Habitual Productivity – The Business Opportunity of Practicing Positive Habits
Habits are your destiny.
That’s the Habits at Work motto.
What you do, you become. You reap what you sow.
It’s said in many ways, but at an individual level the logic is intuitive and attractive and, as we’ve discovered over the years, backed by plenty of research.
For companies, we argue that this truism also holds good.
The relative success, or failure, of a company is determined as the combined product of all the habits that its employees practice, from the CEO to the postman.
But which habits should a company work on and support?
More than 10 years ago, Habits at Work started investigating the link between the daily habits that people practice and desirable health outcomes, like reduced weight and lower blood pressure.
We have since developed the largest extant collection of published research explaining the relationship between habits and health, happiness, financial security and performance outcomes.
Many of our clients wrestle with the performance and productivity conversation.
Many can’t measure productivity and therefore find it hard to accept that productivity improvements can be achieved – or at least demonstrated even if achieved.
But the research here is irresistible, and perhaps less well understood than it should be.
In the absence of research on habits and traditional mechanistic productivity, we believe that performance and productivity at work can be well represented by three independent measures:
- Executive function – our ability to make good decisions quickly, recall accurately using short and long-term memory, plus reaction times, attention and comprehension
- Error rates – our ability to get things right more often
- Stamina – our ability to keep going in demanding times, particularly at the end of the day
Research shows us that there are some great outcomes to consider – for instance:
- Regular movement (avoiding sitting for extended periods) improves executive function by 30%
- Getting adequate sleep reduces error rates by 45%
- Practising mindfulness can improve stamina by 50%, while reducing error rates by 25%.
Our research reinforces the view that different habits create different outcomes.
Therefore, the habits on which companies should focus depend very much on the outcome they are trying to achieve.
But significant beneficial outcomes are available to those companies that can support their employees to choose to practice the habits that drive business success.
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