Want to hear a compelling argument for the importance of work-life balance? Ask your children, or your employees’ children.
A little girl, the daughter of a Google employee, wrote the tech giant a letter in blue crayon a few weeks ago asking that he get some time off this summer.
The letter reads (minor spelling mistakes corrected — let’s give Katie a break):
Dear Google worker,
Can you please make sure when daddy goes to work, he gets one day off. Like he can get a day off on Wednesday. Because daddy only gets a day off on Saturday.
P.S. It is daddy’s BIRTHDAY!
P.P.S. It is summer, you know.
She got a response shortly from none other than her dad’s boss, Senior Design Manager Daniel Shiplacoff.
Shiplacoff deserves kudos for honoring Katie’s request and for even taking it a step farther: Katie’s dad got to take the whole first week of July off. It demonstrates his recognition of the importance of work-life balance for employees and the value of a happy, well-rested workforce to a company’s overall well-being, reputation, productivity and employee retention.
Let’s break down Katie’s stellar arguments for time off one by one:
1) More than one day off a week is reasonable and even necessary.
When labor reformists campaigned for the weekend a little over a century ago, they argued for the restorative effects of time off. Employees who are given this reasonable amount of time off each week to recoup, refresh and refocus return to work more productive than ever. Whether days off are split (Wednesdays and Saturdays, for example), or lumped together into a traditional weekend, the effect is the same. Our minds and bodies are not computers, and we need time to replenish our drive.
Taking full advantage of time off is up to employees, however. Dr. Matthew Sleeth, a former ER physician, argues in a CNN article, “The Importance of a ‘Stop Day,'” that we’re doing ourselves a disservice by jam-packing every minute of our weekends with activities and being busy. He advocates for a return to the traditional “stop” day. Here in the U.S., we typically think of this as Sunday, based on Christian teachings that dictate a Sabbath or “day of rest.” Secularly, a “stop” day is simply a day of disconnection from the daily grind.
“It’s interesting that if I took somebody in the emergency department and gave them a big slug of adrenaline,” Sleeth tells CNN, “you’ll find that an hour later they’re just wiped out, and that’ll really persist throughout the day. I think that’s what we’re doing to ourselves. We’re constantly bringing stress into our life, and the idea of having one day a week that I can count on to stop is very reassuring.”
2) It’s her dad’s birthday.
Spending time with family and friends recharges us and realigns our priorities when we’ve run ourselves ragged meeting other people’s priorities or trying the meet the work goals we set for ourselves. Too much work leaves us resentful. A break with the people we love, especially on landmark occasions like a birthday, refuels the energy and spirit we need to work.
When your employees or coworkers return from sharing a special occasion with family, such as a wedding, birthday or anniversary, it’s the perfect chance to connect on a personal level. Not only is it interesting to learn about people on a friendly level — and simply a nice thing to do — these moments of connection leave employees feeling more valued and invested in their workplace.
3. Summer is for kicking back a little.
As much as many of us would enjoy it, work can’t grind to a halt in the summer. But that’s no reason to keep employees glued to their work for long hours when the outdoors and backyard barbecues beckon. Keeping employees happy and working hard during the summer months is all about finding a healthy work-life balance.
For more on developing a summer work-life balance at your company, check out our recent post, “4 Strategies for Maintaining Employee Motivation During the Summer.”
And hey, smile! It is summer, you know. Have a great week, everyone.
For more on building a culture of employee happiness, balance and appreciation, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”.
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