Why managers need to lead by example to protect staff wellbeing

Managers are more stretched and overworked than ever but there are simple ways they can role model healthy behaviour to their teams.

Within society, a culture of overworking is evolving, with long hours and extreme exhaustion symbolising professional success. Research shows employees are putting in an average of nine hours’ unpaid overtime per week.

Many of us simply work long hours to keep up with workloads, pay off debt, or so we’re first in line for that dream promotion.

However, for some employees that adopt a culture of long, intense work hours, there’s often a performative element involved. Overwork can be seen as a status symbol, signalling the pathway towards employee success.

The added impact of Covid has meant that many individuals across organisations are now overworking, including managers and those in other senior positions.

Regrettably, furlough schemes and mass redundancies have resulted in tighter deadlines, increased workloads and increased fears surrounding job security. Consequently, managers are experiencing heightened strain as they take on the additional work of newly missing team members.

Many individuals in leadership positions fail to recognise the significant risks of overworking, with some persuading themselves there’s no problem with it.

It is important therefore that managers can acknowledge they risk poor mental and physical health, including burnout if they persist with overworking.

Not only this, but they are also modelling unhealthy behaviours to their teams, which could have wide reaching adverse ramifications. This is especially important given that the problem of overworking is a top-down issue which can only be tackled by a fundamental shift at management levels.

The more employees follow unhealthy examples, the more likely it is negative side-effects and health issues extend to become a company-wide problem.

Employees should take advantage of any company benefits like lunchtime fitness classes and discounted or free memberships to local gyms. Look for opportunities to participate in sponsored fitness events like a fundraising run. Encourage people to join you, to promote a culture of more physical activity across your teams.

For those working from home, offer a level of flexibility for when people choose to exercise. This is so employees feel secure exercising when it is convenient for them.

It’s important that those who began a fitness routine during lockdown do not stop because they feel guilty working out when others are in the office.

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