Time for a summer break even in high intensity work places

It is that time again of the year, when the Nordic countries go on their well deserved vacations and the rest of Europe is wondering how is it possible that you can be away for 3-4, even 5 weeks in one row. It is amazing to notice how the relationship to vacation varies between national cultures but foremost between people in different company cultures. In fact, it is an increasing challenge that many people feel they are trapped in a 24/7 -“always available”culture.  Even many of those who take several weeks off are still connected  to the workplace somehow. There is a very interesting article in the latest Harvard Business Review on “Managing the high intensity workplace”. In the research they found that people typically rely on one of the three strategies: accepting and conforming to the demands of a high-pressure workplace; passing as ideal workers by quietly finding ways around the norm; or revealing their other commitments and their unwillingness to abandom them. Not surprisingly they found that even 43% of the interviewed persons feel in the first category of accepting. This to me says something of how easily it happens that we human beings confirm to to what we believe the employer expects from us. Even if we often are more resourceful and have more choices than we think. So it is each and everyone’s responsibility to be true to what you believe is the right work intensity and makes you thrive. Personally, I find it difficult to belive that you through acceptance can create maximum engagement of the workforce . Executives in organizations are role models and with their behaviors set the examples for what is accepted and not accepted. Having done lots of work with organizations to further develop their leadership culture, I find it striking how many executives actually are not aware of the impact of their behaviors. Simple things as sending email at midnight or never taking a vacation sends a signal to the workforce that this is a 24/7 culture. Saying to staff that it is important to take a break but not role modelling it yourself sends mixed messages. And people tend to believe what you do, not what you say. So my advice is that executives start reflecting on their on work patterns and the impact it has on the workforce and the culture. Start thinking about what kind of culture does your business need for the future and what does it take from you as leader to role model it. And involve your people in the dialogue, make them part of creating the future culture for your organization. And you will be amazed of the increased engagement. But first, take a summer break, reacharge your batteries and stay off line. Wishing you a relaxing summer time!