Do you have some amazingly energetic, hard working, loyal employees who work long hours and never complain? Do any of your staff members handle additional roles in the community, on non-profit boards, or with service clubs in addition to juggling work and family duties? Do you have some folks working for you who never want to take holidays and even when they do, they continue working from the beach or airplane while their families are forced to amuse themselves without the presence of their breadwinners for hours at a time?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, trouble might be just around the corner!
Every person on earth needs a reasonable and suitable work/life balance. While they might impress you with their industriousness and loyalty and your firm might be reveling in the fruits of their labors, they are probably working toward an eventual, total meltdown.
Every person has a different level of stress that they can comfortably absorb or disregard before they hit an emotional wall.
Some people love their work so much that they do not even consider it work. Those are the people who are constantly smiling while they do their jobs.
Others simply press the outer edges of their emotional control because of insecurity or fear. They are afraid they might let someone down or fail altogether.
Some employees just look stressed-out, weary, or frustrated at all times. These people are on the edge and close to a complete collapse.
You might think that those folks who energetically ply their trade with smiles all day long because they love what they do, don't need or want down-time or an actual holiday. You might think those hard workers who apply themselves with dedication to everything they do are well adjusted and simply more capable than the average human being. You might think that the weary, frustrated people are just lazy or ill suited to their work. In each of these cases the bottom line is that all of these people needs reasonable work/life balance and time off to get their minds, and more importantly, their emotions off of their work.
It is up to managers, supervisors and leaders of all kinds to recognize the symptoms of poor work/life balance and find ways to deal with them.
Leaders must always keep track of over-work situations and must never make any employee feel bad or negligent for taking their fair share of time off. Not only will they be doing their employees a favor by assisting them with this chronic, twenty-first century problem but also in many cases, they will be saving themselves and their companies a lot of lost time and lost revenue.
Even those happy, smiling people who love their work and never seem to tire out need time off.
They might be energized by their work, but their total dedication to their jobs is often damaging to the health of their family and personal lives. Without a happy, healthy life away from work, human beings become unfilled and ultimately, unhappy or depressed. Sometimes the pressures placed on them by their neglected families and friends might be more than their psyche's can handle. If you ignore a happy, hard-worker you might suddenly be faced with an unexpected sick leave, performance dip, or even a resignation from them. The toll taken by total dedication to work has proven to be the undoing of many a potential superstar employee.
Companies of all types and sizes should insist that employees at all levels work reasonable hours and that everyone take the holidays they are allotted each year.
If employees want to work additional hours on a special project, they should be granted additional time off at a more convenient juncture. If they are doing community work that enhances the image of their employer in the community, they should be allowed time during working hours to do it. If they are on holidays, they should be prevented from taking work home with them or from communicating work-related information back to their place of work.
Time off should be considered as important as "time on" in order to assure that employees are happy and healthy well into the future.
If you haven't spent some time reviewing the down time of your employees and you want to keep them on staff and working to peak performance, you should do so now. Have a staff meeting specifically to discuss the human need for time away from work. Emphasize the fact that there is very little honor in diligence that goes so far beyond the norm that it becomes hazardous to future performance. Let everyone know that it is not only the right, but also the responsibility of every employee to take the time off that they are provided. Tell them there will be no extra credit for time-off-not-taken. Most importantly, let all of your employees know that you care about their emotional and physical health.
Good work/life balance is a predictor of longevity and good future performance.
Help your employees to stay emotionally fit by assisting them in finding and retaining the balance they deserve.
All the Best!
Wayne is an author, lecturer and business coach in British Columbia Canada. You can find out more about Wayne and his company at http://www.waynekehl.com/ or http://www.dlionline.ca/