Managers—Are your long hours hurting your employees?

late night office worker_croppedThere’s a lot of talk about how managers can engage their employees, but what about their own engagement and well-being? Recent research shows that the majority of managers aren’t practicing sustainable work habits, which is not only affecting their performance but that of their employees.

A study of 19,000 employees conducted in collaboration with HBR by Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, and Christine Porath, associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, found that leaders who work sustainably (with a focus on their four core needs—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual), have employees who are far more engaged and fulfilled than those managers who don’t have work-life balance. Specifically, employees of these managers were:

  • 55 percent more engaged.
  • 77 percent more satisfied at work.
  • 1.15 times more likely to stay with their company.

However, only 25 percent of employees reported that their managers model work-life balance, a problem that is pervasive throughout the world. BBC recently examined research from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) which found that 90 percent of managers in the U.K. work outside of contracted work hours, with 76 percent working late into the night on a regular basis, 48 percent making a habit of skipping lunch breaks, and a third working over the weekend.

Extra hours here and there are normal, but making a habit of it can negatively affect performance. ILM Chief Executive Charles Elvin told BBC that “excessive hours are not sustainable—there are only so many times you can burn the midnight oil before your performance, decision making and wellbeing begin to suffer.”

Even if these over-worked managers encourage balance in their employees, their words largely fall on deaf ears. According to the HBR study, managers that don’t use vacation days, send emails over the weekend and don’t take advantage of workplace perks generally have employees who feel pressured to do the same, putting managers and employees alike at risk of feeling burned out.

So, if your employees look disengaged and overworked, take a look at your own work habits. Is it time to disconnect?


Caroline Cornell

Caroline Cornell

Caroline Cornell is associate editor for IABC’s content department.

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