Efficiency at work

Cognitive Well-Being at Work: Why It Is Important

Gabrielle Brassard-Lecours - 37e AVENUE

Why is it important to keep your mind at ease at work?
How do you achieve this?

Some explanations from a neuroscience specialist.

According to the Association québécoise des neuropsychologues, cognitive functions are mental processes that allow us to communicate, perceive our environment, concentrate, remember an event or acquire knowledge.

Therefore, cognitive well-being refers to a situation where we feel mentally fit at work, which in turn helps us exercise our intellectual functions.

Neurocognitive well-being is the more appropriate term,” explains Sofia El Mouderrib, a doctoral candidate in neuropsychology, as well as the co-founder and chief executive officer of Nev, a firm that uses neuroscience to help companies meet their business needs.

Watch out for errors

When your neurocognitive well-being at work is compromised, it can affect your memory, concentration, decision-making and planning.

“When you work as a knowledge worker, a job that mainly requires intellectual competencies like knowledge mobilization, creativity and problem-solving, it is crucial that you work in an environment that is favourable to your neurocognitive functions,” explains Nev’s CEO.

She adds that when knowledge workers work in less favourable conditions for using their neurocognitive functions, they may make mistakes, such as poor hiring decisions or incorrect financial analyses.

Spotting the signs

How do you know when a situation is not conducive to intellectual work? Typically, workers will notice a feeling of exhaustion when they try to think, fuzzy-headedness or muddled thoughts.

They may also experience memory lapses or be distracted more easily. In addition, they may take unnecessary risks. “When your neurocognitive well-being is deficient, you become dissatisfied with your productivity and embarrassed by your mistakes. You feel frustrated with yourself. All of this can lead to absenteeism or presenteeism,” explains Sofia El Mouderrib.

Creating a favourable environment

To improve your neurocognitive performance, you must first recharge your batteries. Examples include taking real breaks at lunchtime and ceasing to think about your work when you leave the office. You should also make sure that you get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet.

“Stress greatly affects cognitive well-being. Acute stress (i.e. short periods of high stress) and chronic stress (i.e. prolonged stress) can reduce the effectiveness of your neurocognitive functions. They lead to mental fatigue, even burnout and depression,” says Nev’s CEO.

Physical exercise, yoga and meditation are invaluable tools for managing stress and improving your neurocognitive well-being. You should also make sure that you limit distractions and interruptions, such as by turning off notifications from apps on your smartphone and your computer. You should also protect yourself from ambient noise by wearing noise-cancelling headphones, for instance. Your brain will thank you for it!