Workplace wellbeing initiatives tend to concentrate on employees in general, rather than those at or near the top of organizations. Yet leaders are experiencing more strain than ever before, the incidence of stress and burnout is increasingly common, and emotional exhaustion is prevalent in most workplaces.
Senior leaders face a unique set of challenges and pressures that threaten their wellbeing – they perform specific and highly demanding roles, facing hourly challenges to their wellbeing…
- Leaders are predisposed to elevated anxiety because of the inherent nature of their work and the differences in responsibility and accountability from those more junior in the organisation.
- Senior people are under pressure to manage ever-increasing workloads, during periods of rapid organisational, societal and technological change, resulting in long working hours, in and out of the office.
- Constant connectivity can mean minimal ‘down-time’, interruptions to family life, a sense of never getting away from work and an opportunity to ‘just do one last thing’ late at night.
- Many leaders are struggling to find time for their loved ones, creating a unique stress of its own, and the potential for ongoing inner (and outer) conflict for the individual.
- Senior leaders are rewarded for ensuring the commercial and financial success of the organisation and tend to be strongly invested in the notion of material reward – yet research tells us that money can only buy happiness to some degree, and quickly fails to deliver past a threshold point. In fact what is becoming clear in the science of wellbeing, is that the pursuit of money and possessions seems to breed not happiness, but dissatisfaction, depression, anxiety, anger, isolation and alienation. Many executives recognise that there has to be ‘more to life’ and if this expectation is left unmet or ambiguous, wellbeing suffers.
Faced with these challenges, we know that executives are neglecting their own wellbeing to an alarming extent: a quick look at the statistics on obesity, mental illness and stress related physical illness tells the story.