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Prioritizing Employee Well-Being: Five Japanese Techniques for Overcoming Re-Engaging the Disengaged



As leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure that our employees remain motivated and engaged in their work. Burnout and disengagement can cause a host of problems, including decreased productivity, lower job satisfaction, and higher turnover rates.


In this article, I will explore the importance of self-care and discuss various techniques that leaders can use to overcome burnout and stay motivated. Additionally, I will examine strategies that leaders can implement to re-engage disengaged employees.


The Importance of Practicing Self-care, Avoiding Burnout, and Re-engaging with Your Work


It is crucial for organizational leaders to help their people practice self-care, avoid burnout, and re-engage with their work. Here are several reasons why this is important:

  1. Employees who are burned out and disengaged are less productive and less likely to meet their goals. This can lead to decreased morale, lower job satisfaction, and higher turnover rates. By helping employees practice self-care and avoid burnout, leaders can ensure that their people are engaged and motivated to do their best work.

  2. Burnout and disengagement can lead to mental health and physical health issues. Stress and fatigue can cause a range of health problems, including anxiety, depression, and heart disease. By prioritizing employee well-being, leaders can create a healthier and happier workforce.

  3. Helping employees practice self-care and re-engage with their work can lead to increased innovation and creativity. When employees are engaged and motivated, they are more likely to come up with new ideas and approaches, leading to innovation and growth for the organization.

In short, it is in the best interest of organizational leaders to help their people practice self-care, avoid burnout, and re-engage with their work. Doing so can lead to a more productive, healthier, and innovative workforce.


Five Japanese Techniques to Overcome Burnout and Re-engage with Your Work


Five techniques rooted in Japanese culture and philosophy are simple yet effective ways to improve your productivity and overall well-being.


The first technique is called Ikigai, which means “a reason for being.” This technique involves discovering your purpose in life. It is about determining the reason you wake up each morning and finding something that aligns with your strengths, passions, and the needs of the world. This is what gives life meaning. By focusing on your purpose, you can re-engage with your work and find fulfillment in what you do.


The second technique is Kaizen, which means “continuous improvement.” This technique involves focusing on small improvements every day. You don’t have to do everything at once, just aim to progress little by little. By making small improvements, you can avoid burnout and achieve your goals over time.


The third technique is the Pomodoro Technique. This technique involves working for 25 minutes, taking a break for 5, and then repeating. This helps you stay focused and avoid burnout. It’s a game-changer for productivity! By breaking your work into small, manageable chunks, you can stay focused and productive throughout the day.


The fourth technique is Hara Hachi Bu, which means “eat until you’re 80% full.” This technique involves avoiding overeating and eating until you’re satisfied, not stuffed. By eating less, you can feel more energized throughout the day and avoid the post-lunch slump. Plus, you won’t have to unbutton your pants after lunch!


The fifth and final technique is Shoshin, which means “beginner’s mind.” This technique involves approaching tasks with a beginner’s mindset. Don’t worry about being perfect or having all the answers. Just be open to learning and trying new things. By embracing a beginner’s mindset, you can stay curious and engaged with your work.


Examples of Applying the Five Japanese Techniques


Now, let’s dive deeper into each of these techniques and provide specific examples of how they can be applied in the workplace.


Ikigai: In the workplace, finding your purpose can be challenging, especially if you’re in a job that doesn’t align with your values or passions. However, by focusing on what you’re good at and what you enjoy, you can find ways to incorporate your purpose into your work. For example, if you’re passionate about helping others, you can look for ways to volunteer or mentor colleagues. By finding ways to align your purpose with your work, you can re-engage with your job and find meaning in what you do.


Kaizen: Continuous improvement is essential in the workplace. However, it can be challenging to make progress when you’re overwhelmed with tasks and responsibilities. By breaking your work into small, manageable tasks, you can make progress little by little. For example, if you’re working on a large project, break it down into smaller tasks, and focus on completing one task at a time. By making progress each day, you can avoid burnout and achieve your goals over time.


Pomodoro Technique: Staying focused in the workplace can be challenging, especially with distractions such as email, social media, and meetings. By using the Pomodoro Technique, you can stay focused on your work for 25 minutes and take a break for 5. During your break, you can check your email or social media and then return to your work refreshed and focused. By using this technique, you can avoid burnout and increase your productivity.


Hara Hachi Bu: Overeating can lead to sluggishness and decreased productivity in the workplace. By eating until you’re 80% full, you can avoid the post-lunch slump and stay energized throughout the day. For example, instead of eating a large lunch, try eating a smaller meal and snacking on healthy foods throughout the day. By eating less, you can stay focused and productive in the workplace.


Shoshin: Approaching tasks with a beginner’s mindset can be challenging, especially if you’re an expert in your field. However, by embracing new ideas and approaches, you can stay curious and engaged with your work. For example, if you’re working on a project, try brainstorming new ideas and approaches with your team. By embracing a beginner’s mindset, you can stay open to new ideas and approaches and avoid burnout.


These Japanese techniques are simple yet effective ways to overcome burnout and re-engage with your work. By finding your purpose, focusing on continuous improvement, using the Pomodoro Technique, eating until you’re 80% full, and approaching tasks with a beginner’s mindset, you can improve your productivity and overall well-being. Remember, you don’t need to learn all these techniques at once. Start with one and see how it works for you.


Strategies Leaders Can Use to Re-Engage Disengaged Employees


Building on the five Japanese techniques above, leaders can use several strategies to re-engage disengaged employees. Here are some effective strategies that leaders can use:

  1. Understand the root cause of disengagement: The first step in re-engaging disengaged employees is to understand the root cause of their disengagement. Leaders can use surveys, interviews, and focus groups to gather feedback from employees and understand what is causing their disengagement.

  2. Provide opportunities for growth and development: One of the most common reasons for disengagement is a lack of growth and development opportunities. Leaders can provide employees with training, coaching, and mentoring programs to help them develop new skills and advance in their careers.

  3. Foster a positive work environment: A positive work environment can go a long way in re-engaging disengaged employees. Leaders can create a culture of positivity by recognizing and rewarding employees for their achievements, promoting work-life balance, and encouraging open communication and collaboration.

  4. Set clear expectations and goals: Disengaged employees may feel overwhelmed or unsure of their role in the organization. Leaders can help re-engage employees by setting clear expectations and goals, providing regular feedback and coaching, and celebrating progress and milestones.

  5. Encourage employee autonomy and ownership: Disengaged employees may feel like they have little control over their work. Leaders can re-engage employees by encouraging autonomy and ownership, allowing employees to take ownership of their work and make decisions that impact their role and the organization.

Re-engaging disengaged employees requires a multifaceted approach that involves understanding the root cause of disengagement, providing growth and development opportunities, fostering a positive work environment, setting clear expectations and goals, and encouraging employee autonomy and ownership. By implementing these strategies, leaders can create a culture of engagement and motivation, leading to a more productive and successful organization.


Conclusion


Self-care and avoiding burnout are crucial for a successful and innovative workforce. As leaders, it is our responsibility to prioritize our employees' well-being to prevent disengagement and burnout. By providing opportunities for growth and development, fostering a positive work environment, setting clear expectations and goals, and encouraging employee autonomy and ownership, leaders can re-engage disengaged employees and create a culture of engagement and motivation. Furthermore, by implementing Japanese techniques such as Ikigai, Kaizen, Pomodoro Technique, Hara Hachi Bu, and Shoshin, individuals can overcome burnout and stay motivated. Remember, prioritizing employee well-being is the key to a productive and successful organization.

 

Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.



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