If Beyonce says it’s time to ‘release your job’, it’s official: The Great Resignation is in full swing.
In the wake of the pandemic, people around the world are considering quitting their jobs – or at least, trying to find some semblance of a work-life balance.
According to new research conducted by accountancy firm PWC, almost a fifth of UK workers say that they are looking to leave their current job within the next 12 months, in part due to their desire to achieve greater job satisfaction.
And new research out today found that employee discussions of burnout have increased by 48% on the recruitment site Glassdoor.
Could slow working be the answer?
What is slow work?
You have probably heard of slow living, but what about slow working? It’s the idea of working slower and doing less.
Slow living involves being in the present moment. It encourages us to take a moment, slow down our pace of life, and lean into a more peaceful lifestyle.
This idea has been extended to cover our working lives and involves the idea that we should work smarter, not harder.
On TikTok, Gen Z and Millennial creators are using the hashtag #CorporateTok to critique hustle culture and traditional workplace practices, instead encouraging a slower pace of work.
Advocates of slow working explain that we can work better by working less.
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Create a work-life balance
In order to implement slow working into our lives, we need to create a better balance between our work and our lives.
There is no point in hustling to the point of exhaustion. People say that ‘health equals wealth’ and if thats true that true success comes from looking after our bodies and mind.
So, how can we embrace the slow work mindset?
While this probably sounds counterproductive, taking breaks and finding time to rest can actually increase productivity and the quality of our work while also improving our happiness, making us healthier and giving us the energy to get things done.
Exhaustion and fatigue can slow us down and cause us to make mistakes – so we need to get enough rest in order to work better.
One of the main concepts of slow working is the idea that workloads should remain at a sustainable level. Try to clarify your top priorities so you can make sure to focus on the most important work first.
Allow yourself to say no to colleagues asking you to do additional work. If you don’t have the time or capacity to take on extra tasks, then it’s better for everyone involved if you are upfront and honest about it.
Slow working practice suggests that people should be taking on fewer projects and instead spending more time on the projects they are already responsible for.
John Lees, a careers strategist and author of Secrets of Resilient People, advises: ”When you’re not working, set boundaries that help you remember not to work.
‘Wear a different watch. Use a separate phone or ringtone for family and friends.’
Employers are responsible for creating a culture where colleagues respect each other’s boundaries.
John urges people to ‘be clear with work colleagues about the kind of grounds you consider important enough to disturb you in the evenings or weekends’.
‘And ask colleagues to cover calls and emails if you’re on holiday,’ he adds.
Sophie Marsden, director at LIT Communication, says that at her company, workers ‘switch off our Slack and email notifications at the end of the day so that they don’t see emails or messages coming through in their personal time’.
‘This helps keep work completely separate and prevents thoughts of work from encroaching on our free time,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
Take breaks at work
‘Always take your full lunch break,’ says Sophie. ‘I’ve worked in so many jobs previously where it was the norm to work through lunch to get the job done, but I think taking a decent break is so important.
‘I tend to go to the gym on my lunch break or take the time to make myself a nice lunch that will fuel me for the rest of the day.’
Pearl Kasirye, Head of PR at Pearl Lemon and self-professed ‘recovering workaholic’, says that people need to remember ‘there is more to life than a job.’ She recommends setting aside one day every week to focus on ourselves.
‘Take that day off to do whatever you please so that you can feel joy in things other than your work,’ suggests Pearl. ‘Go to the spa, sit in a sauna, go to the gym, watch your favourite movies, or sleep in.
‘Giving yourself one day a week will save you from experiencing the worst effects of burnout.’
‘Establish a true sense of self-worth,’ says Kasia Richter, a psychologist, yoga practitioner, and former executive. ‘Without it, you will always be prioritising work and ignoring your own needs as you will not feel worthy and deserving of fulfilling your most basic needs such as sleep, nutrition and rest.’
How to improve your work-life balance
Jill Cotton, Glassdoor’s career trends expert, has some more top tips for employees:
- Actively manage your time. Find a work-life balance that works better for you. Keep your to-do list in control, delegate or eliminate unnecessary work and prioritise important tasks. And always leave work at work – even when your office is at home.
- Ask for help: Lack of support is a key driver of burnout. But managers can’t offer help if they aren’t aware you need it. Speak up if your workload is too heavy or you are unsure what is being asked of you.
- Relax: Find ways to switch off and be present in all you do. Nurturing time with family and friends, yoga, meditation, mindfulness techniques and creative hobbies will help you wind down.
- Rediscover your passion: If you have emotionally disconnected from your job, take time to analyse what you loved to begin with and what has changed. Consider whether it is a clash of values, the culture of the company, or the role itself before making your next move.
Lily Siddiqi, employee wellbeing expert at Juno, says that employees should take care when starting a new job to ensure the company has flexible work policies and a culture that aligns with your needs and desires.
‘Presenteeism is (rightly) falling out of fashion,’ Lily explains. ‘So make sure you’re not falling in with an employer who believes that ‘good work’ can only take place under their watchful eye.
‘Before starting at a company, ask how they assess performance. Steer clear of those who monitor how much time you spend in the office, or how long you’re online rather than the quality of your output.’
Lily suggests that potential employees should also ‘open a dialogue with an employer’.
She says: ‘If we don’t make individual visions of what constitutes good work/life balance a priority, quality of life can quickly deteriorate, and we run the risk of burnout.
‘So have a discussion with your manager or HR team early on about what balance means for you.’
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