How Even Workaholic Bosses Can Promote Workplace Self Care

workplace self care

I woke up this Monday morning and thought to myself: “Awesome! I got a lot done this weekend because we didn’t have any company.

Seriously Joan?

We are now well into the first summer after a terrifying pandemic in which seeing friends and family—typically an antidote for terror—was actually risky.

Now fully vaxxed, my house on the Jersey shore has been filled with the sounds of laughter, kids splashing in the pool, sandy feet, and corn on the cob.

In fact, here’s a picture of the remaining Garry originals after a hearty 4th of July dinner:

How great to be with people again!

With this image in mind, how could not having company be something to celebrate?

Well, when you’re a workaholic, having company interferes with your weekend activities. I know many of you will actually know exactly what I mean.

After all, I coach clients all the time on how their workaholic tendencies create cultures of stress in their organizations. Say all you want about how you promote workplace self care, but if you have ever sent an email at 5:55am on a Saturday, you have obliterated your credibility on the topic.

But I also know that you are overworked and that there might be reasons why you work odd hours. That’s why I’m writing this post. (I’m also writing it to remind myself to SNAP OUT OF IT!)

I have the simplest of tricks for you to try that I learned from my nephew during our wonderful 4th of July weekend together. This quick tip will help you encourage a culture of understanding and promote self care in your workplace.

CREATING A WORK STYLE INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE

Sometimes, I bristle when I’m called a workaholic. It’s usually intended as a pejorative.

But what if you love your work? I do.

What if it fuels you? Mine does!

I bet that is true for many of you (except for those times when you’re maybe planning for a board meeting).

Adam Grant helped me understand that what I am isn’t actually a workaholic. His podcast When Work Takes Over Your Life, is a must listen for everyone who leads and manages other people.

When you listen to it, you’ll learn that I am an integrator. I like to answer emails while watching the Yankees slip slowly into the depths of the American League East. I am up at 6:30am writing this blog post. It’s how I roll.

When I hired my assistant Joi, pronounced Joy (just clarifying because one of my clients thought Joi was a nonbinary name and pronounced it JWAH and I can’t even type that without laughing), she was very clear—she is a segregator. When work is over for the day, it’s over. No email checking for Joi when she is binge watching Outlander.

So now that we have removed the judgment out of either modality and embraced the inner “segregator” in our colleagues, we who live in the land of integration need to take responsibility for creating a workplace that honors them.

Now on to my very simple tip.

PROMOTE WORKPLACE SELF CARE WITH THIS SIMPLE TIP

Bookend the day!

It took some getting used to for my nephew who recently began working at one of the most prestigious hospitals in, like, the Milky Way. His boss asked him to say ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Good Evening’ at the start and end of each work day.

WHAAAAAT?

Yup. That simple. When Colin is ready to work or “open for business,” he simply emails his boss “Good morning.”

That is her cue that she can send him emails and engage with him on work matters. Until she gets that email, she leaves him be. And if you met his 2 ½ year old daughter (my very grand niece), you’d leave him be so he could spend as much time with her as possible.

And when he is done for the day, a simple “Good evening” email to his boss tells her that he is “off duty” and not checking email and his integrator boss knows to again leave him be.

HOW DOES THIS FEEL?

Well, at first Colin thought it felt a little “clock punchy.” But when his boss described her work style and that she came up with this idea to honor the land of the segregators AND to promote workplace self care AND to give her team a sense of closure about the day so they could in fact exhale and enjoy the evening, he was good with it. Now he quite likes it.

The other night, I just happened to stop over during bath time (his daughter’s bath time, not my nephew’s). He had worked virtually that day. I asked him, “Have you sent the ‘Good evening’ email yet,” and he said, “Actually not yet”.

Turns out his spouse was out for the evening with her dad. Colin had eaten with his daughter and he was going to do some work after he put her to bed. So he was still “open for business.” But on his terms.

So that’s it. The moral of this story?

  1. Take the judgment out of work styles (consider sending the Adam Grant podcast out before a team meeting and talking about work styles—without judgment).
  2. Create bookends for the day. (If you don’t like this tip, have a team meeting and create one of your own).

And last but not least, enjoy every single moment of every single second you spend with friends and family. That is why this integrator got up at 6:30am to write this blog post ahead of my deadline. So I could have an extended lunch with a dear friend visiting from Oklahoma.

A hug and a stroll on the boardwalk awaits.