The plight of the modern American worker is not pretty. Connected to work 24/7 and confronted by a constant stream of emails and to-dos, employees are increasingly overwhelmed, over-stressed, burned out, and hunting for better employment options. In 2016, employers who fail to take immediate steps to respect their employees’ time will lose their best talent and profits to those who do.
The always-on world of smartphones and email has forced 80 percent of American workers to continue working after they leave the office, and 30 percent of Americans report working right through the weekend. Instead of getting more done by working longer, 83 percent of employees say they are simply more stressed and half say they are losing sleep due to work.
Stress follows workers home and only compounds the pressure Americans feel when facing the “Second Shift” – all the personal chores and must-dos at home, like grocery shopping, picking up dry cleaning, shuttling kids to school events, or making family plans.
In the midst of this chaos lies a great opportunity: employers who can ease the burdens of the Second Shift and respect the boundaries between work and home will attract and keep better talent, boost productivity, and enjoy better results.
Across the country, employers are searching for ways to give employees back more time outside the office. Even Wall Street – the poster child for workaholism – is getting the message. JPMorgan Chase recently launched an initiative called “Pencils Down,” urging their investment bankers to take every weekend off. Goldman Sachs started a similar program that requires all analysts and associates be out of office and unplugged between 9pm on Friday and 9am on Sunday. While urging workers to relax on the weekend might sound pretty basic, in an industry where 100-hour workweeks are seen as a badge of honor, these efforts mark a major cultural change.
The problem isn’t just hard-charging Wall Street corporations. Study after study shows that heavy workloads force roughly four-in-ten American employees to forfeit paid time off they earn each year. This led Mastercard to launch a national advertising campaign featuring children begging their parents for just “one more day” of vacation time that would otherwise go unused. Netflix and others have responded to this challenge by granting employees unlimited paid leave.
These are important steps to help retain talent, but employers can be bolder. Given the stress of the Second Shift, 94% of employees admit to taking time off during the workday to deal with personal errands. This is not only a major distraction for workers – it is costing employers more than 1.5 hours of productivity per employee, every week.
They launched a five-star concierge service for their employees at their new headquarters in a renovated 1920s Masonic temple in Los Angeles County (Full disclosure: my company owns the property). CBRE’s concierge helps with everything from picking up employees’ groceries to washing their cars. Workers will be able to save the time they would otherwise have to spend on errands after work and be less pressured and more focused in the office. They will also be freed up to spend their time at home on the things that matter most to them, family meals or opportunities to recharge and relax. I liked this concierge idea so much, I now offer it to my employees.
By making both common-sense changes and pushing new, bold ideas, employers can not only expect happier, healthier workers, but also greater productivity and efficiency at the office, and a better shot at recruiting and keeping great talent.
The talent market is heating up. More than half of the nation’s workers say they are actively looking for a new job. This is the year for employers to find creative ways to show employees just how much they respect their time. Those that do will have a leg up on the competition.