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    The Workplace HAS Reached the Breaking Point

    “Pieces of my teeth fell out last week.  I haven’t had time to go to the dentist.” When a CEO told me that, this blog idea was born.

    Tipping point!  His teeth are falling out, and he can’t get that fixed because he’s too busy?  Wonder how lunch was in that state.  Have you been wondering, as I have: When does workplace expectation and pressure simply become too much? (See accompanying video.)

    We at LifeLine think the breaking point has been reached, but we are not sure that global businesses agree.  Or maybe leaders and employees know that ultra max grind has arrived, but they choose to suffer silently.  Or maybe we all know the pressure is too great, but we have no idea what to do about it.

    How do you know when the pressure of 24/7 frenzy and overload is too much?  When is “suck it up” a tired cliché that doesn’t answer core business questions?

    Our answer is: when the costs of pressure hurt your organization’s bottom line, the health and effectiveness of your employees, and your ability to serve your customers well.

    This is a blog to invite comment on and clarify:

    •  What is the cost of pressure and overload to organizations and leaders?  We want to start specifying the consequences so that business and government take notice.
    • What are common reactions and tendencies of leaders and employees to stress levels heightened by little down time, gadgets, global connection and competition, and high expectation?
    • How might one respond to the pace and anxiety of Workplace 2012?

    We believe it is time to start specifying the consequences.

    Can we admit, for example, that there is a limit to downsizing and multitasking?  Who knows where that is?  But we can at least approximate where that limit is by describing what is happening to our organizations and our people.

    We’ll start.  Here are some of the costs we are hearing from our LifeLine customers:

    • Lost Sales. An overwhelmed executive is too busy to respond to customers who want his product, so he loses the business.
    • Fewer Product and Service Offerings. Human and business resources too compromised elsewhere to come together to launch a new product line.
    • Fewer Creative Ideas. Less ability to differentiate your business.  Because people are always “doing,” many top people – those from whom your business requires their minds – say they are buried, with no time to develop transformational ideas.  “Thinking is the most important part of my job,” says a telecommunications executive, “and I have no time to think.”

    And as Renee once said to Jack Bauer on 24, “I’m just getting started, Jack.”

    So our question to you is this:

    Is anyone else out there thinking about the business and human impacts of pressure and overload?

    Let us know your experience – what are the costs and impacts?  We will respond with upcoming posts, including some thoughts on the connection of anxiety to business bottom lines.

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