A recent Gallop survey highlights that while employee engagement is on the rise, so is employee stress – resulting in $8.8 trillion untapped productivity opportunity globally. 

Office Hours Insights and Reflections

Every week, as part of the 8020 Excellerate program, we meet for a group coaching call referred to as Office Hours. We have found this to be a powerful platform. The support and accountability our participants receive from the executive coaches and their peers create a safe space to bounce off ideas and discuss challenges, develop self-awareness, and build strong networks that extend beyond the coaching sessions. 

During the calls, we also discuss a specific theme based on new studies, research and common challenges leaders face today. The topic for last week’s 8020 Excellerate Office Hours coaching call focused on managing stress as a leader – and for your team.  

The Gallup article, Globally, Employees Are Engaged but Stressed caught our attention as it outlines the findings from Gallop’s massive survey of 2.2 million employees worldwide.  

It was found that while 20% of employees are actively engaged and enthusiastic about their work, 36% are actively disengaged, and 44% fall into the “not engaged” category.  

The study emphasizes that employee engagement is crucial for organizations to thrive and that employees who are not engaged at work or actively disengaged represent an $8.8 trillion untapped productivity opportunity for global workplaces. 

In terms of workplace stress, the survey revealed that employees globally are experiencing higher levels of stress, with 57% of respondents reporting feeling stressed frequently. The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated challenges have likely contributed to increased stress levels. 

We know that creating a positive work environment that supports employee engagement and well-being requires a multi-faceted approach:  

“Gallup has found that effective management in the more remote and hybrid, post-pandemic workforce involves having one meaningful conversation with each employee once per week that focuses on recognition, collaboration, goals and priorities, and strengths. These feedback meetings can be short (15-30 minutes) if they happen weekly.” 

While it may seem challenging for a busy manager or leader to connect with each employee individually for 10-15 minutes per week, several strategies can help make it more feasible. Consider the following: 

1. Schedule dedicated time.  

Set aside specific time slots in your calendar for one-to-one individual meetings. Treat them as non-negotiable appointments to ensure they are prioritized. Block off a consistent time each week for these conversations.  

2. Prioritize and rotate. 

If you have a large team, it may not be possible to meet with everyone every week. Prioritize employees based on their needs, current projects, or areas that require attention. Rotate the individuals you meet with each week so that, over time, you have regular conversations with everyone.  

3. Combine group and individual sessions. 

Consider incorporating group/team coaching sessions instead of meeting with each employee individually every week. This could involve team meetings where you address common goals, challenges and provide recognition. Follow up with individual conversations for more personalized discussions on specific topics.  If unfamiliar with group coaching — here is a good overview of group coaching benefits and processes.

4. Optimize meeting efficiency. 

Make the most of your time with each employee by being well-prepared and focused. Create an agenda in advance to keep discussions on one or two most essential topics. Encourage employees to come prepared with any questions or topics they want to discuss. If possible, exchange your topics so you both arrive ready for a productive discussion. This ensures that meetings are purposeful, address what matters and are time efficient.  

5. Embrace flexible communication channels. 

In addition to formal meetings, leverage informal communication channels such as instant messaging (Slack or Teams) or quick check-ins. This allows for brief interactions to provide feedback, address any urgent concerns, or connect on a more casual level.  

6. Personalized recognition. 

Each employee is unique, so tailor your recognition efforts accordingly. Get to know your team members and understand their preferences. Some may appreciate public recognition, while others may prefer private acknowledgment. Personalizing your recognition efforts demonstrates that you genuinely care about each individual’s contributions and motivates them to excel. 

Remember, the frequency and duration of these individual meetings can be adjusted based on your specific circumstances and the needs of your team. The key is to find a balance that allows for meaningful and regular communication within the constraints of a busy schedule. 

By the end of our coaching call session, we agreed that we had only touched the surface of the topic and that it warranted a second session to address the relationship between high engagement levels and increased stress. Leaders serve as role models for their teams, and when well-being is a priority, it sends a message to their team members that taking care of oneself is essential for sustained productivity and overall health — this is a critical component of the 8020 Excellerate program. 


Resources mentioned during Office Hours:  

Globally, Employees Are Engaged but Stressed 

Ray Dalio’s work Pain + Reflection = Progress 

Ben Shahar’s book, Happier, No Matter What   

4-7-8 breathing