A boss that preaches punctuality, but walks in late to a meeting. Or one who criticizes employees for checking personal email during business hours, but is discovered browsing shopping sites in his office. No one likes them.
We talk about examples like these to teach the importance of leading by example, but what about otherwise good leaders obsessed with working all the time? Advocating good work-life balance within your organization hardly works when you, as its leader, forget to take time off for yourself.
Sam Mallikarjunan, Flock’s most passionate culture advocate, recently ranted about leaders, work-life balance, and hypocrisy, and brought up a great point: “It's hard to take time off when you're working hard on something you're excited about. But if you don't, you'll fail at it.”
As a leader or a manager, it’s easy to be swept away by the thrill of building the next big thing or the urgency of a looming project deadline. You think it’s okay to work long hours for a few days to get things done sooner, and your team follows your lead. And then, because good work is its own reward, you keep doing it. Before long, no one on the team takes time off. Everyone is stressed, trying to get ahead, and taking some time off might mean losing a chance at a promotion - not true, but the fear is real! And the productivity continues until they (and you) burn out from all that stress.
No wonder then that Forbes reports workplace stress is on the rise. In a survey of nearly 2,000 professionals by the Korn Ferry Institute, nearly two-thirds said their stress levels at work are higher than they were five years ago. Worse, the survey indicates that workplace stress levels have gone up by nearly 20% in three decades!
Taking time away from work helps people do better work
There’s a simple solution to workplace stress... stop working for a bit.
Humans need vacations. Even a little time away from work can help us relax and recharge. In fact, research shows that planned time away from work helps people do better work. In another HBR study, 55% of people surveyed returned to work with much higher levels of energy after a low-stress vacation.
Ultimately, all talk about achieving good work-life balance comes down to this - happier employees are more productive. By creating a positive vacation culture, where you encourage (and sometimes require) employees to take time off, you can improve employee happiness and satisfaction. And they will come back to work raring to go!
Effective leaders inspire the people around them to push themselves to greatness. They lead by example, and you can set one for your team by maintaining a good work-life balance. Keeping the line between productivity and stress clear lets your employees know that they matter, and improves work quality all around. Start by taking a vacation. ;)