So many people have been writing about the busyness of work and taking a break during an era where we are connected in a multitude of ways with work, friends, family and the wider community. There are two main areas I want to cover today when it comes to taking a break: Managers/self-motivated people, and employees. Countless blogs talk about the managers and self-employed/motivated people needing to disconnect from their working and online lives (which I want to touch on), but very few talk about the need to acknowledge the hard work done by employees, and needing to encourage this work by ensuring that those employees are taking appropriate breaks, and their work is acknowledged as well.
A self-motivated person is someone who takes charge of their work, someone who often manages some type of work load such as a team of case managers, or a client list, and they are always looking to keep ahead of the game. These people are often the ones that are kicking goals for their company, are loved by the managers, and seldom need to be followed up on in the traditional sense of supervision.
As mentioned earlier, these self-motivated people are often covered extensively in articles and blogs about needing to take breaks, look-after themselves and their families, otherwise their work/life balance can really become a problem. But I want to focus more from a managerial perspective on how these people need to be cared for in the workplace. Often managers can become so pleased with the SM’d worker that that don’t think to check on how they are going outside of work, allowing this person to seriously neglect their personal life. I was recently speaking with a close friend who would be starting up a new business stream in Singapore for their company, however was having issues getting Visa’s sorted and may need to delay the Singapore launch time. Now knowing this person as I do, they have always taken their 4 weeks leave each year, but what they often haven’t told their employer is that they spend much of this time attending work related conferences, catching up with clients, and continually upskilling themselves (now their family has not been neglected, but this person has not stopped in over 5 years). Recently this friend explained to me that their CEO has informed him while the Visa issues were still being sorted he would be given an extra month holiday with his family over the Christmas/New Year break, and not to worry about hurrying up with the launch in Singapore. The CEO had acknowledged the ongoing hard work of this individual and didn’t push them to constantly see more done while there was time to be taken, and we were so glad to see all their hard work being rewarded.
As a manager you need to be able to acknowledge this kind of commitment and work, and reward it in appropriate ways, not always being concerned with profits and turnovers, acknowledging that whatever time will be lost with that person being off will be paid back without you even needing to say it.
Every company and organisation has people who are just there to pay the bills, get in and get out without causing a fuss, and just wants to do the required amount, which is not a bad thing. In Australia we have government agencies set up to protect these people with Fair Work laws, minimum payment requirements, etc. Sometimes these people are employed out of necessity (e.g. the only person available for the wage being offered), or maybe at one time they were passionate about the company but they have lost interest overtime. No matter the reason this person is still important and crucial to your companies success, and just like the self-motivated person they also need to be acknowledge for their commitment (though minimal) and work to see your company advance.
One thing I often see small businesses doing wrong, especially at the Christmas time of year, is overly acknowledging office staff with awards and gifts, and neglecting those in the field. Though it’s important to show those closet to you their value, you need to be careful not to isolate those in the field by overly publicly acknowledging those in the office, so tread lightly when considering staff awards, etc.
No matter the employee, they have been employed to provide a service (and hopefully make the company money along the way), and they should be acknowledged for their commitment, whether that be a gift out of the companies or manager dime, or a party (which can be an issue of its own), or cash bonuses, the more you can acknowledge the commitment of those individuals and teams, the greater return you will see in the long-run.
Additionally, don’t stop at just giving them pay and some type of bonus, invest in them through your relationship with them. One of the biggest gripes I hear from employees in the field is that they feel left out because everyone in the office or management team has a relationship with the executives or owner, and they are just sent tasks to do (feeling like paid slaves). Make sure you invest time in building relationships with these employees, it will go a long way to resolving future conflicts and keeping them engaged in the companies processes, rather than passing the buck.
No matter who it is in your organisation, whether it be a senior manager or executive, or the lowest ranked employee, ensure they are being continually supported and engaged through the entire year. If they are self-motivated, kicking big goals then sit down with them and acknowledge it, and if they are only meeting the bare minimum requirements of the job but are still doing their job don’t disqualify them because they are not the top achiever, continue to engage them, build them up, and help to build positive motivations for them to stay engaged in the company.
And most of all, take a break, encourage your employees and staff to switch-off, enjoy the holidays, and recharge.