What do Americans, Japanese and Korean workers all have in common? They all come from cultures that equate working long hours with high performance and productivity. And, they’re all wrong.
In fact, Japan and Korea rank lowest worldwide for individual worker productivity. And, the United States is ranked by the World Health Organization as the most anxious country in the world.
The American nonprofit sector tends to take this myth a step further with its chronic understaffing and a pervasive martyr-complex, which implies that creating meaningful change requires great personal sacrifice. As a result, burnout rates among nonprofit employees are rising with 3 out of 4 executive directors planning to leave their jobs within the next 5 years.
For the sake of the public that relies on the programs and services of our nonprofit organizations, it’s time for us to shift our definition of a “good employee.” Would you rather have an employee who works 60 hours in the office to complete his/her tasks, gets bored and cruises social media sites throughout the day and frequently misses work days due to illness? OR, would you rather have an employee who works 32 hours a week to complete his/her tasks and spends more time rejuvenating with friends and family and practicing good self-care?
Brigid Schulte has written a new book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, about why work has become overwhelming for so many people and how nonprofit leaders can ease the burden for their staffs. Her tips include encouraging staff to take regular breaks after each 90 minutes of concentrated work. And, to stop scheduling so many meetings!