While at UNLEASH (formerly HR Tech World) this past October, Arianna Huffington spoke on the need to free ourselves from our digital dependency in order to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. She explained, “For the human operating system, downtime is not a bug. It’s a feature.”
My work focuses on where workforce technologies are going and how employees are being affected by such disruptions, and to bring these ideas to enterprise companies. The stories I try to promote center on how people can adapt and make a difference in how our work lives operate and thus lead to positive, more meaningful lives.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Today, we’re praised at work when we go the extra mile in time and in exhaustion. But with one attempt to break away from this tiring repetition, employers and managers can retaliate in ways that don’t support wellbeing for employees. (And this is of course affected by the employees’ social positioning. If they are a person of color, woman, and/or LGBT-identifying, then they may be in more precarious situations to ask.)
That’s obviously not good company culture, yet it’s often reality.
We know by now that driving your employees to the ground with work only creates more issues and increases burnout. It’s a way of thinking we have to move away from. Something we should no longer except. Gone are the days when employers are the first to come to mind. An employee-centered approach is crucial in today’s world that more and more values a company that shares their same ideals as well as companies that will look after them. Employees want their companies and workplaces to be behind them whether it’s to deal with the stress of the job to ethical behaviors in business decisions.
As Arianna said, we, as humans, need to be respectful of our wellbeing and take time to recover from the exhaustion of work. More importantly, workplaces need to align to these needs if they want to succeed; companies need to be at the forefront to enabling employees to thrive.
Just think about it. Would you want to work for a company that demands you be online even when away from the office yet when you ask for a break from the constant connection, you’re chastised? Hopefully not.
The point is that employers need to understand the benefit that unleashing their employees’ potentials through supporting their wellbeing has on their own ROI. If we want to talk the future of work, then we have to talk about providing the assistance necessary for employees to have that necessary downtime.