Are you Overworking your People?

Are you Overworking your People?

Paul Sloane 13/05/2019 5

Are you the kind of boss who gets in at 7.30 am, works hard till 7 pm and expects all your staff to do the same? Are you finding it hard to recruit people who want to? Trust me when I tell you that this approach is not so good. There is considerable evidence that in office work, long hours do not lead to increased output. And there are negative consequences to overwork. People get burnt out. 

They lose motivation and creativity. If your organization gets a reputation as a sweatshop it can be hard to recruit new staff – especially millennials and returning mothers who want a good work/life balance.

Here are some creative ideas for combatting overwork and burnout. 

  1. Mandatory vacation. Some companies who offered unlimited vacation found that people still did not take time off. If the culture is one of long hours and no holidays then people feel uncomfortable breaking the mould. So a more radical and effective idea might be compulsory vacation. Some banks mandate that all staff must take two consecutive weeks of vacation at some stage in the year. This course of action was originally introduced so that any patterns of fraudulent trading could be detected. However, the policy was found to improve staff motivation and retention.

  2. Empower staff to select the work patterns which suit them. Job sharing, part-time work, career breaks and more working from home are all options which can be offered. Let people choose the approach which fits their needs. Give people clear objectives and judge their performance on what they deliver not how long they work.

  3. Encourage short breaks. Research shows that most people can work hard for up to 90 minutes and then benefit from a short break. Install some comfy sofas, table tennis, table football, quoits or darts. Encourage people to take breaks and have a little fun at work. Finish a big meeting with an energetic game of table football.

  4. Be the role model. It is no good frowning every time you pass the guys playing ping-pong. You should join in – but not for long. Take your vacation. Take the occasional afternoon off. Take your team out for a drink at 6 pm one evening. By your own actions show people how to work hard, play hard, achieve a work/life balance and deliver results. 

How long people are in the office is not important. What matters is what is being achieved. Is the team making good progress against the strategy and objectives? Assembling, leading and motivating a great team is critical to success. You will not do that by cracking the whip. Create a working environment which is stimulating and challenging. Build a culture in which people can have some fun while focussing on the goals. Lead a team which enjoys coming to work.

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  • Stuart Robertson

    I will never work as an investment banker

  • John Tucker

    It's even worse in China......

  • Andy Millward

    Companies don't give a damn about your life, they just you want to bring money for them.

  • Chris Simpson

    Definitely a must read

  • Ben Richards

    If only they could read this......

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Paul Sloane

Innovation Expert

Paul is a professional keynote conference speaker and expert facilitator on innovation and lateral thinking. He helps companies improve idea generation and creative leadership. His workshops transform innovation leadership skills and generate great ideas for business issues. His recent clients include Airbus, Microsoft, Unilever, Nike, Novartis and Swarovski. He has published 30 books on lateral thinking puzzles, innovation, leadership and problem solving (with over 2 million copies sold). He also acts as link presenter at conferences and facilitator at high level meetings such as a corporate advisory board. He has acted as host or MC at Awards Dinners. Previously, he was CEO of Monactive, VP International of MathSoft and UK MD of Ashton-Tate. He recently launched a series of podcast interviews entitled Insights from Successful People.

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