I was in a new leadership position in a turnaround situation. The organization had been losing market share, had a brand problem, lines of business that had been operating at a loss for years, and an overall dismal financial picture. I hit the ground running and woke up several months later with a new leadership team and a reset of our strategy that looked promising. But, one of the habits I took with me was a 24/7 work mindset. In the turnaround, we needed extra work and the team had given it and more but I wasn’t letting up and didn’t realize it.
I was sending signals that organizational commitment meant being “on” all the time. I am so thankful that my leadership team told me that my late night and weekend emails were a challenge for them. I looked up and saw a committed but exhausted team. I had several young leaders on the team with young families and I realized I was also impacting time at home. I apologized and thanked them for being honest with me. I reset my own leadership putting in place healthy work boundaries and it made all the difference. I have tried to keep those boundaries for myself and others ever since.
What is your view on work? Do you brag to your team about working all the time and never using all your vacation time? Are you asking for work from you team all the time without respecting time off from work? If so, you are sending the message that staying plugged in 24/7 and not taking time off is a sign of company commitment. This expectation will backfire on you soon.What is your view on work? Do you brag to your team about working all the time and never using vacation time? Click To Tweet
Here are four reasons you need to require your leaders to take time off and mandate vacation time:
- Mental Rest
Your mind needs rest. If you are on all the time, your mind doesn’t have the space to step back and see the bigger picture. How do the pieces fit together? What are the patterns? What is happening in the broader context of the world and life? A clear mind, a rested mind, creates opportunity for great thinking. Give your team mental rest and you will have the best thinking and sharpest minds for the work you do.
- Physical Rest
God designed us for work but He also designed us for rest. Physically, we need good sleep to be healthy. There is so much research today that shows the impact of not getting enough rest. When you are on 24/7, you don’t get the right amount of sleep needed to restore your body physically. Often there is a correlation between the degree of your tiredness and your lack of sleep. Your body needs rest. A rested team is a team full of energy and ready to face the challenges and opportunities of your work.
- Spiritual Rest
As leaders of faith, the spiritual side of life is everything. Being able to see and do our work in the broader context of God’s work in the world is essential for living with purpose and meaning. My executive coach told me recently that when our productivity becomes greater than our prayer life, we think we can do more than God. That is exactly what a 24/7 work life is saying. We need the spiritual rest. God modeled this for us in His own work in creation for six days and then resting on the seventh day. Sabbath rest is needed on your team. Spiritual rest creates a team that is anchored well and can face whatever storms may come in your work.
- Relational Rest
We need time with family, friends, and the community of faith that is not about being productive, not about “doing” but just about “being”. Being together. Talking, sharing, playing, listening, enjoying the fellowship of others. If you are on all the time, you are giving those closest to you less than yourself. And you are missing the joy of deep relationships. If you are always working, you have shallow relationships in all areas of your life. Don’t lose or miss meaningful relationships in the name of work. It simply isn’t worth it.
Require your team to take time off. Mandate vacation time. Set boundaries in your organization to guard against a 24/7 work culture. If not, you will reap the consequences for yourself and your team that will eventually cause major damage from burnout to checking out with no heart for the work. And eventually your organization will lose ground and start declining in impact and results.Mandate vacation time. Set boundaries in your organization to guard against a 24/7 work culture. Click To Tweet
What impact do you see from a 24/7 work culture?
“Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. . . Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days. Make us rejoice for as many days as You have humbled us, for as many years as we have seen adversity. Let Your work be seen by Your servants, and Your splendor by their children.” Psalm 90:12, 14-16