Library of Congress
Credit: Herald Tribune
Postcards from Camp Siegfried
Partisanship can be seen in brain scans now.
- A new study shows brain activity differs between liberals and conservatives when they watch political videos.
- Brain activity differed between partisans when words tied to emotions, morality, or threats were used.
- The findings could help us understand how partisans process information, perhaps leading to new ways to bridging the divide.
Oh, a study on how the brains of people on the left and right are different! This shouldn't be controversial at all.<p> The <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/10/19/2008530117" target="_blank">study</a>, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compared the stated political opinions of three dozen test subjects to their brain wave patterns while they watched videos about immigration policy. <br> <br> The researchers, led by <a href="https://ycleong.github.io/" target="_blank">Dr. Yuan Chang Leong</a>, determined the participants' ideologies by asking them how much they agreed or disagreed with proposed legislation. Each response was given a score, with lower values attached to stances considered liberal in the United States. </p><p>One such question was, "Would you support legislation that funds a wall along the US-Mexico border to reduce illegal immigration?" Those strongly agreeing were given a high score while those strongly disagreeing got a low score. The scores earned over six questions were used to place the participants on a scale from left to right. The questions had previously been tested on 300 people who identified as liberals, conservatives, or centrists to assure their accuracy. <br> <br> The test subjects then watched the previously mentioned videos.<br></p><p> While the parts of the brain dedicated to collecting sensory information reacted similarly for all of the test subjects, the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorsomedial_prefrontal_cortex" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">dorsomedial prefrontal cortex</a>, a part of the prefrontal cortex that deals with matters of identity, narratives, and morality, of liberals and conservatives reacted at different times. </p><p>Using an fMRI, the researchers saw that neural responses differed between liberals and conservatives as the videos' messages changed. More specifically, the brain's activity was stimulated by its response to messages concerning morality, emotions, or threats. The reactions to these terms were the points of greatest divergence. </p><p>A morality based message might be something like, "What are the fundamental ethical principles that are the basis of our society? Do no harm, and be compassionate, and this federal policy violates both of these principles." A threat-based statement might resemble, "I think it's very dangerous, because what we want is cooperation amongst the cities and the federal government to ensure that we have safety in our communities, and to ensure that our citizens are protected."<br> <br> Participants were asked to rate how much they agreed with each video and how likely it was to make them change their mind on anything after watching them. Curiously, the closer the subject's brain activity was to that of the "average" liberal or conservative of the study, the more likely they were to report that a video supporting those policies could make them change their <a href="https://news.berkeley.edu/2020/10/20/hot-button-words-trigger-conservatives-and-liberals-differently/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mind</a>. </p>
What does this all mean?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hg6XUYWj-pk" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Dr. Leong summarized the findings by <a href="https://news.berkeley.edu/2020/10/20/hot-button-words-trigger-conservatives-and-liberals-differently/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">saying</a>:<br> <br> "Our study suggests that there is a neural basis to partisan biases, and some language especially drives polarization. In particular, the greatest differences in neural activity across ideology occurred when people heard messages that highlight threat, morality and emotions."</p><p>This study suggests that partisanship impacts how our brains process specific terms and that political messaging relying on threat-based or ethics-based language cause partisans to interpret the message in very different ways. This processing also means that people with similar brains to other partisans are likely to be convinced by similar messages. <br><strong></strong></p><p><strong> </strong>The location of the differences in brain function, in the later, higher-level processing department of the brain rather than in the earlier, sensory detecting department, implies that polarization does not affect sensory processing. Additionally, the results do not imply that these effects are hardwired in our brains. </p>
How does it interact with what we already know?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3RsCp-sVl20" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> These findings can be added to the list of studies that show that our political alignments might have something to do with how our brains process information. Non-partisans, often suggested to not be a real group of people, have measurably different brain activity than <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/non-partisan-brain" target="_self">partisans</a>. Brain scans show Democrats and Republicans used different parts of their brains when playing a gambling <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27213-brain-scans-predict-political-party.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">game</a>. <br></p><p>Dr. Leong hopes to use this information to build better models of how the brain processes political information. Perhaps someday, these models can help us understand how to talk to each other without using these trigger words. <br> </p><p>Politics is becoming increasingly polarized in several countries all around the world. The causes for it are still up for debate, and ways to help narrow the gaps between people are still being investigated. An increasing number of studies suggest that some of it comes down to how our brains function. </p><p> While the idea of polarization being tied to how our brains work probably won't come as a comfort to most people, the ability to identify precisely what is happening when people have polarized reactions is a step forward, as it offers a chance to understand what the other side is doing when we disagree. Perhaps someday soon, this will translate to better ways to reach across the aisle and more productive conversations informed by neuroscience. </p>
Tea and coffee have known health benefits, but now we know they can work together.
