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Leaders Letter 25 – Google’s Answer To Preventing Burnout, No Meetings Week

23/11/2020

Dear Leaders,

2020 has been one hell of a year. Hopefully, we will not have to live through another nine months like we have had to again.

December is notoriously difficult, wrapping up projects, delivering the most critical product rolls outs, historically December is when companies start turning profits and when staff can feel the pressure the most and work-related illness increase double digits.

This week Google announced their approach to preventing employee burnout.
The first is providing those who ‘can’ with two extra days off, the second is no meetings week.

Both sound like good measures right?
From a headline perspective these sound good measures and potentially the right steps to take, unfortunately having lived through both options there are some downfalls and here are a few things to consider when looking to roll out similar within your teams or organisations.

Extra Days Off:

  • Extra days off work if your colleagues are in a place to take the time off and can finish their work, if not you add additional stresses and can feel particularly unfair to those who aren’t in a place to take the extra days off.
  • Many colleagues struggle to use up their annual leave additional days annual leave requires more management and processes. Does your organisation allow days to be rolled over? Consider how this could be helpful within your business. Is there a way you could reward staff with afternoon’s off?
  • While working remotely the line is blurry, the pressure to check emails, instant messages and check-in are found to be much higher, it is important as leaders you manage this and allow colleagues to actually take the extra time off.
    The always-on generation struggles to shut off as do many leaders.
  • Recommend Action: Proactively manage these steps and allow colleagues to take the time off and manage expectations that they will likely have to finish projects and campaigns before they take these extra days off.

No Meetings Week:

  • Have you worked in organisations where no meetings day work? The likelihood is they struggle to make these stick or work, the typical reason is like I call out in the Focus Manifesto this is where so many decisions are made or the only way decisions are made. Help your teams know how you are going to replace decision making and how you will let your colleagues know what the decision is and how you are going to collectively action it.
  • The question for many businesses will be what constitutes a meeting and what doesn’t. Especially in the remote world of work we operate in currently, anything on Zoom, Teams or Hangouts would appear to be a meeting. Help the teams to know what a meeting is and is not and how to replace. A meeting subculture can often have a long term effect on company culture.
  • Help your colleagues to understand how to communicate your actions if meetings are used as status updates and the actions you are taking for the week ahead. Standup’s, sitdowns, wrap up’s, are all technically shorter meetings so think about how you could replace with video or audio updates and centralised.
  • Management teams have to follow this and have to proactively promote following the no meeting week. Without this, you will see meetings take over again.
  • Recommend Action: With meetings etiquette, even the most forward-thinking companies have meetings and follow similar patterns to the most traditional and out of date companies, consider this an opportunity for a small SWOT team to come together to rethink meetings for 2021 and how to reduce reliance on meetings and roll out recommendations to address meeting fatigue and burnout.

I applaud Google for openly calling out these steps to reduce burnout and burnout within their companies, there will no doubt be many smart people who consider the first to third order effects within Google.

Moving forward many of your colleagues will likely read the headline, share internally and feel like this is something you should be following, manage expectations, explain why this likely won’t work within your org and how you are tackling to make it better within your own business and the steps you will be taking to reduce burnout in December and for 2021.

Thanks and take some time to consider your approach to burnout and optimising the end of the year for a better more proactive 2021.

Danny Denhard

P.S, Read my hybrid perks should be on your agenda ASAP

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