As the demands of the workplace keep rising, many people respond by putting in ever longer hours, which inevitably leads to burnout that costs both the organization and the employee. Meanwhile, people take for granted what fuels their capacity to work—their energy. Increasing that capacity is the best way to get more done faster and better.
Time is a finite resource, but energy is different. It has four wellsprings—the body, emotions, mind, and spirit—and in each, it can be systematically expanded and renewed. In this article, Schwartz, founder of the Energy Project, describes how to establish rituals that will build energy in the four key dimensions. For instance, harnessing the body’s ultradian rhythms by taking intermittent breaks restores physical energy. Rejecting the role of a victim and instead viewing events through three hopeful lenses defuses energy-draining negative emotions. Avoiding the constant distractions that technology has introduced increases mental energy. And participating in activities that give you a sense of meaning and purpose boosts the energy of the spirit.
The new workday rituals succeed only if leaders support their adoption, but when that happens, the results can be powerful. A group of Wachovia Bank employees who went through an energy management program outperformed a control group on important financial metrics like loans generated, and they reported substantially improved customer relationships, productivity, and personal satisfaction. These findings corroborated anecdotal evidence gathered about the effectiveness of this approach at other companies, including Ernst & Young, Sony, and Deutsche Bank. When organizations invest in all dimensions of their employees’ lives, individuals respond by bringing all their energy wholeheartedly to work—and both companies and their people grow in value.