9 Habit Practices that Drive Employee Performance

What really works to drive engagement and performance?

Our team of actuaries and researchers spend our energy and time investigating what drives optimal engagement and performance in an organization.

We dive into behavioral economics, social contagion theory, environmental psychology and more to look at all the factors that contribute to performance. The most common element we have found among these factors is that they are all driven by our habits: the repetitive actions we take each day as employees.

Our actuaries have discovered which habits are worth doing, and how much people perform them to get the optimal return on their “investment” of time and energy.

Over the past 12 years, we’ve uncovered the habit practices that are hidden performance drivers, and the keys to improving employee engagement and performance (among other outcomes).

We call these the Pivotal Habit Practices.

Within each of these practices is a collection of "habit prescriptions" that employees can perform in order to obtain a variety of outcomes.

In no particular order, here is an overview of the Pivotal Habit Practices:


The Practice of Savoring is about appreciating the sunrise on a cold morning, expressing gratitude to yourself and others, and practicing optimism. Although many of us might feel like we are either optimistic or not, like all habits, optimism can be learned through practice. Optimism can even help people perform better at their jobs - optimistic salespeople are 37% more effective than their pessimistic counterparts.


The Practice of Protecting yourself against financial harm, like identity theft or fraud, is one clean and simple practice to follow. By having sufficient insurance set up in your life, you’re removing the question that sits in the back of your head, what if….? Knowing your assets are protected gives you security and gives your brain back valuable time, energy and focus.


The Practice of Fostering positive relationships with others may often be described as cultivating trust at work, having a good culture AND we’ll add the importance of having positive relationships inside and outside of work. Paying for a fellow commuter’s train ride is a simple way to perform a random act of kindness and foster a momentary positive interaction with another human being. Just a few very strong relationships can have a tremendous impact on the longevity of your life and on the quality of experiences you have.


The Practice of Managing your finances is an important one! Learning money management skills and applying them to create a budget and pay down debt is an important, yet often overlooked performance driver. When employees are not properly managing their finances, their stress levels are increased and their productivity declines.


The Practice of Restoring is about giving your mind and body a much needed break, daily. It’s getting enough sleep (7-8.5 hours), managing your stress, limiting your device and screen time (especially at night), AND using drug therapy and medical treatment as appropriate. Restore practices are similar to taking your car in for a tuneup and making sure it’s properly taken care of, except unlike a car, you don’t get a new body after 120,000 miles. You’re stuck with the one you’ve got.


The Practice of Saving for the short-term can reduce your stress about finances because you’ll know you have a security net to support you if something goes wrong. And saving for the long-term means you can live the life you want to live when work ends by planning ahead. Employers who offer 401(k)s as an opt-out benefit make it easy for employees to save for their future.


The Practice of Nourishing is about what you put in your body, which has a huge impact on your energy levels and cognitive function, as well as your long-term health. If your body is a car, then your food is the fuel you put into your car. Nourish your body by eating for optimal performance and health, eliminating toxins and consuming caffeine, alcohol and sugar in moderation.


The Practice of Focusing entails living life purposefully, being mindful of the present moment, meditating and engaging in other mindfulness practices. It also involves focusing your energy on your strengths, by evaluating what you are already good at doing and then actively trying to do more of it.


The Practice of Moving and being active is probably the most pivotal of all practices for it's impact on a variety of factors like cognitive function, error rates and stamina, in addition to all the obvious health benefits. When your employees start taking on the challenge to be more active throughout the workday, you’ll notice a difference in engagement, energy and performance!

If you want to know HOW to get your people to engage in these Pivotal Habit Practices, attend our WORK ROOM workshop.


At WORK ROOM, we dedicate three full days to immersing you in the best practices we’ve found from 10+ years of research and practical application of improving the health, happiness and security of employees. We focus our energy on getting clear about the status quo of YOUR organization and exactly which Pivotal Habit Practices will drive your organization’s productivity to a whole new level. We also spend an entire day exploring human behavior change and the influence methods that work to help employees practice new habits.

You will leave with knowledge worthy of an advanced degree in human behavior and a defined strategy for how to get your employees engaging in Pivotal Habit Practices in a way that also increases engagement, as well as tools to unlock a competitive advantage not yet seen in your industry.

