This morning on CBS Saturday News, I heard them report that 53% of people who work 55 plus hours a week are at a 33% increased risk for stroke. Yikes! That statistic speaks to salaried staff and most of the workforce in the conference & retreat center industry. This risk is associated with too much sitting, high levels of stress and increased blood pressure. Considering we manage expansive campuses, I suspect the miles we walk in a day eliminate the cause of inactivity. But what of the substantial hours clocked, high levels of stress and increased blood pressure? The answer: how you feel about work affects your stress level. In short, when you feel in control, the result is less stress.
The nature of our work is organic: guests needs arise, equipment malfunctions, weather creates immediate needs, and the broader business/social culture continuously evolves. The demands are relentless. What can we control? Our workload, our productivity, and our goals are critical, manageable pieces.
Industry is undergoing a massive change. Not since the industrial revolution has business felt pressure to evolve. Advances in technology bring efficiency and accuracy. Employees demand life-work balance. These associated costs run high. But, we work in a high-touch field where institutionalized work habits keep costs down by maintaining the status quo. Yet in an ever changing environment, the status quo is constantly challenged. Stress! How do we get the work get done if we don’t do it all our self? More stress!
Organizationally, here are a few suggestions for minimizing workload, increasing productivity, and achieving goals.
Shift your leadership style from command/control to inspiration/motivation. Work alongside your team. Share observations about performance as they arise. Remember positive reinforcement requires 5 compliments to 1 criticism. When appropriate, delegate more responsibility. Promote advancement opportunities to your team. Dump the task of annual performance reviews as your feedback should be an ongoing conversation.
Use your staff wisely. Don’t be tied to the old organizational chart. Tap into their creativity and naturally collaborative ways. Solicit staff input regarding professional development. Allow unsavory tasks to be shared. The social component will speed up the work and diminish the displeasure. When guests are present, allow flexible schedules including longer shifts for better guest service coverage and reduced work weeks.
Redefine processes. Abandon manual reports by having a customizable report created by your reservation software company. Move up your date to receive guaranteed information from guests. Require payment for retreats upon arrival. Use a wall calendar to schedule all staff. The goal of redefining processes is to eliminate extra steps such as double entry of information, phone calls for late information, mailing of invoices, and overlapping staffing that come with department “ silo” scheduling.
Don’t forget there are personal habits we can adopt too. Try deep breathing exercises, eat lunch away from our desks, meditate in our chapels, or walk the grounds amidst nature. Throughout the day, give yourself permission to take the time you need to switch gears. Then, take it!