We live in a remarkable digital age which offers us the excitement of constant access to information, but also presents fewer boundaries between our work and non-work lives. Research is only just beginning to uncover how a non-stop work style affects employees over the long term.
At the macro level, we live in a culture of non-stop interconnectedness - enabling companies to have a global presence, offer remote work, and break the more antiquated rules of the workplace. However, to individuals, digitising our work has just created new (and much more blurry) standards around where work ends and life begins. If we are awake, we are almost always “on.”
What is the cost of our non-stop interconnectedness on our overall health and ability to perform at work?
A 2014 TNS & Beyond Blue reports, “One in five Australians (21%) have taken time off work in the past 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy. This statistic is more than twice as high (46%) among those who consider their workplace mentally unhealthy.” According to this same study, creating a mentally healthy work environment is considered just as important as a physically safe one.
I used to work on a team where the CEO would send an email at 2 AM and expect a reply by 7AM. This created a culture of fear and backstabbing, even at the senior manager level. The message trickled down loud and clear to the lower members of staff, where I sat at the time: we expect you to work in non-work hours. Or even more significant, we value people who would rather work 24/7 than take time off.
But if we treat our work life as a sprint and then end up running a whole marathon, we will burn out, as I did, and that affects the whole team.
Does your organisation make stress management and work-life balance a priority?
One of the companies who is taking these new cultural factors seriously is Aetna, an insurance company based in the USA. They created a mindfulness program which 50,000 of their employees have taken part in (25% of their workforce). The results are astonishing. As Harvard Business Review reported: “On average, stress levels dropped by 28%, reported sleep quality improved 20%, and pain dropped by 19%. Aetna also calculated the savings to the company, finding that, on average, mindfulness participants gained 62 minutes of productivity a week, which is an estimated $3,000-per-employee increase in productivity for the company each year.”
I created Sankalpa to help organisations and individuals facilitate a healthier work life balance. Sankalpa is a Sanskrit word that means “an intention formed by the heart and mind”-- a simple, positive statement said to oneself daily. A sankalpa is typically used as a recurring affirmation - it could be something like “I own my power” or “I will thrive in this role.”
At Sankalpa, we help teams understand the need to pause and look inward in order to better manage work and personal stress. We use strategies to re-pattern the mind to work with us, rather than against us. We help to create opportunities for employees to have a more grounded daily life that is balanced and sustainable.
Our workshops feature practical techniques that help employees practice mindfulness, manage stress, and find purpose on the job. We offer meditation and yoga classes to corporate groups - encouraging teams to move beyond theory and put mindfulness and stress management techniques into daily practice. We also run wellness days and retreats to create a more meaningful experience away from normal daily stressors.
Get in touch to discuss how we can work together to create a healthier and happier daily life for your team.
Charlotte Messervy is the founder of sankalpa.co. She combines her experience as a career coach and yoga & meditation teacher with the aim of bringing mindfulness and positive mindsets into the way we work and live.