In a time when well-being discussions are on the lips of a growing number of business leaders, there are also more mentions of the negative impact of the faster pace of the workplace on employees. I addressed part of this when I wrote about avoiding burnout at work, and today I’m thinking about a different impact that comes from the unrealistic expectations of many organizations’ executives. It is the realization that even if organizational leaders are thinking about well-being, what they really mean is addressing it in terms of medical, financial or other benefits. I think the root problem and negative impact comes from the shrinking number of employees that are expected to do more work, and at a faster pace.
In the past month, I’ve witnessed several examples of employees who wear their long hours at work, their continuous availability to their bosses, and their weekly business travel as badges of honor. Now, for some, maybe those are badges of honor. But for the rest of us, there is a real cost to living in that mode continuously. The wear and tear on our bodies and minds are real, and it manifests in stress and physical injuries. These impacts then spill over into our personal lives when we have to deal with the repercussions. Yet, because of the pace of work, we don’t have time to even go to the doctor to take care of solving them. It’s a vicious circle.
“Self care should not have to be a choice at work, it should be the foundation of work.”
I think this disconnect between what the organizational leaders think is the cause of stress and what employees say the case is, demonstrates the chasm that needs to be addressed to positively impact productivity, engagement and retention. As evidenced by a recent Willis Towers Watson survey (below), you will see little overlap in the employee and employer view. Many of the items in the employee view are tactical things an organization can change to make a difference.
The message here is that if you are a business leader, it’s imperative that you seek to understand what really drives your own behavior, as well as your teams’ behaviors. Don’t rely on what you think you already know. ASK them what is causing their stress. You may not be able to solve for everything, but easing the burden on some of the stressors will make a positive impact on their connection to you and the company.