Work makes Americans unhealthy, unhappy and insecure

Americans today expect work to be at odds with their personal health, happiness and security.

We spend at least half of our awake adult lives working, which increasingly involves things like eating unhealthy food, staying up late and missing out on time with family.

But why?

Because that’s the standard we’ve set in corporate culture. A company’s "hero" is the person who starts early, stays late and makes work their #1 priority. As individuals we all have an innate desire to succeed, to achieve, to grow, to want to do good and to be valuable. For many of us, our access to the way we want to feel, to our success at work is to be more like the hero.

It was weird, when I started working at Habits at Work, my world was flipped around. I was used to being in the office at my desk at 7 AM and going home at 7 PM. I loved my work and more importantly I loved being great at what I did: beating deadlines and impressing colleagues. When I joined Habits at Work, I was sent a team handbook to read before I started. It mentioned casually how most of the team comes into the office around 10 AM and works from home on Fridays. I thought, "that’s nice to say and we’ll see what really happens when I show up."

One month in I was still coming in at 7 or 8 am and seeing my colleagues come in at 10. I would work and work and work so much that our founder, Andrew Sykes, told me to go home, to enjoy time with my wife and to leave the office. It was hard to do. I felt guilty, even though our culture is about taking care of yourself, and making sure you are healthy, happy and secure SO THAT you can show up to work at your best.

The corporate hero archetype was embedded so strong into me.

It did not take long to understand why Andrew wanted me to go home. He wanted me to work in the ways I worked best and NOT the ways I thought I should be working to impress him or others. It was a freeing feeling, having the autonomy expressly given to me to be conscious about my most efficient work habits which include taking walks, working from home, taking mid-day naps and working at odd times.

In having flexibility with my work, I’ve been able tap into flow more often in my work. I now work smarter, at the times I’m most efficient, avoiding time sucks like peak traffic hours for commuting and unnecessary meetings. By being more efficient and flexible, I’ve also found myself more engaged on a DAILY basis and have avoided those days and weeks where I felt totally burnt out. I show up better every single day because I take care of myself first and the company second.

By flipping the standard of what makes a corporate hero on its head, our team has changed our world of work from one that takes away from our ability to thrive to one that enhances it.

What if we could get other companies to flip the script as well?

That’s the exciting mission my team and I are on. Our focus is on driving company performance by helping change the world of work, one company at a time.


Join us at WORK ROOM Seattle

If you want to know more about how you can begin to change your corporate hero archetype, join us at WORK ROOM, where Andrew and I work alongside business leaders to challenge their status quo while soaking in our 10+ years of research on employee performance and creating their own optimal roadmap for employee performance.

This post was authored by Aaron Levy.

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