Great leaders respect personal boundaries. You have to give people their space. If a boss crosses those lines by calling people constantly or demanding they stay at the office for unreasonable hours, they are not valuing care and kindness. Looking after mental health in the workplace can sometimes be quite difficult.
A boss’s ‘be available at all times!’ mandate actually decreases the quality of employees’ work. A 2017 Gallup report found that overstressed, undervalued employees had 37 per cent higher absenteeism, 49 per cent more accidents, 60 per cent more errors and defects, 18 percent lower productivity, 16 percent lower profitability and 37 percent lower job growth. You might not be talking about it, because mental health first aid is still a taboo subject.
There is no upside to burning people out. At BS offices, workaholic ‘pacesetter’ bosses demand that their staff not leave until they do and send urgent emails all night and over the weekend that must be replied to ASAP. Calling someone at home at midnight with an urgent ‘do this or you’re fired’ message is an abuse of power. Talking about hr app is a good step forward.
Now, if there is a really pressing deadline and all hands are required on deck, then yes, some personal hours and weekends will have to be sacrificed. I find it really hard to tolerate people letting work go unfinished on a Friday over and over again. But unless there is a very good reason to interfere with someone’s life during off hours, we do not do it. Whether you work with 10 people, 10000 people or just yourself, paying attention to employee wellbeing has never been more important.
Established ground rules must be observed. If I choose to work over the weekend, I very often use the ‘send later’ tab in Outlook. Tons of emails arrive at 9 a.m. on Monday, but not over the weekend unless really necessary. Some companies, Google for example, have been accused of 24/7 food and nap pods to keep their employees working round the clock. For us, workplace sustainability means keeping a close eye on workflow and work stream. I don’t want to see anyone working more than nine or ten hours a day. If we notice someone coming in at six in the morning and staying until midnight, we address it. I don’t want them to work that hard and I will send tired people home. We all need our downtime and our rest!