All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy
In the modern workplace, let’s be honest, there are only 2 certain ways for communications professionals to clock out: retire or take a hammer to your phone! This is no surprise considering the impressive number of workers who find it nearly impossible to unplug from work, both at the end of their “work day,” and when they go on vacation.
A survey by Fierce, Inc., among workers on vacation found:
- 41.6% of workers check in with the office at least every other day.
- Only 25.8% don’t check in even once.
- 27.3% of employees feel more stressed after vacations.
- 8.9% of respondents achieve a state of complete relaxation while on vacation.
While the idea of vacation and time off sounds great, our Modern Vacation survey indicates that 58% of employees feel no stress relief after vacations. Our new fierce survey on “Having It All” found 70% of respondents cited work-life imbalance as a major cause of stress. Respondents noted that these stress levels have negatively impacted their health, including depression (34.5%), weight gain (45%) and/or loss of sleep (45%).
Regarding workers’ behavior after the end of the working day, a 2012 survey of US working adults sponsored by Good Technology revealed that:
- The workday is lengthening – 40% of people still do work email after 10 p.m.
- 69% will not go to sleep without checking their work email.
- 57% check work emails on family outings.
- 38% routinely check work emails while at the dinner table.
Clearly, if there is any hope of maintaining any sort of reasonable work/life balance, something needs to be done. This is precisely the kind of situation where effective leadership is required and managers and leaders everywhere need to be in the frontline of this battle, being proactive and aggressive in pursuit of a healthier workplace ethos.
Here are some simple, yet powerful, tools for managers and leaders everywhere to best achieve a better work/life balance:
- Delegate for Development – Delegating effectively is an opportunity to assess your workload and make sure your time is being spent efficiently. In addition, it is more about switching your perspective away from only delegating minor responsibilities and, instead, thinking of delegating as a way to grow the skill set of a colleague.
- Try This: Invest time and energy into delegating appropriate tasks to colleagues, and setting clear parameters for decision-making responsibilities. This makes organizations more efficient and effective, while also directly benefiting the delegator by allowing him to have more time for non-work related activities.
- Clearly State Rules on Acceptable Work/Off Hours (Both end of the day and on vacations) –There are managers out there who will make your phone ring in the most ungodly hours, and truth be told, there is also an alarming amount of overzealous workers who, in their eagerness to impress, do not abide by traditional working hours.
- Try This: Alleviate scourge by clearly stating company policy for acceptable work hours. The policy should highlight the hours in which work communication is acceptable, and even more importantly, it should emphasize the conditions under which exceptions can be made. Examples of exceptions include: deadlines, working with different time zones, and voluntary agreements to work/communicate longer.
In the end, there is only one way in which communications professionals can achieve a better work/life balance and that is effective communication. Delegating and having a clearly stated company policy on acceptable working hours, require a leader who is more than a just a decision maker; they require a skilled and effective communicator who can flesh out the company policy by using language that leaves no room for doubt.
A version of this article was originally posted on CommPR.Biz and was written by Halley Bock, President and CEO, Fierce, Inc. So, how will you apply the tools you’ve learned to have the conversations that promote balance?