Most people are familiar with workflows and how they impact our daily lives. From engineers to office workers, workflow management can be found in almost any job. It organizes tasks and plans ahead for future actions. But what most don't realize is its impact on mental health and job satisfaction.
A simple example of this can be seen in a restaurant setting. A well-organized kitchen with the right workflows will lead to greater efficiency and better customer outcomes, which boosts employee morale. But if those same workflows are not managed efficiently, it can lead to delays, mistakes, and frustration that can negatively affect employee morale.
Implementing good workflows and having proper workflow management can help employees work smarter rather than harder while maximizing productivity and job satisfaction.
Workflows and Mental Health
Workflows play an essential role in employees' mental health and well-being, yet have often been overlooked when discussing workplace stress. Recent APA surveys show that American workers across the board saw heightened rates of burnout in 2021, with 79% experiencing work-related stress in the month before taking the survey. The results are staggering, with almost three out of five employees reporting negative impacts of work-related stress. These statistics paint a stark picture of how important it is for companies to prioritize workflow management if they want their teams to succeed.
What Is Workflow Management?
Workflow management is the systematic organization and execution of tasks to ensure maximum efficiency, productivity, and employee satisfaction. By creating repeatable processes that are easily understood and executed, workflow management ensures that all employees can quickly and effectively work together to reach organizational goals.
The goal of workflow optimization is to:
- Reduce errors;
- Increase revenue and profits;
- Eliminate duplication of effort;
- Enhance customer satisfaction;
- Reduce product/service delivery times.
This is done by streamlining existing processes and removing unnecessary steps or procedures while ensuring that all necessary steps are successful.
In recent years many workflow solutions across almost every industry have included the use of automation and AI technology, allowing for even greater optimization in time and resource management.
The automotive industry uses automation to aid the manufacturing of cars, electronics are made using automated technologies, and even the estimation of construction materials can be carefully calculated before a project. By using modern technologies, businesses can increase productivity without sacrificing quality, creating a win-win situation for everyone involved.
How To Manage Workflows To Support Employees’ Mental Health
While it may not seem obvious, a seamless workflow can greatly impact employees’ mental health.
Automate Menial Tasks
Automating menial tasks is a great way to improve workflow and make life easier for employees. This can be especially helpful in jobs that require manual measurements or simple calculations, such as construction, where accuracy is essential.
Fortunately, specialized tools are designed for this kind of work. For instance, construction takeoff apps are AI-powered software that let workers estimate different materials for their projects and save valuable time counting down measurements or doing math in spreadsheets.
Although it’s necessary to do some things repeatedly, too much repetition can lead to burnout. This can be an injury for those working physically demanding jobs, but mental fatigue can be just as damaging. To reduce the need for workers to repeat tedious processes, businesses should focus on automating as many workflows as possible, such as:
- Automating data entry, which saves time when filling out forms or logging information;
- Automating email marketing, which streamlines communication and sends multiple emails simultaneously with ease;
- Integrating a CRM platform with existing systems, which makes it easier for employees to access customer data and respond to inquiries more quickly.
Automating time-consuming tasks allows businesses to help their workers focus on higher-value activities that require more creativity and analytical skills. This can help employees feel more engaged and improve overall morale.
Trying to juggle multiple tasks at once can lead to feelings of overwhelm and frustration as individuals become swamped by an ever-growing list of incomplete tasks that need to be finished. This feeling then increases pressure, leading to burnout and decreased job satisfaction. However, there are several strategies employers can utilize to discourage multitasking and alleviate the need or urge for their employees to take on more than they can handle, such as:
- Setting task deadlines to prevent employees from taking on too many tasks simultaneously;
- Decreasing the number of open projects to bring clarity and reduce confusion about task-level priorities;
- Thoroughly preparing each project with the necessary information;
- Establishing task-level priority lists to identify the most critical tasks;
- Making sure employees take regular breaks when working on multiple projects.
These strategies will help workers stay organized, focused and motivated to achieve maximum efficiency without becoming overwhelmed by the workload.
Check for Errors
Reworking tasks due to errors is a considerable time and money sink, but it's something that most businesses have to deal with. Therefore, employers should set up systems that allow for regular error-checking to reduce the risk of making mistakes or restarting from scratch. This can include things such as data entry processes — which can incorporate spell and grammar checkers to ensure no typos are made during entry — or an automated email service provider, which may have built-in functionality for double-checking recipient addresses before messages are sent.
Businesses can reduce frustration from redoing work, detect errors more quickly, and ultimately help improve efficiency in the workplace.
Incorporate Recovery Time
Taking breaks and setting aside time for rest is essential to maintaining healthy mental states, as it allows employees to reset and recharge. Employers should consider incorporating recovery time into their workflow processes to ensure that their workers get enough rest between tasks.
This can be done by:
- Designating specific times during the day when employees can take a break or focus on other activities;
- Allowing flexible hours, so workers can build work-life balance;
- Having an open-door policy where managers make themselves available to talk about any issues or concerns their employees may have;
- Encouraging workers to take vacations or even just brief periods of rest throughout the year.
With strategies like these, employers help ensure their employees stay motivated, productive, and mentally healthy while also making it easier for them to manage multiple tasks without becoming overwhelmed.
Prioritize Health and Safety
In addition to the workflow strategies discussed above, employers should prioritize staying up-to-date with health and safety standards. This is especially important in more hazardous environments with risks of injury or accidents. Again, AI technology plays a key role by helping companies detect potential risks and alerting them when necessary.
This can include:
- AI-enabled sensors and cameras that can monitor temperature, humidity, dust levels, or chemical fumes to ensure they stay within safe ranges;
- Natural language processing (NLP) systems that can scan documents for possible hazards such as missing safety protocols or incorrect information about products or services;
- Anomalies detection algorithms that can identify unusual patterns or behaviors that may lead to safety issues before they occur.
Employing AI-based tools ensures workplaces are free from hazardous conditions and comply with health and safety regulations. This reduces the risk of accidents and helps create a more productive working environment where employees feel safe and secure.
To drive engagement, businesses need to focus on strategies that promote teamwork, celebrate successes, and sustain employee engagement. Regular team-building activities, such as brainstorming sessions or games promoting collaboration, can help create a sense of camaraderie and foster better communication.
Additionally, companies should also acknowledge individual successes by recognizing hard work and rewarding it with incentives. This could include gift cards for completing a project on time or extra days off for outstanding performances.
Ultimately, workflow management is integral in every business, and AI technology offers a powerful tool to help optimize the process