I took a break from planning my Thanksgiving activities the other day and was perusing the Internet when a story about Kmart’s Thanksgiving policy caught my eye.
For those of you that don’t know, Kmart has alerted its employees that if you don’t show up on Thanksgiving, you’re going to lose your job. In fact, Kmart plans to open its doors at 6am on Thanksgiving morning for consumers buying pleasure.
Now while these early start times in the retail industry aren’t really anything that new or shocking any longer, what I drew from these ultimatums has more to do with how we as organizational leaders need to reevaluate the evolving workplace.
I realized that many of my current and former clients have been challenged in adapting to the “always on, always connected” workforce.
Do we really want our employees working 10-12 hour days? Do we want them answering emails on the their smart phones at night? Do we want them to not take vacation or sick days? Do we look down or question the work ethic of those employees that are only working eight hours, using vacations and unplugging after they leave the office?
The answer is I’m not really sure. It’s probably a little of both, however, from an organizational standpoint, if we don’t know the answer, how is it affecting our employees?
Deloitte just recently completed the Global Human Capital Trends 2014 study, which brought forth some compelling data that caused me some alarm.
Nearly two-thirds of employees feel completely overwhelmed at work. Employees feel that the work-life balance has been lost, due to technology and the blurring lines between work and life.
Employees are working too hard. Men and women alike are regularly working more than 50 hours a week. In addition, they are too distracted, are flooded with too many emails, conference calls, meetings, and other distractions.
Perhaps most importantly, the study showed that 65 percent of business and HR leaders rate this an important challenge, yet fewer than 10 percent of organizations know what to do about it.
So what can we as HR leaders do to alleviate this problem? A few thoughts.
- Examine your employees’ workloads. Are you indeed over working them and asking for an unreasonable number of deliverables?
- Scale human capital and technical resources accordingly to match employee needs.
- Simplify the HR message and engage your employees more effectively. Communicate the importance of work/life balance, encourage vacation and help employees create a workplace process that allows them to maximize their productivity and reduce hours worked.
- Use the holidays as an excuse to reevaluate your organizational understanding of these issues and develop strategies for the New Year to help your overwhelmed employees.
Ultimately, employees that feel engaged, empowered and valued in the workplace goes a long way to increasing productivity, retention and impacting the financial bottom lines. So take a moment, and much like Ebenezer Scrooge, reevaluate your organizational priorities for the coming year.