Why leaders must encourage their teams to switch off

Monday, January 30, 2017 - 16:29

Today's business world can be demanding and the ability to achieve work life balance is becoming more and more difficult. Sometimes it can feel as though everything is a priority and it can be hard to navigate your way through the pressure. Employers can expect quite a lot from staff and we are increasingly putting additional pressure on ourselves to achieve greater results. However, when did it become acceptable for our 9am - 5pm working day to become 8am - 7pm with a Saturday morning or Sunday night included every now and then? Many of us have allowed this pressure to enter our lives, whether it's through confroming to workplace culture or feeling obliged to put in more hours. 

It's time to push back. We live in a world that's constantly connected and now it's more important than ever to learn how to switch off in order to maintain your health and wellbeing. Maintaining work life balance is not only important for your personal health and relationships, it's also helps to improve efficiency of your work performance. 

Let's look at how workplace health and wellbeing can benefit both the organisation and the employee.

Benefits to the organisation

By encouraging employees to switch off (leaving work at a reasonable hour, taking lunch breaks, switching off the work phone during holidays), organisationations benefit in many ways including:

  • Reduction in absenteeism
  • Lower injury related insurance claims
  • Greater work satisfaction creating more loyal employees
  • Higher productivity
  • Higher quality of work output

Benefits to the employee

For the individual, adopting 'switch off' behaviours result in:

  • Greater motivation for work
  • An improved sense of wellbeing
  • A sharper focus
  • More effective productivity

So while the solutions to encouraging 'switch off' behaviours are simple, the overall results to both the organisation and individual are significant.

However, merely promoting positive health practices is not enough. Employees are looking at what their leaders and managers are doing themselves almost moreso than what they are saying or what the company policy is. 

To create a workplace culture where health and wellbeing are a priority, apply these simple steps:

1. Understand the meaning of workplace health and wellness

If health and wellness is to be a priority within the workplace, leaders must understand that health and wellness is more than just ‘absence of disease and injury’. Employees are looking for ways they can put their best foot forward and have the energy and stamina to get them through their day which is a shift from being strictly ‘injury free’ or low rates of absenteeism. A productive employee is one who turns up each day and can give their best in all areas of their work.

2. Lead by example

Employees look to leaders for guidance and modeling of positive work behaviour. As a leader you need to practice what you preach. If you reinforce switch off behaviour such as comitting to taking a lunch break, then don't work through yours. If you ask your team to stop taking work home, don't speak about how late you worked last night. As a leader if you don't encourage switch off behaviour, you leave your team more susceptible to burnout. 

3. Offer flexible working hours

Flexible working hours enable your team to balance their personal life and working life. Flexible working allows offers employees more freeedom to manage their health and wellbeing - whether it be popping out to see a specialist, picking the kids up from daycare or cycling to work. Arrangements that give employees freedom to manage their time more effectively result in more motivated and loyal employees.