Are You the Role Model for Unhappy Workaholic Employees?
Tony Schwartz, president of The Energy Project, conducted a survey of 19,000 employees in conjunction with the Harvard Business Review.
The news was sobering: Only 25 percent of leaders model sustainable work practices.
But there was some good news: employees with leaders who model good work practices reported being 55 percent more engaged and 77 percent more satisfied at work. They were also 72 percent more likely to report a sense of good health and well-being.
What does this mean? If you look around your office and see a bunch of unhappy workers: you could be to blame.
To achieve lasting high performance from your team, be a role model in four key areas:
1. Make Renewal a Priority
Steve Tappin, author of “The Secrets of CEOs,” says being a CEO should come with a health warning.
Leaders tend to neglect sleep and exercise – and they often eat what’s convenient, not what’s wholesome and healthy. “They lead to stress and cortisol in the body, which leads to accelerated aging, heart attacks, and cancer,” Tappin told CNN. If you’re working yourself to the bone while neglecting your physical health, you’re implying that you expect the same obsessiveness from your employees.
Start by taking scheduled 10-minute breaks during the day, just to refresh your mind. Add 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise to your day — anything that gets your heart pumping. Start going to bed at a scheduled time, no matter what, even if you still have work to do. And talk to your employees about your efforts to get healthier; you might inspire them to do the same.
Here are some additional tips to encourage physical and mental renewal at work:
- Take breaks. According to the Energy Project and HBR survey, employees encouraged to take scheduled breaks and vacation time are more likely to stay with your organization long term. Your employees will actually spend more time on task, and they’ll feel mentally refreshed by the frequent breaks.
- Automate more customer and supplier interactions. By building a better website that works harder for your business, you’ll reduce the number of incoming calls to your workplace, move more transactions and orders online, and streamline technical support.
- Offer wellness options. You might not have the budget to build an employee gym, but you can buy standing desks, set aside a quiet meditation room, or sponsor an employee weight loss challenge.
2. Show Appreciation
When your employees feel valued, they spend less time defending their worth and more time giving their best efforts. When you start modeling appreciation for what they do, they’ll start showing appreciation to one another.
At every opportunity, provide specific praise for a job well done – and resist the temptation to offer meaningless praise for unremarkable work.
3. Help Maintain Focus
Interrupting your team members with emails and impromptu meetings makes it hard for them to complete ongoing work. They might put out daily fires and attend to front-of-mind tasks, but they’re not making progress on long-term priorities that require deep, extended focus.
Set aside certain times of the day to read email, and stop responding immediately to every message. Instead of firing off emails all day, assemble your most important thoughts into a daily digest that you send at the same time each day. Also, encourage employees to block out one or two-hour periods each day to focus on projects that require deep, focused effort. Make those times sacred — no pings, phone calls or disruptive emails from you.
4. Provide Meaningful Work
Only 22 percent of employees surveyed by Schwartz said their leaders communicated a clear, consistent and inspiring vision. Those leaders who explain why work matters have team members who are 65 percent more engaged and 82 percent more satisfied at work.
Nothing drives team engagement more effectively than knowing your work makes a difference. Spend time talking to your employees about what your organization is doing and why their work matters. Tell them where you want to be in five years or 10 years, and talk to them about what inspires you every day.
Are you surrounded by unhappy workaholics? Change in your workplace may start with taking a hard look in the mirror. What negative work habits are you modeling?