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How can the corporate culture have a positive effect on the well-being of employees?
According to British business tycoon Richard Branson, treating people like the capable adults they are is important. “Working flexibly encourages our employees to find a better balance between work and private life,” he notes. "That balance makes them happier and more productive."
“There is no magic formula for a great corporate culture. The key is just treating your employees the way you would like them to be treated. “- Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group
At a time when people are trying to manage their workdays while looking after young children and other personal chores, those words couldn't sound any truer.
Related topics: Work-life balance is essential for entrepreneurs
During the global health crisis, the need for boundaries between work and home has become even more critical. Many business owners may mistakenly believe that sending emails at any time of the day is not a problem because their employees are now working from home. What they are actually doing, however, is promoting an unhealthy, “always on” corporate culture that keeps people attached to their devices.
John Hackston writes for Harvard Business Review: “Technology can empower people, but they can also feel enslaved. If you think carefully about how and when to use it, you'll find your own sweet spot. In the midst of the current crisis, this is more important than ever. "
"Always-on" is the default setting
Let me ask you this: how often do you take your smartphone with you for lunch or dinner? How about to bed If you take a moment to determine how often you have received work notifications outside of work, you will likely lose the count.
When I tell you that we are “always active” as entrepreneurs, I am referring to this habit of not distinguishing between work and personal time. Many of us may inadvertently set up our corporate culture to reflect our own lax boundaries when it comes to technology.
I know that when I started my startup, I had the wrong belief that answering emails by midnight or on weekends made me more productive. I still had to set the fixed working guidelines that I now have.
Research shows that, as managers, we have to be careful to create harmful expectations when using smartphones.
Hackston emphasizes, "And now that so many of us work from home and only communicate with colleagues through electronic media, the lines between home and work can become increasingly blurred, making switching off even more difficult."
Many of us may think that since we work from home, we will get all of our emails done later at night or on Sunday morning. What we often fail to take into account, however, is that we contribute significantly to the plight of employees and ultimately an unhealthy environment.
The change begins at the management level
As managers, it is up to us to create a calm and productive culture that avoids burnout.
The problem with blurring the line between work and downtime is that it creeps into other areas of your life like your health, your family, and your personal time.
A 2012 study found that the more information overload we experience, the lower our productivity and performance. And not only that, our decision-making and innovative ability are also affected. Other research shows that heavy multitaskers are less able to do multiple things at the same time compared to light multitaskers.
In other words, constant interruptions and the fact that your team does not have the opportunity to be fully present in their personal life ultimately lead to poor work results.
Related: Adopt These 12 Habits For Better Work-Life Balance
So what is to be done?
To paraphrase Branson's insight, the key is to treat your team the way you would like to be treated. Below I offer an alternative way to maintain more balance.
Ways to break down the workaholic culture
1. Set the tempo. It is important that we notice how our daily habits maintain greater work behavior. That is, we are setting the precedent for how employees should behave. For example, when I take calls while I'm having dinner with my family, I expect it is okay to blur those lines between work and personal life. If we don't set limits on our own working hours, others won't believe they have a right not to answer calls right away.
2. Let your team shut down. In the first five years of JotForm we only had four employees. It was relatively easier to keep an eye on communication. But as we grew, I decided that promoting a healthy corporate culture means aligning our policies with our values. Rather than just paying lip service to these ideals, I make a point of having my conversation in a number of ways:
By encouraging my team to delete the Slack app on weekends, the amount of work-related correspondence is limited during employee downtime.
By defining the parameters "on" and "off", team members who like to be satisfied will assume that they should always be "on" unless you tell them otherwise. Communicating clear expectations will help you better protect your time.
By not burdening them with excessive email, I respect their personal time. I've already written why we shouldn't send 2 o'clock emails. Keep in mind that receiving ping in the middle of the night disrupts sleep and creates unnecessary stress at a time that is already stressful enough. To make sure I schedule my airtime for business hours, I let them know that I respect their health and wellbeing.
3. Create a culture of honesty. After all, breaking a work-dependent mindset means being transparent about what we can all do and what we can't. In order to create a sense of community and collaboration, team members need to test their ability to give.
Related Topics: Practice What You Preach: Why Leaders Should Maintain Work-Life Balance During the Most Stressful Times
Ask the tough questions like: Do you work at home on personal matters? This is especially relevant now when dealing with people with mental health and safety concerns.
An open discussion about availability is what defines a healthy work culture. Instead of slowly watching employees burn out, talk to them and really listen to their needs. By doing this, you will improve the overall health, creativity, and performance of your company. As Branson carefully points out, you create an environment in which everyone can thrive.