Transparency In Leadership: How To Address Workaholism 

Leaders in the workplace hold a lot of responsibility. They often have a significant say over the direction a company takes and will often play a big role in the future success of an organisation. However, while these responsibilities offer exciting new opportunities for leaders, they often require a higher level of commitment.

For those already working long hours, this can quickly result in workaholism and an unhealthy work environment. This article explores how to talk openly about workaholism and its impact on leaders. 

Workaholism: A Definition

If you’re not familiar with the term ‘workaholism’, it refers to a person who works excessively. Whether it’s out of compulsion, fear, or motivation, workaholism can have significant effects on a person’s mental health and wellbeing – not to mention how it can affect the lives of those around them! It is reported that nearly half (48%) of employed Americans consider themselves modern-day workaholics. So, whether it’s a term you’ve heard or not, workaholism is a problem that has become deeply embedded in our society.

According to Forbes, “Workweeks of sixty, eighty, even a hundred hours are commonplace in major corporations, and some say they are working more because they have no boundaries when working from home. If you’re a true workaholic, your relationship with work is the central connection of your life […] Eventually giving way to work hangovers: withdrawal, depression, irritability, anxiety and ultimately burnout.”  

In today’s world of modern work, we have all confronted the reality that in order to succeed, we have to give our everything. However, this rising pressure on leaders to over-perform is having an increasingly negative impact on the individual, the organisation they work for, and the individual’s family. From relationships with others, both personally and professionally, to an individual’s mental health and wellbeing, workaholism must be recognised for the destructive force it really is. 

Talk Openly About Workaholism 

Since the onslaught of the pandemic, the way we work has changed for the foreseeable future. According to The American Psychological Association, “Technology advances (e.g., smartphones, company-supplied laptops) have allowed employees potentially unlimited access to their work, and changes in where work occurs (e.g., telecommuting) may further blur the lines between work and home.” 

Learning how to talk openly about workaholism and its impact on leaders is one of the first – and most essential steps – in overcoming this challenge and fostering a healthier approach to work company-wide.

Provide Practical Support for Executives

Workaholism isn’t a problem that just appears in your office one day; it is something that grows steadily over time. It tends to sneak up on people, with many not realising they are struggling until their lives – and the lives of those around them – are severely impacted. The best way you can manage workaholism is to ensure your leaders are taken care of. 

Providing practical support through many different types of executive treatment for those who may be struggling with the effects of workaholism is a great way to stay ahead of the game. Providing practical support like this is a great way to show the leaders within your organisation how much you care about their mental health and wellbeing. 

Holding a leadership role in any organisation is a huge undertaking and, often, the responsibility can take its toll. That’s why an executive retreat provides the perfect opportunity for those who need it, to receive extra support. 

Away from work stresses and anxieties, leaders can enjoy a much-needed break, receive the support they need, and return to the office refreshed. Executive retreats are becoming an increasingly popular way for organisations to support their staff, manage problems like workaholism, and nurture a healthier, happier workforce. 

Launch Staff Social Events 

The best way to get your organisation talking about workaholism and its impact on their lives is to connect them with their colleagues. When you are working impossibly long hours, it can be very difficult to maintain close relationships with those around you. Organising staff social events within working hours can be a helpful way to encourage leaders to step away from their computers and engage in meaningful conversations with their colleagues. Staff social events help to: 

  • Cultivate professional relationships 
  • Build trust between team members 
  • Encourage open communication across a company 
  • Increase job satisfaction 
  • Motivate employees 
  • Retain employees for longer 
  • Reduce stress and anxiety

As your teams become more connected, the working environment becomes more enjoyable and you start seeing higher employee retention rates. Organising staff social events is a great way to re-introduce a healthy balance back into your employees’ lives. Social events provide an opportunity for everyone to have fun, get to know each other, and relax. They are also a great way for employers to show they care about their employees’ health and wellbeing. 

Create an Open Door Policy 

Introducing an open door policy is one of the best ways to encourage open communication within the workplace. If you don’t know what an open door policy is, it’s basically where a manager’s door is kept open for everyone, including virtually. It is meant to encourage open and honest communication, to break down the barriers between employees and their managers, and to foster a more honest and communicative work culture. 

According to Hubspot, “when you don’t create an open line of communication with your team, they may feel discouraged, leading to poor morale and ultimately lower production […] an open-door policy can help employees bring fresh ideas to the table and make you aware of small issues before they become major problems that affect everyone.” 

Introducing an open door policy is a great way to show your employees how much you care. It opens lines of communication between your teams and allows anyone who is struggling to talk openly about how they are doing. 

Prioritise Leadership Training Days 

How often do you take the time to invest in your company’s leaders? More often than not, the needs of executives and company leaders are pushed to the side in favour of higher work production. However, this is a major cause of workaholism and often leads to high staff turnover and an unhappy workforce. 

Investing in your leaders through leadership training days is an important step in talking openly about problems such as workaholism. Through specialist training days focusing on topics such as mental health, you help initiate more meaningful conversations among business leaders. You provide a space that facilitates open and honest communication in a productive way. 

Schedule 1-1 Check-ins 

You won’t know how the leaders in your workplace are really doing if you don’t take the time to check in with them. We believe that every organisation should build 1-1 sessions into their weeks so that every employee feels seen, heard, and supported at work. Effective leadership starts with understanding people. If you take the time to meet with your company leaders, ask how they are doing, and provide the support that is individualised to their needs, you will have a happier and healthier workforce. 

Schedule weekly 1-1 check-ins with your team leaders. These check-ins can be carried out in-person, over the phone, or remotely. Whatever method of communication you choose, the most important thing is that you took the time to communicate with your team leaders and check-in with how they are doing. 

Regular 1-1’s are an effective method of open communication that ensures anyone on your team struggling with workaholism (or exhibiting the signs) is receiving the support they need. 

Final Words 

A good leader will set an example within your organisation. It is up to you to ensure it’s a good example. We hope the suggestions above will help you communicate more effectively with the leaders in your organisation so that issues with workaholism can be addressed in a timely and effective way. 

The sooner you start talking about workaholism and bringing the issue to light, the sooner something can be done to fix it. You can transform your workplace and work culture for the better today by following the communication strategies outlined above.

Author: Sophie Bishop – Freelance Medical Journalist

Photo credit: Florin Palamarciuc on Unsplash

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