Executive Function in the Workplace

A person working on the computer and drinking coffee.

Executive function strategies are not only relevant in the academic lives of students. As students develop, they will also see the importance of executive function in their personal and professional lives. Labor Day is a fitting holiday to examine where executive function shows up in the workplace. But first, what is Labor Day, and what does it celebrate?

Origins of Labor Day

For many people, Labor Day marks the end of the summer and the transition into autumn. Established as a legal holiday in 1894, Labor Day celebrates the social and economic achievements of American workers. According to the United States Department of Labor(link opens in new tab/window),

The holiday is rooted in the late nineteenth century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.

EF in the Workplace

Operating successfully in the workplace relies on skills that require a high executive function demand. This can range from understanding the perspectives of coworkers (cognitive flexibility) to working on multiple long-term collaborative projects at the same time (organizing and prioritizing) and seeing tasks through each step to the end (goal setting).

Adults often find that certain challenges they faced in school still apply in the workplace. For example, difficulty getting started on tasks and missing deadlines are common academic challenges that might resurface in a professional setting. It is important to develop a strong understanding of one’s strengths and challenges as well as strategies that build on strengths and improve challenges.

Strategies for EF in the Workplace

  • Explore organizational systems established by your colleagues to discover options that might work for you.
  • Recognize your strengths as a learner and employee, and leverage your strengths to overcome your challenges.
  • Remember to ask questions and to ask for help when you need it. Self-advocacy is as crucial in the workplace as it is in the classroom!

From all of us on the SMARTS Executive Function Team, we wish you a relaxing Labor Day Weekend and a smooth start to the school year!

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

MARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org