Usually, it is the individual we blame for fatigue, when the fault lies in the work culture in which he is immersed.
7 min read
The opinions expressed by employees are personal.
“On what high performance companies should strive to create: A great place for great people to do a great job.” – Marilyn Carlson
The signs of fatigue were everywhere. Our team grew to both figures, and suddenly, the work culture changed. In the 13 years that have passed since I launched my JotForm company, from my department in New York, our product has reached millions of people worldwide. We were growing, but somewhere along the way, our administration stagnated.
We were like the crew of a ship lost at sea. The best employees, those who were once energetic and determined to act, struggled to maintain composure. Others bowed their heads and worked non-stop, without taking breaks during the day. By the time Friday arrived, that piece of land was finally in sight, the people were so tired that they didn't even talk to the one next door.
We needed to do something, but what?
As leaders, the easiest thing is to blame individuals for emotional fatigue. But in a story for the Harvard Business Review, Jennifer Moss argues that fatigue has to do with the work environment we have created, not with people's peculiarities. Writes:
“We tend to think of fatigue as an individual problem, something that can be solved by 'learning to say no', doing more yoga, with better breathing techniques, practicing resilience … and the list of self-help continues. But there is increasing evidence that applying curita-like personal solutions to an epic and rapidly evolving work phenomenon may be damaging, and not helping, the battle. ”
Fatigue can be prevented
I have already written about the “viper in the room.” It is my personal metaphor about how fatigue is affecting many industries at a shocking speed, triggering a downward spiral in individual and organizational performance. Research supports me in this: A survey conducted by Gallup in 2018 to 7,500 full-time employees, found that “fatigued employees are 63 percent more likely to ask for sick days and 2.6 times more active in the search for a new job ”
There are many factors that contribute to this pressure cooker, but as the survey concludes, fatigue is not inevitable. Leaders who care about their people can, and should, do something to prevent this viper from biting in his office.
Although finding the right system has been a trial and error process over the years, I would like to share three strategies that allowed me to turn the JotForm course.
1. Stop and ask yourself the difficult questions
The founders can end up so involved in the work of building and keeping their company afloat that they fail to see what is in front of them.
“Fatigue can appear when leaders equate long-time work with progress,” Moss writes in another article for Harvard Business Review, “when there is an implicit expectation that staff must go to work despite mental and physical illness. , and when production-focused, remote and internal sales environments tend to take relationship building to the background, which has been shown to increase loneliness. ”
The first step in reversing this systematic problem is to carefully analyze the role of leadership in promoting unhealthy expectations. We can achieve this if we continually ask ourselves questions such as: Why doesn't our office have the conditions that our team needs to prosper? What can I do to make this a happier and healthier environment? Am I putting the person above the product or vice versa? By asking the difficult questions we can go to the next step.
2. Address the root of fatigue
Do not fall into the dilemma of dealing with employee fatigue when they are considering leaving. Avoid this by investing time and resources to combat fatigue before it happens (and no, this has nothing to do with buying dozens of ping-pong tables or installing cereal bars). Here are some examples of how I created a fatigue-free work space:
Promote limits . Many people believe that the only way to get ahead is to work 80 hours a week and never ask for vacations, but it is the administration that has to take care of setting these limits, encouraging flexible schedules and a manageable workload. For example, in JotForm we understand that everyone has a different work pattern, and we allow those who are more nocturnal to arrive at a different time than those who prefer to get up early. We have also asked employees not to check Slack after work to promote a time of true recovery. As Moss says, “We need to teach people that setting limits is fine. It is not something selfish, but selfless. It allows you to be more effective in what you do, and better help those you want to serve. ”
Practice regular and effective communication. According to the same Gallup survey, employees who fully agree that they feel backed by their boss are approximately 70 percent less likely to suffer from exhaustion on a regular basis. Nothing may show your support to people better than letting them know that they can approach you with any concerns. For this, I have planned to schedule long walks on the way to eat with the new employees, to be able to know them better. I have also implemented Demo Days on Fridays so that teams can show what they have been working on and receive constructive feedback.
3. Ask your team what they need, and then do something about it
Even the smallest changes such as fixing a broken printer or a coffee maker can make a big difference when handling daily work irritations. But this is only the tip of the iceberg when addressing the issue of fatigue. Make the purpose of regularly checking with your employees what is not working. This is an invaluable way to detect problems before they become something huge.
Some additional questions you can ask: Does your team have the necessary resources to do its job? What do you think we should invest more budget? What would make your work environment more comfortable?
But remember that asking is not enough. Your team has to see that you do something about it. Getting involved in this process allows employees to witness leadership and how it takes into account their needs.
And most importantly: it shows them that their opinion, effort and well-being matters.