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Feeling sluggish on the job? After-work activities might help

Employees looking to get a better night’s sleep and feel more productive the next day at work should turn to after-work activities like reading, going to the gym or volunteering, a new study suggests.

The research, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, looked at the ways after-work activities of employees shaped their proactive behaviour and motivation at work the next day.

Lead Australian author Professor Sharon Parker, from Curtin University’s Future of Work Institute, said after-work activities like hobbies and sport have a knock-on effect for quality of sleep and how workers feel the next morning.

On the flip side, conflict with family members, additional work demands at home, disciplining children and chores negatively affected someone’s proactivity at work.

Parker said employees and managers needed to be aware of how their personal activities might influence their work performance.

“How we feel at work impacts our proactivity, which helps create competitive, dynamic and fast-changing work environments, and translates to better work results and career success.”

But beware of going too far – the researchers said too much relaxation or detachment after work, while contributing to feelings of calm the next day, did not give people the energy and confidence boost needed for next-day proactivity.

Parker said the research suggests that managers and organisations could run workshops or seminars to help employees better understand the relationship between their personal lives and their daily work.

“It may also be beneficial for managers to take measures to help employees cope with negative experiences that occur outside of work and accept that employees’ proactive behaviour fluctuates from day to day. If managers have more reasonable expectations of their employee’s proactive behaviour, then they will be better equipped to respond to an employee’s change in proactivity.”

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