Respecting Well-Being


Flat organizations, technology, competition, and complexity. These are only a few of the things that have made your life and the lives of your employees crazy.

You work incredible hours. You receive 100-200 emails a day. You have to make your quarterly goals, you need to manage and lead. You need to evaluate, hire and fire employees. You have to deal with staying competitive in a down economy. Work is only a part of your life, yet you sacrifice for it, and may expect your employees to sacrifice too.

So what are you and your staff giving up, and at what cost? Do you – and your organization – respect the sacrifice employees make to meet the bottom line more than you respect their staying whole, integrated, and balanced?

Although I am mindful of focusing my writing primarily on the work setting, I am similarly mindful that everyone has a life beyond work, and this non-work life often gets sacrificed in service to meeting a bottom line. This can be unhealthy for you, your staff, and your organization.

What if you made an effort to show your respect for the life-affirming balance that keeps you and your employees healthy, whole, and human? Some thoughts:

Model respect for your own well-being: Take all the vacation provided to you, put someone else in charge and unplug. Long hours in short bursts are sometimes necessary, but demonstrate that it isn’t necessary to work long hours all year – stay away from the office on weekends, have dinner with your family, attend your kid’s events whenever you can.

Encourage time with family, friends and community: Talk about how important it is for your staff to stay balanced by spending time with what fulfills them: their families, friends, and doing work in the community. My daughter needed major surgery when she was a teenager, requiring significant recovery (and assistance) at home. My organization encouraged me to take time off to care for her during her recovery. Funny thing is, the office kept running without me there and I was more focused when I returned.

Be generous in allowing time off for unforeseen events: Respect your employee’s needs to take time off to care for sick family members and aging parents or for other unplanned events. Early in my career I had a storm-damaged car (necessary to get me to and from work) that needed significant repairs at several different repair shops. My manager gave me a day off to take care of it. Having come from an organization that strongly discouraged any time off, I was surprised and grateful.

Encourage your employees to have one well-being goal each year: Everyone has something they need to improve on outside of work. More time with the family, a desire to volunteer, or more exercise are examples. Hold them accountable to that goal just as you would any work goal. Because I see the difference in how my clients perform at work, I now urge my them to include a personal goal in their coaching plan.

This isn’t pie-in-the-sky stuff; you, your employees, and your organization (including the bottom line) will benefit when balance is respected. What are you doing to show it?

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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.


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