When LifeWorks was acquired by Morneau Shepell in August, the deal was a validation of the business strategy and all the hard work that’s gone into making that vision a reality. We’re in the business of helping create healthier, happier, more productive people, and I couldn’t very well promote or sell that business if I wasn’t healthy, happy and productive myself.
When it comes to work-life balance, the CEO has to be a role model for an organisation. Successful leaders work at building a culture that promotes work-life balance because they know from personal experience that doing so pays off. There’s plenty of research out there that shows that employees perform better for bosses who care about them but that really should just be common sense.
As a CEO, or a leader, or a manager, you play a big role in your organisation’s success – in large part through your influence on how engaged employees are with the business as a whole and with their own work specifically. In fact, if you manage people, you are their primary point of human contact with the organisation and the one best positioned to improve their engagement.
Part of what I do personally and a small part of what LifeWorks aims to achieve is to make connections with people and help them connect with others in the organisation. Employees want to feel a connection with their team, their boss, their CEO and the business as a whole. That connection facilitates working relationships that enable better performance. Employees’ support for each other and the information they exchange will help them give their best.
We know from research that employees who are engaged at work—who like their jobs and feel motivated to give their best—are more productive. And we know from our own conversations with customers, that high levels of engagement are linked to people retention, better customer service, higher rates of employee commitment, better teamwork, and organisational profitability. It’s an often-quoted statistic in the world of employee engagement that the number one reason people leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated – but it’s deeper than that. The majority of workers still don’t receive recognition and that can turn into a negativity that can scare off your customers. There’s even some suggestion that the extra stress from having a bad boss can increase your chance of a stroke.
So how you as a person manage your own work life and personal life really comes across when it comes to responding to other people’s work-life needs. This applies in all aspects of life, so the same is true for colleagues, employees, partners and children. Do your people feel comfortable taking time off from work to attend to personal matters? Do your people feel comfortable calling in sick when they are too ill to work? Do you know when it is easy for them to work longer hours and when it would be a real hardship? Understanding these aspects of their lives will make it easier for your team to get the work done, reduce stress, and meet their personal as well as their professional obligations. The more control you are able to give people over how, when, and where they do their work, the more satisfied and effective they are likely to be.
Your ability to get the best out of yourself and others is really important in a position of leadership. When it comes to business, especially as an entrepreneur, you have to show that you are hungry, that you’re not naive and that you can deliver. One of my first businesses turned down an investment because taking the money would have taken away some of the drive to grow the business and make it profitable. But mainly it meant someone else would have been telling us what to do when it came to building the business.
It comes down to identifying your priorities and sticking to them but also – and this is the hard part – finding a balance between those priorities. Some activities will be non-negotiable, such as a board meeting, or a family wedding, but it’s up to you to work on determining what parts of your life are most important—your business, your faith, family, friends, sports, music, or the volunteer work that you do. Trying to fit all of these in may be difficult and achieving a balance is important but it’s OK if it slips sometimes too. At some points in my life my work-life balance has gone sideways but as long as you recognise it and have the desire to bring it back to equilibrium, then you’re doing OK. It’s those times that have forced me to grow my capacity. Learning how to ‘sing in the rain’ is a valuable asset for an entrepreneur and being able to handle what’s thrown at us.
We’re all busy people but you have to be generous with your time when it comes to your priorities, whether that’s family, friends or business. You also have to be generous with time for yourself too. Self-care is crucial – make sure to exercise, eat well, relax and unwind. I love what I do and it’s become a state of mind – busy and happy don’t need to be conflicting states and I know that I can’t do everything myself. Of course, you have to have people you trust in to carry out your vision and make sure your business is a success, but part of not being naïve is knowing that you don’t know everything. One of the most useful things is having a mentor – and I’ve been lucky enough to have had some really great ones. These are people who have done it before, who are open-minded and have your best interests at heart and can really inspire you. Because when someone inspires you as a mentor, you never want to let them down.
Jamie True, CEO, LifeWorks
Jamie is the CEO and driving force behind LifeWorks. Combining energy and positivity, he is deeply passionate about technology and how it can be used to create positive change in our world today. With a proven track record of growing technology companies from the ground up, Jamie founded WorkAngel in 2013, the power brand that drives employee engagement, retention and satisfaction for some of the most significant companies in the world. WorkAngel merged with Ceridian LifeWorks in 2016 with Jamie serving as the CEO of LifeWorks.