I regularly spend time by the seaside. I step off the hampster wheel, unplug from the matrix and (attempt) a digital detox. I disrupt myself! Being off the grid is superb. My partner and I purposefully remove ourselves from our normal, busy and very fulfilling environment. Why? Because we have the opportunity to go to the beach regularly for a few days. Secondly, because we always have a bloody busy year! Thirdly, because we know we must disconnect to reconnect. The great thing about being away is that we don’t feel compelled to do anything other than walk, talk, think & simply “be” with each other. We rest. We recover. We recharge. The best 3 R’s ever!
The 3 R’s from my childhood of reading, writing and arithmetic is clearly NOT what this article is all about. I’m writing about the importance of rest, recovery and recharging. Not just because I’ve got the opportunity for blissful weekends. Although that is a nice reminder.
I’ve noticed that there is a trend which is getting stronger in organisations.
Its the call for their employees to be more resilient. Now call me a bit suspicious or even cynical, but I’m wondering if all this talk about resilient workforces is actually code for how to get people to endure crappy, stressful situations with poor leadership and management in the workplace? I wonder if this call for more resilient people is a get out of gaol card for leaders of organisations which enables them to not look at what’s really going on for their people, their processes and their tools and then getting on and fixing the problems? I wonder if there is really a genuine commitment to employee engagement? Or as I prefer to simply call it, ensuring that the people in the organisation are well, happy and thriving.
“Resilience is about how you rest, recover and recharge so you can to continue to face whatever life and work is going to throw at you”
Resilience is about how you rest, recover and recharge so you can to continue to face whatever life and work is going to throw at you. At least that’s what the authors of this HBR article claim. The authors say that employees toughing it out, being strong and behaving like “a Marine slogging through the mud, a boxer going one more round, or a football player picking himself up off the turf for one more play” is no longer acceptable workplace behaviour. I agree! Working hard is OK, but working insane hours, to unreasonable deadlines or demands is not sustainable. The image of GI Jane, infamously played by Demi Moore, came to my mind when I read this. I agree that even special ops personnel need recovery time in order to keep performing at their peak and to be well. In order to create highly effective, sustainable and enduring high levels of organisational performance, employees have to have down time.
So what’s happening as a result of this misguided workplace culture and behaviour? There are alarming statistics about the cost to companies due to workers not resting, recovering and recharging sufficiently . In Australia, ignoring employee health costs money. The ‘sickie’ costs Australia circa $7 billion each year. The term “presenteeism” — defined as not fully functioning at work because of a medical condition — was recently estimated to cost the economy more than $34 billion a year. There must be a lot of deeply unhappy and unwell people in the workplace. And it’s not just contained to the workplace. There are stories about the partners and loved ones of these “gritty, tough” stressed, sick workaholic people feeling ripped off because they are missing out on precious time together. Mark LeBusque, The Human Manager, writes about Vacation Heroes. The people who refuse to sign off from work when going on holidays. That’s not grit and resilience, it’s plain madness, of the workaholic kind. I wonder why it’s seen as a badge of honour for people (at all levels) to never really leave the workplace? Is it the underlying culture of the organisation? It it a sign of resilience (ie: the GI Jane/Marine kind?) However, that’s a whole other subject which Mark tackles really well.
Seriously, there’s enough evidence out there to prove that the 24/7 wired, digital, busy person is in the fast lane to trouble.
I won’t labour the point any further. But if you’re one of the people for whom Sunday night/Monday morning means you’re about to start another week of unrealistic deadlines, conflict with your boss, poor communication about expectations or job uncertainty, and on top of that be asked to be more resilient, I can imagine you want to either dive into the bottle of wine or dive under your covers……and stay there. So what to do? Apart from looking for a new job, company, career (which quite frankly you should do if your workplace is making you sick) there are some simple steps you can take to build your resilience through the 3 R’s:
- Spend time with those you know, you love and you trust. Spend time with people who will recharge your batteries.
- Focus on the basics. Move a little more each day. Eat to nourish body and soul. Sleep rest for 8 hours, no compromise.
- Make a list of the top 10 things you like to do. Then do them. Simple is best. (I love to walk by the water)
- Start mindfulness meditation. I swear by it…but not everyone finds its easy. Please persist and use guided meditations (Headspace is a great app to start off with)
- Take time out to recharge. Step away from perfectionism. Embrace your vulnerability. My hero, Dr Brené Brown says “people don’t succeed because of perfectionism, but in spite of it.”
But back to resilience. Just like any other new skill, you will have to practice, practice, practice. The good news is that the practice comprises wholly and solely of STOPPING. Stopping to rest, recover and recharge. The best 3 R’s ever!