Berna Özdemirkan

October 2018 – Brandmap: 

Did people really work more easily in the good old days? Were they less tired? When did our parents come home from work everyday? Did they spend more time with their children or let them growing on their own? For several years, many people in working life are suffering from burnout syndrome. Whoever you talk, they tell you that they plan to settle in Aegean region. Some quit their decade-long corporate lives to chase their dreams and put out great shows that inspire numerous employees who couldn’t yet achieve their dreams, some open up meatball restaurants somewhere in the south, some begin managing a guest house and some a boutique hotel. Why do most people want to quit their jobs with monthly regular pays and set sail for uncertainty?

Why is everyone walking around with teary-eyes because the summer is over? They cannot get enough of vacation. They don’t want to return to work. I look at our kids who will be the business people of the future, there is the very same syndrome in them, too. Lie around for three months, and then suddenly forced to keep up with the academic pace. Almost all schools organize orientation activities just before the opening week to facilitate the kids’ adaptation to school when they are back. The employees don’t even have the luxury of three months. What they get is a vacation of three weeks at maximum (and that’s thanks to national holidays). Is it because we are so tired and bored that even three weeks long vacation is not enough and we don’t want to return to work?

I am conducting various surveys, one-on-one interviews and group chats with employees for years. You can count many issues like recognition, career opportunities, training and pay, but wanting to escape from a workplace, going to work by dragging your feet, complaining that summer is over… These are not normal. Come on, let’s first hold hands and accept that this is not normal. It is neither logical to expect efficiency from people that you bring to work by force. We spend half of the day in the workplace, so we need to enjoy that place.

Let’s start with that last phrase. Why are we at a work place for the half of the day? Who had turned this into our normal? Who was that very first manager to shout “where are you going?” to an employee leaving the desk when the working hours were over? Bring that person to me!J The legal weekly working hours in Turkey is much longer than European countries. Let’s leave aside what the laws say. The company managers may easily make a reasonable working schedule enabling to get the highest efficiency from their employees.

Above all, company managers must pay the highest attention to hire the right people for the job. They need to understand the expectations of these people from the business life and their values in life. Because what makes us is these values, and these values are the same at both home and work. For example, employees giving the highest value to ‘family’ will want to be right beside their kids in the first day of the school, and they will also want to be there at their year-end-shows. They will care about work and life balance. Why? To work less? No. To spend time with their families when needed. And when this can’t be done, they will beg for a never-ending summer. They cannot keep their mind on work in such a day, and you cannot get the efficiency you wish. However, if you give them a half day off for the first day of school, they would be motivated to easily finish the day’s work in their remaining time. I exemplified it through kids, but I would not want to offend the singles. This was the first example to come to my mind, being a mother. The time changes, the needs change, the technology opens new opportunities. Is it reasonable not to benefit from those opportunities? The options such as flexible hours and work from home should be available for all. Many job profiles don’t require spending a whole day in the office. There are job descriptions that work can be handled from anywhere just with a laptop and a network connection. Imagine how motivating it would be for employees to spend one day of the week at home; having their breakfast without hurry, taking a cup of coffee or tea and spending their time before their computer without hours on road. And since there will be no one around, they can prepare the report that will take two hours at workplace just in one hour without being distracted. They can move on to another job in the remaining time. They can even begin enjoying it when you stop defining ‘work’ as ‘work’.

We are talking about the education system for years, showing Finland as an example. As parents, we are amazed at their success in Finland. Our training system lacks some dimension to prevent the kids to see the school as an obligation or burden. It is normally a great thing to learn and experience new things everyday? If the system can truly provide it, then no kid will be sorry that the summer is over and the school is opening. I think the same thing is valid for the business life. If we can do our job with pleasure and efficiency working with the right permanent staff, if we can have the flexibility to allocate time to ourselves, then the number of people experiencing that burnout syndrome will decrease gradually.

And the first step to achieve this is “trust”. As long as there is no trust between the employee and the employer, it is hard to arrive at that point. The companies that are on the road to establish the concepts of trust, cooperation, achieving together, enjoying achievement together will continue to win.

As I mentioned above, you should know the employees with their expectations and values, guide them towards jobs accordingly, let them have some freedom even if it still has some rules. Since otherwise, the mind of the employee will not be on work but on dreams.