Seven years ago I distinctly remember standing in the kitchen at one of our clients in January, talking to the business owner, Tim. I was running People Puzzles and working with them as one of our clients, as their part-time People Director, and had been for two years.
I was exhausted. I felt pretty lacking in energy. Yet it was January, the season of new beginnings and supposedly new ideas.
Tim started explaining to me the rhythm of running businesses. You gear up in January, put on a brave face, galvanise the team and fill them with passion for the coming year. Often it is a time to put plans into place, look back on the year, take forward learnings, and review performance with the team.
You spend the year striving to achieve that plan, weathering the ups and downs, the tricky people issues, the financial pressures and tricky clients. By the end of December you are on your knees: not just because of the Christmas party, but also because of the pressure exerted for a whole year of achievement and survival. Even if it’s all going well, it is tiring.
And then, a Christmas break which is often anything but a holiday!
The costs of burnout are well known: Gallup explains that 63% of employees are more likely to take a sick day, and have a 13% lower confidence in their performance. As the CEO taking a sick day may not be an option, but operating with lowered confidence and less resilience could have serious company-wide implications. Their 2018 paper on burnout explains:
“And not surprisingly, the effects of burnout don’t stop at the office door. Employees who consistently experience high levels of burnout are two times more likely to strongly agree that the amount of time their job takes makes it difficult to fulfill their family responsibilities. Even scarier, burned-out employees are 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.”
So, our advice is to book a holiday. In January or February. Away anywhere you can relax, recharge and stock up your reserves for the next sprint.
I’ve tried and tested both: an early year holiday and no early year holiday. The holiday wins hands down!
Tim was right. The responsibility of a business: all those valued team members, their families, their mortgages and school uniforms. That responsibility lies heavy and business leaders need a good break.
The question then becomes: can your business cope with out you for a fortnight? Or even a week?
If you don’t think that it can, you probably need to spend some time getting your senior team in shape, as no single person in a business should make or break it. Take a read of our blog here about getting your team functioning well without you.
Now I need to remember to take my own advice.
Now where is that holiday brochure?
Ally Maughan, Founder