Workplace Expectations are Under Scrutiny

The spotlight is on workplace expectations and burnout with The Finance Sector Union recently launching a major test case, on behalf of managers, on excessive hours against National Australia Bank.

The managers had allegedly been working 55- to 80-hour weeks.

Heard in the Federal Court, the four managers claimed they had to work unreasonable unpaid hours over several years and demanded compensation for damages to their health and family life.

According to the Australian Financial Review (8 March 2023), the case was expected to test for the first time what “reasonable additional hours” are for white-collar workers. Over time, the outcome could impact other professionals across the economy.1

The case highlights the need for organisations of all sizes to carefully consider their expectations – not only to avoid legal action but also to avoid worker burnout. Afterall, burnout is of no benefits to anyone.

And this means addressing the well-being needs of their entire organisation.

According to Dr Adam Greenfield, a workplace well-being expert from the United States, there are several steps you need to take. Here’s part of what he has to say:2

  1. Set boundaries and encourage self-care: With the rise of hybrid working, leaders must set clear boundaries and promote healthy work-life balance. This could mean no emails or calls after working hours, turning off IT at lunchtime, or introducing daily ‘permission to pause’ slots in their calendar where they can step away from work without feeling guilty.
  2. Help with organisation and time management: Make sure your teams know their priorities for each week, and split their workload into essential and nonessential tasks. You could introduce time-boxing to their schedules to block out allocated slots for set tasks, or encourage “do not disturb” spaces in the office or online alerts for concentrated periods of working.
  3. Allow staff to say no to tasks if they are too much: Make sure to assess an employee’s workload before asking them if they can complete an additional task, and do not reprimand if they are honest with you and say they don’t feel they have the capacity.
  4. Introduce mindfulness: Mindfulness practices help to calm the mind, ease stress, and prevent burnout. You could transform an old meeting room into a space for mindfulness meditation, or provide online workshops on mindful breathing or yoga practices to give employees a break from fast-paced work that may be threatening burnout.
  5. Educate around exercise and its benefits: Provide educational workshops on how employees can find the time and space for exercise. Start by creating a mini campaign that aims to touch various aspects of exercise, engaging different people, with different wants and needs. This can be top tips on running, different sports, walking, even gardening.

Implementing some or all of these steps can help reduce absenteeism, increase motivation, and create a psychologically safe culture that contributes to job satisfaction and the overall success and high performance of your business.

You might also consider lightening the load on your workforce by engaging contractors to boost teams or fill short term skills gaps, and by outsourcing services such as payroll, contractor management and more.

At The Ayers Group, we work with Recruiters, Consultancies and Corporates in Australia and New Zealand to remove the hassle and risk of onboarding contingent workforces, accessing overseas talent, and managing back office operations.

Talk to an expert at The Ayers Group today.