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  FEBRUARY 15, 2013
PUBLIC HEALTH IN THE MEDIA
Relaxed: The Mark of a Productive Employee?
Last week, a NYTimes article suggested a seemingly paradoxical idea. In order to be a more productive worker, you should work less. The article pooled together research from various fields, and the findings revealed that employees who took frequent vacations, worked from home often, took daytime naps, exercised in the middle of the day, and switched off their emails after leaving the office each day actually boosted job performance. The article suggests that the amount of energy employees bring to their work is much more important than the number of hours they log at their desks.

In a productivity study conducted by Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, participants were all those with very high level skills in athletics, music, acting, and chess. Dr. Ericsson found the best performers rarely practiced for more than 90 minutes straight, and that they took real breaks between practice sessions. Dr. Ericsson concluded, “To maximize gains from long-term practice, individuals must avoid exhaustion and must limit practice to an amount from which they can completely recover on a daily or weekly basis.”

The article’s author works in an office that has its own “renewal” room where employees go to relax, rest, and meditate. Employees are encouraged to leave the office for lunch, work from home, and they receive four weeks of vacation from the start of their employment.

Has your School of Public Health done any research on the importance of employee rejuvenation? Email hkileff@asph.org to join the conversation.