TJ interviews: Bridge by Instructure’s Matt Bingham

To cap off Mental Health Awareness Week, we interview Matt Bingham to get the American perspective on stress and productivity.

Workplace stress is an issue that’s getting ever more serious. Why do you think this is happening?

The American workplace is increasingly integrated into people’s lives, and as such, it’s becoming harder for employees to fully unplug and decompress. Adding to this, employers might not be providing the right tools or creating the right atmosphere to help employees achieve the work-life balance they need to reach full productivity and engagement.

In today’s workplace, employees are encouraged to adopt a less-balanced lifestyle as a way to progress in their careers. In fact, in a recent survey, 78% of respondents said working more was at least a moderately important factor in getting promoted.

What can we do about it, in the short term and the long term?

We should invest in our employees. Companies can provide a feedback loop in which managers have frequent one-on-one interactions with employees to provide in-the-moment coaching, help them map out career aspirations, and give feedback on how to get there, which will further improve employee satisfaction and engagement.

Allow balance and account for different types of work to take place at the right times.

As organisations engage with their employees to promote good habits while actively help people feel more connected to their careers, they can reap the benefits of a less-stressed, more focused team.

How can we separate presenteeism from productivity?

Allow balance and account for different types of work to take place at the right times. For example, Friday at 4:00 p.m. is not the right time for an important meeting that requires a key decision.

One way employees are coping with stressful work environments is through distraction. Perhaps not surprisingly, employees are spending a good chunk of their time at the office not working. The workplace stress survey found that, on average, employees spend up to 77 minutes per day watching non-work-related TV or online videos while at work.

Calculating that with the average hourly wage, companies can lose up to $34 per employee per day, or more than $8,800 per employee per year, because employees are busy watching videos. At a company with 5,000 employees, this number could grow to be as much as $44m per year.

The loss of revenue due to lack of productivity may even be more severe, as employees also reported being unproductive for more than a quarter of their day (26%).

Creating a workplace culture in which employees aren’t grappling with excessive stress and have opportunities to unplug not only improves employee wellbeing, but can eliminate potential revenue losses by ensuring employees are replenished and ready to focus on their work.

Clearly all this impacts employee engagement levels. What can staff do for themselves, and how can line managers lead on this issue?

There are a number of strategies to deal with workplace stress, including:

  • Be proactive with managers and leaders. Employees should communicate with managers about their needs and career goals. This will help reduce stress and help them achieve greater job satisfaction. It will also help managers fulfill responsibilities.
  • Stand up, exercise and move. Medical science is clear that moving, standing and exercising is beneficial for physical and mental health. Aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes along with regular standing and moving throughout the day will reduce stress.
  • Disconnect every day. Many jobs have 24/7 busy cycles, so employees can reduce stress by picking a time each day to switch off the phone, put away the laptop and uncouple from the stress of the day. This will reduce stress and increase productivity during work hours.
  • Utilise PTO and sick time. Employees often feel pressured to avoid vacation time and never call in sick, but work absences boost productivity and engagement when employees return. Smart employers are recognizing the need to get away sometimes.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Skimping on sleep interferes with focus and creativity, reduces problem-solving skills and brings down overall productivity. Good sleep habits will also help employees deal with workplace stress.


About the interviewee

Matt Bingham is VP of product at Bridge by Instructure


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