Burnout is Real
“I don’t wanna!” That’s the voice I hear in my head when I feel burned out. I call it my inner toddler having a temper tantrum. And once I start hearing that voice, things begin to fall apart pretty quickly. I forget things I need to do, snap at my coworkers and friends, am rude to people for no reason, and even cry alone in the bathroom. It’s not pretty. I also tend to procrastinate when I hear that voice. I procrastinate until the quality of my work is diminished to the bare minimum because I just didn’t wanna do it. And I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of productivity. I mean sure, the work got done, but it wasn’t good quality work. Anyone can do mediocre work. What value do I bring to the company if I produce mediocre work?
Thankfully, at Red Thread Brands, we take work/life balance seriously. Really. One of our values is the joie de vivre, which is French for “the joy of living.” All of us have passions outside of work that keep us happy. We’re a diverse group of singers, artists, sword fighters, gardeners, jewelry makers, published authors, axe throwers, teachers…the list goes on. These activities are essential because they not only make us happy outside of work; they make us happy at work. And studies have proven that there’s a direct correlation between happiness and job performance.
Happiness = Productivity
According to a 2019 study from Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, happy workers are 13% more productive within their regular work hours. While this study was the first to show tangible evidence of the correlation between happiness and productivity, it doesn’t take research to recognize that moods can directly affect productivity.
When you’re happy or feeling positive, you’re more energized and open to new ideas. In contrast, when you’re unhappy or feeling negative, you’re more likely to be sluggish, close-minded, and distracted. So how can leaders keep their employees happy? One of the many ways is to encourage work/life balance.
Flexibility Leads to Loyalty
Speaker and work/life balance trainer, Joe Robinson, states “One of the most powerful factors in engagement is having a sense that you are valued and trusted. Work-life programs that allow flexibility in how tasks are done, where they are done, or when they are done give employees that sense of value with the vote of confidence that comes with choice, options, and responsibility.”
Especially during the pandemic, flexibility has become a non-negotiable for many people in the workforce. In a 2020 survey conducted by FlexJobs, a whopping “81% of surveyed respondents say they would be more loyal to their employer if they had more flexible work options.”
Personally, I can attest to this. In my previous job, I was basically on-call all the time. I would receive text messages and phone calls at all hours of the day and night, and there was hardly such a thing as a weekend. I was working in the music industry, and that round-the-clock hustle came with the territory. But after nine years of that lifestyle, I was burned out.
Due to work events, I often had to miss gigs with my own band (Marina Orchestra, in case you’re interested.) And the more I had to miss out on my personal life–my personal happiness–the more exhausted I became, and my inner toddler would wake up and shout, “I DON’T WANNA!” But then I met Chris. The flexibility she offered me at Red Thread Brands as a fully remote company (even before the pandemic) made me feel as if George Harrison himself had appeared from beyond the grave to sing to me, “Here comes the sun / It’s alright.”
Blurred Lines: What are ‘Business Hours’?
Of course, there is a flip side to flexibility. In a Forbes article this past spring, Maura Thomas poses the question: “Is there such a thing as ‘business hours’ anymore?” These days, so many people are working from home and working around their family’s schedule. Some employees may be up in the early morning hours getting things done, while others have to work in the evening once the kids have gone to bed. “Now more than ever,” Maura says, “the phrase ‘business hours’ is devoid of meaning.
During the pandemic, ‘business hours’ has morphed into ‘any hours’—or, more precisely, ‘all hours’—so it should be no surprise that burnout has become a serious and growing problem.” Not to mention, smartphones have made it easier for people to communicate at all hours of the day, whether through text, email, or calling. We’ve become so dependent on instant communication that it’s harder to turn off at the end of the workday. While this phenomenon is nothing new, it does bring up a good point that flexibility works best with clear communication and boundaries.
All in Favor of a 4-day Workweek say “AYO!”
Seriously, there’s been quite a bit of talk about whether or not a 4-day workweek is in our future. Especially since the beginning of the pandemic, businesses are looking for ways to allow more work flexibility in order to alleviate employee stress. I, for one, have thought about this for years (and according to a Facebook memory my fellow account manager, Melanie, recently shared with the Tassel from 12 years ago, so has she!) Having to cram in rest, fun, and preparation for the workweek all into two days just doesn’t always work. It’s the very reason why songs like Manic Monday exist.
The good news for those of us on Team 4-Day Workweek is that it seems to be working well for businesses all over the world that have tried it. In 2020, a business in Cambridge, MA, adopted the 4-day workweek and says they can’t imagine going back. They cite that a year into the change they saw a 100% increase in year-over-year annual recurring revenue.
They’re not the only business seeing this kind of improvement. But many still argue that it would never work. The point that those in opposition seem to miss is that cutting to four days doesn’t mean cramming 40+ hours into four days. Full-time work can be done just as effectively, if not more so, at 34-36 hours.
What should you do with the extra day? Play!
Sure, as adults, we think play sounds silly and unproductive, but that’s kind of the point. As Red Thread Digital Strategist Colleen pointed out in her blog Hobbies Not Hustle, play means to “Engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.” For me, play means singing with my band, doing puzzles, or making playlists on Spotify. These activities make me feel relaxed and happy and ultimately rejuvenate me, allowing me to be more productive at work.
Interested in working with an agency that understands the importance of both work and play? Find out what Red Thread Brands can do for you!