30 Simple Yet Eye-Opening Tips About Work And Life From This Organizational Psychologist
It’s no secret that burnout is one of the most common workplace diseases (along with boredom) in modern organizations. In fact, this recent study found that 95% of human resource leaders admit employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention. So beware of the rapid workforce turnover before you take on a job offer.
It can be easy to normalize working long hours or being under an extreme amount of stress, especially if we’ve been doing it for a long time or all our colleagues are in the same boat. Your work life balance suffers, and every day feels like an infinite 24-hour-long bender you can barely survive, until tomorrow comes.
Luckily, there are ways to save yourself from this misery, and Adam Grant is here to help our lost souls. The organizational psychologist and bestselling author has been sharing advice on keys to a better work life. “You spend a quarter of your life at work. You should enjoy it!” Grant says in his podcast.
Meanwhile, Grant’s Instagram is a real treasure box full of eye-opening tips, tricks and wisdom bites about taming your work and thriving in it, and his 1.5M follower count proves that this is the kind of content we all need.
Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist and bestselling author who explores the science of motivation, generosity, original thinking, and rethinking. Grant has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for 7 straight years. As an organizational psychologist, he is a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning, rethink assumptions, and live more generous and creative lives.
For example, in a piece for The Atlantic titled “People Don’t Actually Know Themselves That Well,” Grant argued that we don’t actually know ourselves, and that other people may be even better at that. Grant wrote that according to sixteen rigorous studies of thousands of people at work, people’s coworkers are better than they are at recognizing how their personality will affect their job performance.
“As a social scientist, if I want to get a read on your personality, I could ask you to fill out a survey on how stable, dependable, friendly, outgoing, and curious you are. But I would be much better off asking your coworkers to rate you on those same traits: They’re often more than twice as accurate. They can see things that you can’t or won’t—and these studies reveal that whatever you know about yourself that your coworkers don’t is basically irrelevant to your job performance,” Grant explained in an illuminating article.
In another wonderful article, Grant argued that procrastination, contrary to our common belief, pays off because of the link between moderate procrastination and creativity. “Although it is widely assumed that procrastination is counterproductive, delaying task progress may have hidden benefits for creativity. Drawing on theories of incubation, we propose that moderate procrastination can foster creativity when employees have the intrinsic motivation and opportunity to generate new ideas,” the organizational psychologist wrote.
The organization psychologist argued that in two experiments in the United States, his team tempted participants to engage in varying degrees of procrastination by making different numbers of funny YouTube videos easily accessible while they were supposed to be solving business problems. The results were astounding. “Participants generated more creative ideas in the moderate rather than low or high procrastination conditions.”
In fact, “employees who procrastinated moderately received higher creativity ratings from their supervisors than employees who procrastinated more or less, provided that intrinsic motivation or creative requirement was high,” Grant concluded.
Grant has also been helping people to destress their work life by explaining burnout culture and giving tips and tools to overcome it. In a 2020 TED talk “Burnout is everyone's problem,” the psychologist announced that a year prior, the World Health Organization declared burnout an occupational syndrome. “According to some estimates, in the US alone, burned out employees cost over 100 billion dollars a year in healthcare spending. More than a third of employees report feeling burned out some of the time. Nearly a quarter feel that way very often or always,” he added.
According to Grant, the core of burnout is emotional exhaustion, feeling so depleted and drained that you just don't have anything left to give your job. “Evidence shows that when we're emotionally exhausted, our health suffers. Burnout has been linked to depression, memory loss, sleep problems, alcohol abuse, weakened immune systems and even cardiovascular disease. Our job performance suffers, too. When we're burned out, we get less done and make more mistakes,” he explained in a talk and added that eventually, we start to think about quitting.
The organizational psychologist suggests that our antidote to burnout is not necessarily less work. “It could be more meaning.” He explained: “In a study of hundreds of professionals keeping daily diaries across multiple industries, the single strongest predictor of engagement at work was a sense of daily progress. What that means in practice is you don't need huge accomplishments to feel good about your work.”
On the contrary, what matters most for building efficacy is small wins. “Often those small wins come from having a positive impact on others. I found in my research that when people feel ineffective, helping others buffers against burnout. It makes them feel competent, which leaves them energized rather than exhausted.”