Taking a Break to Recharge: An Organizational Imperative for a Sustainable Future

Summer has quickly come and gone again, so it must be time to dig in and get back to work, right?  Wrong! In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing business environment, business leaders must continually make “getting away” an organizational imperative to ensure the long-term viability of their organizations. Taking time away from work is the only sure-fire way to get the rest we need as humans to recharge our engines and maintain high levels of functioning and enhanced performance longer-term. So why do many of us continue charging hard day in and day out as if the world may come to an end if we don’t?

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Many might say it’s just a sign of the times and ask, “Is it really appropriate to take a break at this point in time?” Unemployment has soared to astronomical heights in recent past, and many (Americans at least) are still struggling just to hang on to their jobs to avoid bank foreclosures on their homes. Some economists report that the economy is showing signs of recovery, but it’s going to be quite some time before those signs have a significant impact on the world around us.

Regardless of the economy, I always feel like I need to be available to my clients, to my team, to my business all the time. Most senior leaders in organizations seem to feel the same way so it can’t just be because I’m an entrepreneur and small business owner. Actually, it’s a rare breed these days (at least in the US as opposed to places like Western Europe that all but shut down in the month of August) that recognizes the inherent need to take a break. It’s one of the best ways to gain an appreciation for our work. It’s one of the best ways to create some fresh perspectives on how we work.

I all but stopped reading after completing my dissertation more than 10 years ago. And while it was a challenge for me to get away from my email and turn off my PC during a family vacation last month (yes, I had GoGo Inflight internet access!), I read an entire Patrick Lencioni book in 1 flight from Los Angeles to Orlando with my kids. It was a great experience for all of us to be reading together. And it has given me a new way of looking at my work as a consultant simply from reading.

Caring for oneself has long been proven to be a critical cultural element needed for an organization to succeed. So as managers, we have to demonstrate a sincere set of values that focus on not just corporate objectives but also the health and well-being of our employees. Our intense focus on managing the crisis of the day near-term often gets in the way of our ability to consider our longer-term needs though. So how do we build this “rhythm” of work and recharging into the fabric of our organizational lives? How do we instill new values into our organizations such that rest and relaxation simply becomes part of our jobs and not a luxury that nobody can afford to take?

Many have already begun responding to these questions in a LinkedIn Future of OD group discussion. One member cited the importance of taking a break by quoting Margaret Wheatley: “‘The future materializes from the actions, values, and beliefs we’re practicing now. We’re creating the future every day by what we choose to do.'” Organizational values must be prioritized and set at the top and then reinforced by consistent management practices if they are to last.

Please share your thoughts about how you are successfully prioritizing recharging in your organization with us here and check out the group discussion on LinkedIn (http://bit.ly/futureOD) for more. It may just prove to be the best break you’ve ever taken!

Posted in Employee Benefits, Leadership, Management Practice, organizational culture, productivity Tagged with: , , , ,

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