Earlier this year we ran a culture survey for a public sector client that has a very committed workforce who are passionate about their role in the Criminal Justice System and helping their clients make lasting behavioural change. Most of the survey had very positive results but the one area of concern was around stamina and energy levels; many employees reported that they were exhausted at the end of the week and on occasions found their work overwhelming. In this instance the high levels of engagement were a double edged sword as staff were at risk of jeopardising their own well-being in order to fulfil their role. Many of them were fully aware of the contradiction in this i.e. how could they look after clients if they weren’t at work due to ill-health; however they also struggled to make changes to their own behaviour that they readily recognised as logical and sensible e.g. taking regular breaks, making time for positive activities, compartmentalising work into a finite sized box. The psychology behind this is complex and multi-faceted but neuroscience helps us to understand in a couple of key ways: 1) By making clear the power of habit and how difficult it can be to make changes – regardless of how rational and positive the changes are. 2) Clarifying the differences in thought processes (and therefore behaviour) for an anxious brain as opposed to a relaxed one.
We are continuing to work with the client to help them identify and implement the structural, cultural and behavioural changes that will allow staff to thrive, not just survive, at work