The majority of business owners I talk to are tired. They are working 60, 70, even 80 hours a week and still feel like they aren’t making any progress in their business. Their friends and family barely see them and they wonder how long they can keep this up before they reach critical burnout.
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Now imagine having that same feeling of helplessness, as an employee. Imagine working for a company where it is ingrained in the company culture to never leave before your boss does. Imagine having to answer emails, texts, and phone calls all hours of the day and night because it is expected that you too keep up the pace of your overworked, burnt-out employer.
This scenario happens all the time, and it may very well be happening within your own company.
If you were to look at your company culture from the outside, what would you find? Would you find employees who are expected to work overtime or stay late most nights? Would you find team members who carry their phone with them 24/7, for fear of missing an email or a text from their manager and having to suffer the repercussions of a fire drill in the middle of the night? While there are some jobs that require such hours, the majority of them do not. The customer can wait until the morning. That sales call can happen when you are in the office. That email will still be there at 8 a.m.
It’s really easy to create a company culture of urgency and overwork. It requires more deliberate action to create one of grace and work life balance. Begin by working on your own behaviors. Make it a point to leave the office at 5. Stop yourself before sending out that “urgent” email or text after hours. Try turning off your phone in the evening and avoiding your email all together when not in the office. These actions not only will help you find some peace and avoid burnout, but will save your team from having to field all those “urgent” calls and emails from you.
Once you have started to establish better work habits, make it known throughout the company that you expect similar responses from your team. Tell them that you never expect a response to an email after 6 p.m. Tell them that that phone call can wait until tomorrow. After all, they were staying late and working overtime only because that was what was expected of them. So publicly denouncing those behaviors will go a long way to helping everyone reduce their stress levels and prevent burnout.
Company culture takes time to develop, and there will still be the occasional phone call or late night email. But the better you are about monitoring your own habits and behaviors, the better your team will get at learning that it’s OK to make a hard stop at 5 and prioritizing their mental and physical well-being.
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