By Meera Jagannathan, MarketWatch
It’s not enough to just unplug from your job, a new study suggests.
Mentally prepping for your workday before it begins — also known as “reattachment to work” — is associated with mobilizing job resources you need to pursue work goals and experiencing positive feelings like excitement, energy and determination, according to research published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Management .
Those factors, in turn, predict work engagement throughout the day, help people focus on their goals and, in theory, make your day go faster.
This morning trick, the authors argue, is ‘a low-effort strategy that employees can use in order to start their workday in an optimal way.’
Reattachment, which the study authors describe as “rebuilding a mental connection to work,” can take various forms: They include talking with your partner over breakfast about the work day ahead, cycling through a to-do list or gaming out a tough conversation you plan to have with your boss.
It could involve giving yourself three tasks to do as soon as you arrive at work, preferably those that you’ve been putting off, and giving yourself a reward afterwards: a bowl of oatmeal or a smoothie. Such morning tricks, the authors argue, is “a low-effort strategy that employees can use in order to start their workday in an optimal way.” They analyzed data from a daily survey of 151 participants over 620 days.
“Through reattachment, employees are able to activate work-related goals, which then further creates positive experiences which allow people to be more engaged at work,” co-author Charlotte Fritz, an associate professor in Portland State University’s psychology department, said in a statement .
“Engagement is a sense of energy, sense of feeling absorbed, feeling dedicated to work, and those are all very important motivational experiences that translate to positive outcomes for both employees and organizations,” she added. “They’re more satisfied with work, more committed to work, enjoy work tasks more, perform better and help out more with extra tasks.”
Just 33% of American workers say they feel engaged at work, according to Gallup’s, and 51% report they’re ‘not engaged’ and indifferent.
Just 33% of American workers say they feel engaged at work, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report; another 51% report they are “not engaged” but indifferent, and 16% are “actively disengaged.” That latter category, Gallup estimates, costs the country between $483 to $605 billion annually in lost productivity. Actively disengaged folks are also far more likely than engaged ones to look for new jobs.
Organizations can encourage workers to reattach before the workday starts, the study suggested. Managers can play a part by facilitating some quiet time after workers get in, the authors said, or by having a short discussion to plan out the day. Companies could even provide a brief reattachment checklist for employees, they added.
Mentally reattaching to work is a “complementary experience” to detaching from work, the researchers wrote. Research has linked psychological detachment from work while off the clock to less psychological strain and greater life satisfaction, and found that this detachment didn’t lower employees’ engagement at work.
But workers could use some help unplugging: 52% of Americans still report having unused vacation days by the year’s end, according to a 2018 report from Project: Time Off. And just 27% say they unplug completely while they’re on vacation, an earlier report by the U.S. Travel Association-backed initiative found.