Credit: NIKOLAY OSMACHKO from Pexels
- A new study finds drinking large amounts of coffee and tea lowers the risk of death in some adults by nearly two thirds.
- This is the first study to suggest the known benefits of these drinks are additive.
- The findings are great, but only directly apply to certain people.
Maybe you should enjoy this article with a cup of coffee or tea.<p> The <a href="https://drc.bmj.com/content/8/1/e001252?T=AU" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> involved 4,923 type 2 diabetics living in Japan. The average participant was 66 years old. All of the participants were taken from the rolls of the Fukuoka Diabetes Registry, a study geared at learning about the effects of new treatments and lifestyle changes on the health of diabetics. <br> <br> The participants filled out questionnaires concerning their health, diet, habits, and other factors. Among the questions were two focused on determining how much green tea or coffee, if any, the participants consumed over the course of a week. The health of the participants was recorded for five years. During this time, 309 of the test subjects died from a variety of causes. <br> <br> Subjects who drank more than one cup of tea or coffee per day demonstrated lower odds of dying than those who had none. Those who consumed the most tea and coffee, more than four and two cups a day, respectively, enjoyed the most significant reductions in their risk of death. This level of consumption was associated with a 40 percent lower risk of <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201020190129.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">death</a>. </p><p>Most interestingly, the effects of drinking tea and coffee appear to combine to reduce risk even further. Those who reported drinking two or three cups of tea a day and two or more cups of coffee were 51 percent less likely to die during the study, while those who drank a whopping four or more cups of tea and two or more cups of coffee had a 63 percent lower risk of <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/diabetes-coffee-and-green-tea-might-reduce-death-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">death</a>. </p>
So, should I start swimming in a vat of coffee and green tea?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LY0E-JQxeoY" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Not quite. </p><p> The primary takeaway from this study is that Japanese adults with type 2 diabetes who drink a lot of green tea and/or coffee die less often than similar people who do not. If this effect is caused by something in the drink, lifestyle choices people who drink that much tea all make, or something else remains unknown. The finding must be considered an association at this point. <br> <br> The eye-popping reductions in mortality rates are compared to the risk of death of others in the study. The people who died reported drinking less tea and coffee than those who lived. Unless you have several demographic and conditional similarities to the subjects of this study, you probably won't suddenly be at a two-thirds lower risk of death than your peers because you drink green tea. </p><p> Like all studies that depend on self-reporting, it is also possible that people misstated how much they consumed any one item. The study also did not look into other factors like socioeconomic status or education level, also known to impact death rates and potentially linked to coffee and tea consumption. </p><p> However, it is yet another study in the pile that suggests that <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">coffee</a> and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">green tea</a> are good for you. That much is increasingly <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/health-benefits-linked-to-drinking-tea" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">agreed</a><a href="https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/health-benefits-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> upon</a>. This study also suggests the benefits are additive, which is a new development.</p><p><br> So, while it isn't time to start the IV drip of green tea, a cup or two probably won't <a href="https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20201022/coffee-green-tea-might-extend-life-for-folks-with-type-2-diabetes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hurt</a>. </p>
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