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National Work Life Week

Leadership development and workplace well being

By Alex Speed, ASK MD 

This week is ‘National Work Life Week’ – an awareness campaign which you’ll be hearing a lot about if you’re present in any professional networks, or active on LinkedIn.

This isn’t the first time one of our articles has focused on workplace culture, and the enormous changes everyone has had to face in the last two years – we know you must be sick of reading about the impact of the pandemic, the fallout of Brexit, the wobbly economy, and seeing phrases like “the great resignation” in every professional channel…but there’s a reason everyone’s still talking about it. Our own recent article covered how to create the right kind of culture in your organisation so we don’t need to repeat ourselves – instead we’ll concentrate on why it matters.

How we work, where we work, who we work with, why we work and what we want to achieve – all these things look different today than they looked as we stepped into this new decade, and it gives leaders everywhere an opportunity to adapt the way they run their teams, and reshape the future of their organisations.

What is National Work Life Week?

National Work Life Week is an opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on well-being at work and work-life balance. Employers can use the week to provide activities for staff, and to showcase their flexible working policies and practices.

Whatever industry you are in, however big or small your organisation, everyone has seen similar themes in their own team. People hitting burnout, a push for ongoing flexibility and remote work, roles adapted to suit changed needs and a different work life balance.

It’s the responsibility of every business leader to understand what their people need from them, and to create a culture in their organisation that nurtures, protects and develops those people. To listen more than you speak, and to balance the goals of the business with the individuals within it.

A culture which holds people together in the most difficult times, and provides support when people stumble – but also provides the tools for them to develop and expand their skills and experience to prevent stumbling again.

Some think that better workplace culture falls back onto novelty – themed team bonding days, pizzas delivered at lunch time, sweets in the office, a bean bag in the meeting room…but though these are all examples of things that your people might enjoy, those aren’t the things that your people really need.

Some seem to think that leadership means proving that you’re the boss; that you issue commands that they ought to follow, and that it’s important that they know you’re the one with the power…this is another thing we’ve discussed before in a piece called “How to avoid being a bossy boss” but every single piece of data evidences that the biggest reason someone will leave a role is a bad boss, and not feeling valued.

Investing in Leadership Development
leads organisational wide change

What your team really need is to trust their managers. To feel that their place there is appreciated, and that the work they deliver is valued. That their personal lives and professional development matter as much to the organisation as they do to the individual – and that who they are outside of their role in the office is important.

Of course, we know that fully remote teams – the way we all had to work during the pandemic – doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s important for successful team working that there’s plenty of chances for people to communicate informally in a shared space. We aren’t suggesting you shut down your head office and send everyone a Zoom invite – but there’s a lot of room between a 40+ hour office week with long commutes and a totally home-based role. Some informality and flexibility in where and when people work frees them up to take better care of themselves, get some down time, save some time and costs on travel, and still benefit from office time.

A parent being able to leave early to pick their kids up from school, come in late to see them perform in assembly, matters. Someone with a sick parent being able to work from home occasionally, to be present for them, matters. It might be a trip to the vet for an injured pet. All of those things come with love, with guilt, with an emotional impact- which in turn impacts the work someone can (or can’t) do – and insisting that someone must be in the office because ‘that’s the way it’s always been’ will bring added stress and pressure. Pressure which might just make someone crack. You certainly wouldn’t be getting their best work when they’ve got those issues on their mind – but giving your employees the trust to deliver their work flexibly, to get to those assemblies, to support their family, to care and be cared for, builds respect, and a mutual commitment. Knowing that you care means that they will care in return, and be loyal to the employer that supports them.

Make the small changes - and the big wins will come

Rather than setting rigid working hours, and demanding that people clock in and out, leave them some room for trust. Trust that they’ll hit their targets, that their projects will be completed, that they are…well, adults, who are perfectly capable of managing their own time and workload. As long as that trust isn’t abused you may even find that they deliver better, more consistent and higher quality work because you give them flexibility and aren’t stood over them, cracking the whip.

It can be hard, if your culture and environment has always tended towards that very formal and structured model, to adjust – but we guarantee that if your leaders trust people, and give their employees more autonomy, your organisation will benefit.

Changing that status quo isn’t an overnight fix – it’s a long and consistent process, and one which takes buy in and commitment from every single member of the team – but it’s worth the investment of your time.

It also takes expertise and experience – which is where we come in.

Cultural change is currently the programme that we receive the most enquiries about. The topic that every client, past and present, wants to focus their development investment in. At ASK we have three decades of experience in leadership development, and in that time we have seen the world of business change enormously – and we have consistently developed and evolved too, which gives us unique insight into embedding change in organisations of every scale, in a wide range of different industries globally.


If National Work Life Week has given you pause for thought, and you recognise that your team would benefit from some development and support in embracing the changes that you’re facing, we can help. Don’t lose your best employees to an organisation more willing and able to support their needs: call today to find out what we can do for you, or fill in your details below and we’ll get in touch.

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