A new study finds companies that push their employees to become more productive frequently find that their strategies backfire and workers actually become less productive.

A new study finds that allowing workers to step away from their work will make them more productive. (David De Lossy, ThinkStock)

The Energy Project, in conjunction with the Harvard Business Review, studied 20,000 employees and found 59 percent are physically depleted, emotionally drained and mentally distracted because their employers treat them like machines instead of human beings.

“Employees are very different from computers and in order to have balance, managers need to manage the expectations of their employees and they must set the tone from the top,” said Michele Siekerka, president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

She says that’s critically important in today’s world, where everyone is connected 24/7 with smart phones, tablets and other electronic gizmos.

“We have to allow our employees to get off the grid and to get refreshed,” Siekerka said. “They have to re-sharpen the tools as they would say, and that way they can be the most effective when they are in the workplace.”

She said a lot of top-rated companies understand you can’t just push employees like machines.

“They need to be encouraged to take a break from sitting at their desk staring at their computer and  get up, get some exercise, go out for that walk. Sharing healthy habits in the workplace, all those things help to make employees fresher,” she said.

Siekerka said giving workers a chance to step away from their work can ultimately make them more productive.

“When you take the opportunity to care about your employee and have a work environment that recognizes that they need time to de-stress, they are absolutely more productive," Siekerka said. "Any time an employee is happy, any time morale is on the positive side, you get more efficiencies out of your employees.”