Employee burnout, work-life balance, and overall employee well-being are huge topics of conversation right now. A lot of people will be able to relate to this reader note:
I feel used. I’ve been at my job for just over a year. My boss is aware of my work ethic and has enthusiastically expressed satisfaction of our department’s accomplishments. My peers say they don’t know how I do it. I know how: I work day and night. I sacrifice family and friends to meet the company’s ever increasing demands.
I’ve work a minimum of 65 hours per week since Day One. I’ve asked for qualified help in the form of at least two degreed experienced professionals. My manager hired a part-time high school kid. So many promises have been made and broken. Trust is severely damaged.
My manager received a new boss that was supposed to help alleviate the stress. So far with his “great ideas and strong leadership” I have more projects and more work. How do I get heard and get my life back? Do I even try?
I need to start my reply with an admission. I’ve worked over 65 hours a week for the vast majority of my professional career. I probably work over 65 hours a week now. But that being said, I don’t feel that I’m “sacrificing” my life.
And that’s an important distinction. The issue isn’t how many hours you’re working; it’s how you feel about how many hours you’re working. I know people who feel the same way this reader does when they work 45 hours a week. So, here are some considerations when evaluating your work and life demands:
Establish priorities. We all need to decide the priorities in our life. This includes our health, family, friends, hobbies, faith, community, etc. Then decide the order of those priorities (aka prioritizing what’s important to us). For example, attending an event related to your hobby might be less important than a family celebration. Or vice versa. Chances are everything is not at the same level of importance.
Focus on priorities. Regardless of the number of hours, ask yourself, “Are your priorities being taken care of or ignored?” Also ask yourself, “Have I make it clear to my manager what my priorities are?” Your manager has their own unique set of priorities too. And unless you tell them otherwise, you’re asking them to guess what your priorities are.
Ask about priorities. I’ve learned about this one the hard way. I used to drive myself crazy because I thought everything was a priority. Then I learned to ask where projects fell in the list of priorities. Often my manager didn’t know what I was working on. Or if they knew, they didn’t have the specifics. So when they gave me a new project, they didn’t realize what they were doing with my workload. Instead of just taking on the extra work, I asked where the new project fell in their list of priorities.
It’s hard to know if this situation can be salvaged. I have seen employees speak with their managers about their priorities and managers make changes to improve the situation. I’ve also seen employees tell the company that everything is a priority and the company cannot possibly remedy the situation. The answer lies in whether employees are able to manage their work demands.
Organizations need to realize their employees have things that are important to them – their priorities. They vary by employee. It’s the job of a manager to find out what each employee’s priorities are and work to ensure that employees aren’t ignoring their priorities. Because when they do, resentment grows and it translates into and employee disengagement and poor performance.
Image courtesy of HR Bartender1