Back in the day, everyone wanted a career in banking. It was a prestigious title, and "banker's" hours were so enticing. Community banks now have been forced to adapt and change to fit into a high-touch customer environment. In order to distinguish themselves, survive, and evolve, community banks have had to adapt in order to attract and retain customers. We are now accessible to customers 24/7 via email, online chat, social media, cell phone, and text message. 

To keep up with high-touch evolution, we now find ourselves burnt out wearing many hats. Banking has become an undesirable job industry making it difficult to attract new talent, stay happy, and retain new hires. How can we unglue ourselves from our computer screens and stop eating lunch at our desk? How can we unplug and still get everything done without letting anyone down? 

For now, to be competitive and different from large institutions, we are often not able to change our 24/7 banking hours. This high-touch trend can hinder productivity, increase stress, negatively impact wellness, and decrease office morale and happiness. This impacts the office as a whole, as well as each individual. The goal is balance and to find ways to have both productivity and happiness. 

Providing a break-friendly culture, with a designated fun place to unwind, unplug, and socialize, is a great way to encourage people to unplug. Bring in non-traditional bright colored seating, fun mini basketball or golf games, and a nice variety of beverages and healthy snacks. Offering fresh fruit can be a huge pick-me-up, as well as fostering workplace wellness. Having an area with pub tables and chairs will encourage workforces to unwind and socialize with others vs scrolling on their phones by themselves. 

Respect each other's break time by not interrupting with business talk or customer phone calls. Studies show employees who disconnect can return to work feeling less distracted. This results in achieving more tasks, procrastinating less, and better time management. Create a lunch crew walk to encourage group comradery and an opportunity to enjoy the weather and sunshine. 

We can encourage each other to disconnect from work throughout the day. Organize ways to connect outside of work by volunteering or simply going out to dinner together. Maintaining proper work/life balance can impact happiness, workplace engagement, and productivity. If we can't disconnect from work, we decrease the quality of the break, therefore impacting the ability to recharge and fully take our minds off of work. Creating a break-culture in the workplace leads to happier and recharged employees and a highly productive workforce.

Lead by example, recharge and encourage others to find ways to engage to create happiness!

Morgan is SVP – retail banking at Citizens State Bank, La Crosse.