It’s pretty counterintuitive. Companies expect employees to produce the results they were hired to achieve, as they should. But it’s all too easy to get caught up in a mentality of “more.” Pushing them to work faster and harder is often a byproduct of this way of thinking. But what if slowing down was actually the answer?
Generally, creative people understand the value of gaining perspective in their work. Walking away from a script or painting to go away for a long weekend can provide the rejuvenation needed to look at a project with fresh eyes upon return. The result is often a better product. The truth is businesses can benefit from this approach too. If innovation and fresh ideas are what companies desire, it’s important to give employees room to be creative without the pressures of having to simultaneously create.
Slowing down your employees and empowering them with the gift of time can have incredible results. Because employees aren’t used to employers asking them to slow down, you may need to actively structure events that support this philosophy. If you’re going to encourage slowing down, you’ll want to do it in a way that makes them feel secure rather than like slackers.
Here are a few ways to help your employees slow down so that you can speed up your success:
1. Schedule it.
It’s important that your employees understand that slowing down is an actual initiative with a clear purpose. The best way to do this is to have it scheduled. It can be an hour a day or an hour a week. Managers should determine what’s best for their teams. But ask your employees to think of solutions to various problems during these periods. Of course, you can’t ask them to have a solution after just one hour. Instead, let them know that their suggestions will be expected after a specific time frame.
2. Offer a tuition stipend.
Some employers offer tuition reimbursements to employees taking classes that are directly related to their role. However, studying unrelated topics can encourage us to make associations and parallels between things we would have never thought of before. When we give ourselves permission to study unrelated things, our minds have a way of opening up. We see things through a different lens and bring that to everything else. Consider offering employees some sort of stipend, if not full reimbursement, to take classes in unrelated fields. Learning, in general, keeps our brains nimble and plastic. Both are great qualities to have!
3. A dedicated day.
We’ve all heard the expression “what a difference a day makes.” A day spent in pure thought is a luxury. Whether you group employees together or have them work independently, give them a day to tackle a problem or come up with a plan for a new initiative of their own creation. While it should be something you can ultimately execute, let them start thinking without budget constraints in mind. This way their creativity isn’t limited. Once you have ideas that are worth exploring, you can then figure out how to make them work.
Exploration is a great way to continue growing. However, it can be very hard to find the time to invest in personal growth opportunities. While offering employees lengthy sabbaticals may prove to be difficult, offering a few days of a sabbatical that doesn’t require dipping into vacation time is a great way to show you truly value the positive impact slowing down has on your employees and as a result on their work performance.
A little goes a long way when it comes to showing employees that slowing down at times is okay. Maybe you start by having a dedicated day and only offer sabbaticals to those with a specific amount of tenure. But however you go about it, know that rushing to get results is not the answer. Just like athletes need to go through periods of rest and recovery after workouts, so do corporate professionals. If you’re looking to enhance creativity at work and have employees produce stellar outcomes at a sustainable pace, consider showing them the benefits of slowing down…even at work.