Fifty-five percent of U.S. employees have admitted to checking work emails after 11 p.m., according to data collected by Instant Offices.
Is that commitment or work addiction? Commitment is what you’re looking for. Addiction to work, not so much. When employees feel compelled to be available 24/7, always have work on the mind, and forgo personal (and down) time to meet the demands of the job, it’s unhealthy. It often leads to burn out, and in the meantime, employees often are less productive and their work may even suffer. After all, if they’re checking email close to midnight, they’re not sleeping, and we know a lack of sleep costs a host of physical and mental health problems.
So how, as a leader, do you know if you and your employees are committed or addicted to work (and on your way to potential burnout)? Lucinda Pullinger, Global Head of HR at Instant Offices recommends starting with the Bergen Work Addiction Scale. For each criteria below respond with (1) Never, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, or (5) Always.
- You think of how you can free up more time to work.
- You spend much more time working than initially intended.
- You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression.
- You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
- You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
- You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work.
- You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
Answering at least four with “Often” or “Always” could indicate work addiction.
If you or your employees have developed unhealthy work habits, how do you regain balance? Pullinger suggests these tips:
- Trust your team. For a team to grow successfully, it’s important to attract and retain talented employees, delegate effectively, and trust them to perform tasks without you. This will free up time for you to focus on strategy and growth.
- Reduce distractions. Shorten meetings, set dedicated working times where people can focus and create a culture of face to face interaction rather than using email.
- Encourage work-life balance: Instill a 40-hour work week for everyone, you included, with an emphasis on results rather than hours spent at a desk.
- Try a digital detox. Set the tone in your organization by normalizing the fact that employees don’t have to adopt an always-on attitude.
- Allow mornings to set the precedent for the rest of the day. Whether taking time out to exercise, read, meditate or plan for the day, prioritize setting the tone for the hours to come every morning.
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