With Rio just around the corner, imagine you are a top athlete competing in a 100 metre sprint. You’ve put in all of the preparation; you’ve trained hard, eaten well, recovered your energy, you are at the top of your game! You run, you win. The crowd cheers. Success!
Now imagine you have to race again…and again…with little time to recover. Would your performance in your second and third races be as good if you have no time to rest in between? Of course not!
It’s a ludicrous concept… however if we look at corporate life, increasingly this is exactly what we are doing. We run longer, harder, we are bombarded by information, interruptions, expectations and deadlines. We hit one target and then we are straight onto the next and this is often the case with our top performers more than anybody else. We feel that if others are working, so should we and if they send us an e-mail even on our downtime, we feel compelled to reply. We check our phones 150 times a day – and often just before we go to bed. We even start to feel anxious after 10 minutes if we haven’t checked our multiple devices.
But our event is not a 100m sprint, it’s a 40 – 50 year ‘working life marathon’ and research shows our energy isn’t being recovered. A staggering 80% of us aren’t sleeping well. We are more stressed, less confident, over tired and all of this affects our performance and cognitive abilities by up to 50%. More importantly all of these factors put us at serious risk of burnout.
Just because in our digital 24/7 world where we have the flexibility to work when we want to, this doesn’t mean we have to work all the time. Company leaders need to lead by example and show the importance of time-off. As individuals, I can guarantee that you won’t get to the end of your life and regret not working hard or long enough, you might however regret not enjoying the important people and the other elements in your life. It is our friends, our families, and our holidays, our downtime that will keep us performing at full potential and allow us the balance we need to thrive. So please treat your top performers like Olympic athletes and you’ll get better results from your staff and ultimately a more successful business.