Visit findworkroom.com to register now >



Costs $300 billion / year for U.S. enterprises (Source: World Health Organization)

Garman, Virginia, E.T., Leech, I.E. & Grable, J.E. (1996). The Negative Impact Of Employee Poor Personal Financial. Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education Behaviors On Employers

Garman, E.T. (2004). The Importance of Workplace Financial Education to Employers. American Express Guide to Workplace Financial Education and Advice

Seiz, C. (2015). Times of Trenton guest opinion column By Times of Trenton


Work makes Americans unhealthy, unhappy and insecure

Americans today expect work to be at odds with their personal health, happiness and security.

We spend at least half of our awake adult lives working, which increasingly involves things like eating unhealthy food, staying up late and missing out on time with family.

But why?

Because that’s the standard we’ve set in corporate culture. A company’s "hero" is the person who starts early, stays late and makes work their #1 priority. As individuals we all have an innate desire to succeed, to achieve, to grow, to want to do good and to be valuable. For many of us, our access to the way we want to feel, to our success at work is to be more like the hero.

It was weird, when I started working at Habits at Work, my world was flipped around. I was used to being in the office at my desk at 7 AM and going home at 7 PM. I loved my work and more importantly I loved being great at what I did: beating deadlines and impressing colleagues. When I joined Habits at Work, I was sent a team handbook to read before I started. It mentioned casually how most of the team comes into the office around 10 AM and works from home on Fridays. I thought, "that’s nice to say and we’ll see what really happens when I show up."

One month in I was still coming in at 7 or 8 am and seeing my colleagues come in at 10. I would work and work and work so much that our founder, Andrew Sykes, told me to go home, to enjoy time with my wife and to leave the office. It was hard to do. I felt guilty, even though our culture is about taking care of yourself, and making sure you are healthy, happy and secure SO THAT you can show up to work at your best.

The corporate hero archetype was embedded so strong into me.

It did not take long to understand why Andrew wanted me to go home. He wanted me to work in the ways I worked best and NOT the ways I thought I should be working to impress him or others. It was a freeing feeling, having the autonomy expressly given to me to be conscious about my most efficient work habits which include taking walks, working from home, taking mid-day naps and working at odd times.

In having flexibility with my work, I’ve been able tap into flow more often in my work. I now work smarter, at the times I’m most efficient, avoiding time sucks like peak traffic hours for commuting and unnecessary meetings. By being more efficient and flexible, I’ve also found myself more engaged on a DAILY basis and have avoided those days and weeks where I felt totally burnt out. I show up better every single day because I take care of myself first and the company second.

By flipping the standard of what makes a corporate hero on its head, our team has changed our world of work from one that takes away from our ability to thrive to one that enhances it.

What if we could get other companies to flip the script as well?

That’s the exciting mission my team and I are on. Our focus is on driving company performance by helping change the world of work, one company at a time.


Join us at WORK ROOM Seattle

If you want to know more about how you can begin to change your corporate hero archetype, join us at WORK ROOM, where Andrew and I work alongside business leaders to challenge their status quo while soaking in our 10+ years of research on employee performance and creating their own optimal roadmap for employee performance.

This post was authored by Aaron Levy.

Email: aaron@habitsatwork.com
Connect with Aaron on LinkedIn

Lessons Learned from 99U Local Chicago

Lessons Learned from 99U Local Chicago

Last week I attended a 99U Local event in Chicago. Having attended the yearly conference in NYC a few times, I was thrilled to experience a mini version in my hometown.

The entire focus of 99U is to help make ideas happen, get stuff done, and move past the ideas and inspiration into action. Needless to say, this focus results in a variety of lessons on all things productivity, goal setting, habit and behavior change, mood and collaboration.

Here are my takeaways from the 99U Local Chicago event:

Worth Reading: Articles on Focus and Essentialism

Worth Reading: Articles on Focus and Essentialism

It's funny. The sheer amount of content consumption around here leads to a lack of focus and attention at times. We hop from book to book, article to article, and we keep going down the rabbit hole for fear of missing out or not discovering that one salient point or insight that someone else might find!

It is intoxicating and overwhelming all at the same time. And I'm guessing that you have the same exact problem!

Well, have no fear, I have a few items for you to give your attention to today. If you'll trust me on this, I promise they are worthy of your attention and, in fact, might aid you in the battle of achieving better focus, eliminating distractions and doing your best work.

Strategic rest, renewal and restoration.

Strategic rest, renewal and restoration.

Energy is the capacity people have to do work.

Like time, energy is finite. However, unlike time, energy is renewable.

Strategic renewal, including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations is shown to boost productivity, job performance and health.