I have often heard of people working in agencies, who work phenomenal hours. They are not alone – but when I was sent this note to comment on…. I thought does it always have to be like that.
“Recently, I looked at a photograph of myself from 12 months ago. Since working relentlessly long hours in an ad agency, I’ve gained weight, grown a paunch and developed some unseemly wrinkles on my once smooth visage. I’m home from the office at 10 pm most nights, so waking up at 5 am to exercise does not appeal. I need to do something fast about my health, but I don’t see my workload improving. How can I change things? Should I ask my boss for a lighter workload?”
It made me wonder “what drives this person, is it the endemic culture, the wish to excel, or is it too few people doing to a bigger job? Or maybe that clients are so demanding?” Yet we have been talking years about the fact that clever companies are looking after their people and see a result in their market value. Happy people = Happy profits.
I can imagine that this person is not alone and that perhaps the entire team experiences the same. I question whether going boss for a lighter workload might well come across as ‘you can’t take the pace’. Yet we need downtime to be creative.
A third of people choose an employer based on management’s commitment to work-life balance. There is such a melding between the workweek and the weekend that it is essential for employers to offer more to their employees during the week. If colleagues are feeling the same it’s time to talk to management – not about workload but about balance. What about yoga classes 3 times a week at work, at the very least, do some team walking – Have a walking lunch club and raise money for somebody in need. Challenge your co-workers with pedometers of who can walk the most in a month…. (I often walk with my direct reports for our one on one meetings rather than sit in a meeting room talking. Though the rain has not been conducive to this)
The missing element in this person’s story is fun…. When there is laughter, joy and results in no one mind working long hours for a short period. But enough is enough. And if you cannot change your workplace, then change your workplace. My personal mantra is “if it’s meant to be it’s up to me.”