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How to Model and Encourage Well-Being


Flat organizations, new technology, increased competition, and greater complexity define workplaces today. These are only a few of the things that have made your life and the lives of your employees difficult.

You work inhumane hours, receive hundreds of e-mails a day, and strive to make your quarterly goals while leading others. Work is only a part of your life, yet you sacrifice for it, and may expect your employees to sacrifice too.

So what are you and your employees giving up to make your goals and at what cost? Do you – and your organization – respect the sacrifice employees make to meet the bottom line without a thought to the importance that they stay whole, integrated and balanced?

Everyone has a life beyond work, and this nonwork life often gets sacrificed in service to organizational goals. This can be unhealthy for you, your staff and your organization.

What if you made an effort to show your respect for the life-affirming balance that keeps you and your employees healthy, whole and human? Is it possible that when you and your team are balanced, you might just see an increase in the quality and quantity of the work output?

Some thoughts:

Be a model for your own well-being: Take all the vacation time provided to you, put someone else in charge and unplug. Long hours in short bursts are sometimes necessary, but demonstrate that it isn’t essential to work long hours all year – stay away from the office on weekends, have dinner with your family and attend to your outside-of-work interests; you’ll be a better leader and a model to your employees when you do.

Encourage time with family, friends and community: Discuss the importance with your staff of staying balanced by spending time doing what fulfills them outside of work and connecting with their families, friends, and community. When your employees stay balanced in fulfilling ways, they bring more energy to work; they can be focused without feeling pulled away from other parts of their lives.

Be generous in allowing time off for unforeseen events: Respect your employee’s needs to take time off to care for sick family members and aging parents or for other unplanned events. You might be surprised at the gratitude and loyalty that results. When they return, they’ll be more focused and ready to put their best efforts into the work that needs to be done.

Urge your employees to have one well-being goal each year: Everyone has something they need to improve in their life outside of work. Healthier eating, more sleep, more time with their family, and regular exercise are examples of these types of goals. Why wouldn’t you support them in that? Hold employees accountable to well-being goals just as you would any work goal because it shows you care (not to mention the benefits it has for the work they do).

This isn’t pie-in-the-sky stuff; you, your employees and your organization will benefit when balance is respected. What are you doing to model and encourage well-being in your organization?

Mary Jo Asmus is an executive coach and a recovering corporate executive who has spent the past 12 years as president of Aspire Collaborative Services, an executive consulting firm.

(Image via kenary820/

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