Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
Taking time off over the Christmas break could be the best thing hard-working Australians do to set themselves up for success in 2012, suggests an expert from the world’s largest leadership development organisation, The Executive Connection (TEC).

With a quarter of the population working more than 50 hours a week and many taking only three and a half of the available 20 days paid annual leave a year, Australians are risking burn-out of both mind and body.

“Working too hard, for too long can have serious negative impacts on mental health and physical health. It’s common to become irritable, fatigued, stressed and depressed after a long period of responding to high pressure situations like the multitude of decisions that need to be made in a workday,” TEC Chair Jerry Kleeman says.

“Now with sophisticated technological advances we remain ‘switched on’ even long after leaving the office. Maintaining this never-ending connection to work can lead to addiction, lack of sleep and even affect your demeanour.”

This lifestyle can’t be sustained, says Jerry. And if we try, it won’t just be ourselves, family and friends who suffer, but also the holy grail of work itself.

“The first thing to go when work becomes increasingly demanding is your health. It’s easy to skip gym sessions to work longer hours and consume more coffee and sugar to stay alert, or on the flipside, alcohol to help relax. It’s not a healthy cycle and it’s only a matter of time until you get sick and are forced to stay away from the office,” he warns.

“Plus, some of the most creative ideas come when you stop thinking about them. It’s the way us humans are wired – we need the opportunity to switch off, to come back firing on all four cylinders. It’s actually to the detriment of the workplace if its people – including the boss – try to push through forever and a day.”

“The advice I give to CEOs and business leaders in my TEC group is to lead by example and take some much needed time away from the workplace. All managers should encourage their employees to take time off during the holiday season, and they should certainly heed their own advice.”

“A great way to do it is to get together at the beginning of the year and schedule in each other’s diaries when you plan to take a holiday, so your colleagues and manager can hold you accountable. Their support and commitment in the endeavour can help get you get excited and finish work feeling comfortable and positive, rather than dreading your return.”

TEC Chair Jerry Kleeman identifies the following benefits of “switching off”:

• Reducing fatigue – Sleep is essential in the brain’s recovery process to increase mental alertness and it will noticeably improve over the course of your time off.

• Improving mental health – Long work hours can induce stress, anxiety and depression. Taking time off will alleviate stress and combat built-up anxiety, allowing your mind to rest and relax.

• Improving physical wellbeing – Time off improves healthy cardiovascular activity to reduce the risk of heart attack, as well as promoting a more active lifestyle.

• Recovering work/life balance – Time away from the office helps to restore the important balance needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle, along with getting back lost time with your family.

• Increasing awareness upon return – Research has shown that after time away from the office, individual performance levels and alertness in the workplace increase, creating better time efficiency and productivity.

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The Executive Connection

The Executive Connection (TEC) is the Australian affiliate of Vistage International, Inc. with more than 14,500 members in 16 countries worldwide. It is the world’s foremost chief executive leadership group for ongoing professional and personal development, helping business CEOs become better leaders, make better decisions and drive better results for their organisations. TEC membership provides unparalleled access to new ideas and fresh thinking through monthly peer think-tanks, one-on-one business coaching and speaker presentations from the top industry experts, social networking and access to best practice articles, white papers and webinars.
Julia Loughlin
P: (08) 8233 5927


business, peer support, holiday, switching off, The Executive Connection, wellbeing, mental health, physical wellbeing



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