The Perils of Perpetual Urgency: Nurturing Balance in the Workplace
In recent years, “urgency” has begun to feel like a constant companion. While a sense of urgency can drive productivity and innovation, we can all agree that an environment where everything is deemed urgent can have detrimental effects. I think we can all agree that balance in the workplace is a much better alternative.
When everything moves fast-paced in business, it can be difficult to slow down, but it has become clear that mitigating urgency within organizations is of paramount importance as it directly impacts the well-being of employees and the overall health of the organization. A constant state of urgency can lead to burnout, heightened stress levels, and compromised mental health among employees, ultimately eroding job satisfaction and productivity. Additionally, this environment can impede the company’s ability to make well-informed decisions, deliver high-quality work, and foster a culture of creativity and innovation.
We believe that a few ways leaders can help their organizations begin to achieve balance in the workplace is by embracing the following strategies.
Prioritize Effectively: Encourage clear communication about the true urgency of tasks.
- How: Implement a structured prioritization system that distinguishes between tasks that genuinely require immediate attention and those that can be addressed later.
- Why: This helps employees focus their efforts where they matter most.
- What: At Edgility, we use project management platforms like Monday.com to lay out tasks, priority levels, and due dates, so our staff have a clear idea of what is on their plates.
Set Realistic Expectations: Be clear that not everything should be treated as a fire that needs immediate extinguishing.
- How: Establish realistic timelines for tasks and projects. Respect time off, and encourage employees to unplug.
- Why: Setting achievable goals reduces stress and allows for more thoughtful and thorough work.
- What: Our staff is encouraged to schedule messages via Gmail and Slack that are not urgent, especially during hours when employees are not expected to be working or when they are on vacation. We introduce this to staff during the onboarding process when we discuss communication norms.
Promote Time Management: Provide resources and training on effective time management techniques.
- How: Survey your employees about what might help them manage their workloads better. Review your current programs and techniques, and if necessary, identify alternative options.
- Why: When employees are equipped with skills to manage their time efficiently, they can better handle urgent situations without sacrificing their well-being or the quality of their work.
- What: Toren Triepke, a member of our search team, developed a document that laid out the expected amount of time it will take to complete various administrative tasks for her team. This effective time management tool quickly spread across our organization as a way to set realistic timelines for various projects.
Encourage Open Communication: Create an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns.
- How: Create time for regular check-ins and opportunities for feedback
- Why: Regular check-ins and open discussions can help identify areas where urgency may be manufactured unnecessarily and allow for course correction.
- What: Edgility Founders and Managing Partners Christina Greenberg and Allison Wyatt, meet with staff members who they do not directly manage at least once a quarter for skip-level meetings to gather feedback from staff for consideration during strategic decision-making.
Embracing Balance to Thrive
Creating a work environment that deeply values equilibrium has the potential to catalyze a profound transformation in the way a company functions. In a balanced workplace, leaders acknowledge the nuanced nature of tasks, refraining from treating every issue as an urgent crisis. By doing so, they foster a culture where teams are empowered to operate with a focus on efficiency and effectiveness, rather than merely rushing through tasks. This strategic shift brings forth a myriad of benefits that resonate throughout the organization.
Ultimately, this transformation extends its impact beyond the realm of daily operations, positioning the company on a trajectory of sustainable growth, improved resilience in the face of challenges, and a reputation as an employer of choice in the competitive landscape.