There is an ethic at work that says work long hours and you’ll be seen as loyal and ambitious (in a good way). Set your personal comfort aside for the good of the company and you are a team player. These highly valued qualities often mean making sacrifices in your personal life. Saying “I’m busy” is like a badge of honor. Many adopt the title workaholic like it is a good thing. It is certainly an employer’s dream. But should it be?
The irony is, productivity goes down when people don’t take breaks and vacations. Especially for creative people who can’t keep drawing forever from a depleted well. The meaning is lost in work when your connections to your personal life diminish. And if that is not enough to make you take a break, we know that if you keep your foot on the adrenalin pedal from constant stress you can suffer from trauma and even the small life challenges become overwhelming.
At the same time, it is demoralizing to work with someone who watches the clock and is out the door at 5 sharp, especially when there is a deadline that needs to be met. When a worker shirks responsibility and lets others pick up the slack, it creates a sniping atmosphere of discontent.
There is a feeling of vitality that comes from believing your work is important and worth sacrificing for. To be a part of something greater than yourself is very life affirming.
Leaders need to know when to expect more commitment from their employees and when supporting individual needs makes for better workers.
In the Balanced Leadership model the positive side of the fear-based motivation is recognized. Digging down and working hard builds teams, loyalty and self-esteem when it is for discreet periods of time. However, even heroes need time to regroup between challenges. This is when we see them sitting around a fire repairing their weapons, enjoying a beer, etc. Sacrificing for the good of the project is valuable when it is occasional. The problem is when work moves constantly from one fire to another. People burn out.
It is also really important to recognize that not everything a business or government needs to do comes from the fear-based world. Creativity can only happen from a place of vulnerability which is the passion-based world. There needs to be an atmosphere that cares about the individual, promotes self-care in order to fill the creative well, and makes people feel safe and appreciated just for who they are. This is where happiness, engagement, relationship building and a sense of meaning are fostered.
Workers need to know that if they are called away for a sick child, work will understand and be supportive. Space needs to be made for the human aspects of life without an added stigma. Working part time does not mean you are less interested in your career. Some companies even give workers time off to follow their personal interests of any kind and find they have happier, more productive employees and greatly reduced frequency of sick leaves. That’s an innovative and passion-based approach!