When then-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation earlier this year, and gave her reason for doing so, there’s no doubt plenty of people across the country breathed a hefty sigh of relief.
Finally, a senior figure being honest about needing a break.
Ardern cited one of the reasons for her resignation as not having enough in the tank, and lacking the “bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along”. We can all relate to that – you don’t have to be the Prime Minister to know how it feels to be running on empty.
More importantly, Ardern’s admission to being worn out should serve as a reminder to all of us. Wellbeing, and bringing our best selves to work requires constant effort and self-evaluation. Her resignation is also a reminder that work is just one part of our lives. Our wellbeing is also impacted by our personal lives, and the environment in which we work, live and play. Unsurprisingly, that balance looks different for all of us.
When someone says they’re burnt out or running on empty, it’s our role as employers, colleagues, friends or family to take that at face value. We shouldn’t be speculating on someone’s rationale or prying into their personal life. The most important question we should ask is ‘why’ – so we can avoid it happening again, or to someone else – and to help that person ’fill their tank’ again.
The best thing we can all do is focus on reflecting on what it takes to fill a tank.
Yes, this is a call-to-action for employers – but also for employees and colleagues. If you pride yourself on your organisation’s values and culture, especially in the post-Covid-19 landscape, make sure you’re walking the talk.
At SenateSHJ, our values are clear for all to see, and one of them is “united”. It plays an important role in not only delivering the best for our clients, but also ensuring our team has each other’s backs so we can share the load. Being united means keeping an eye on each other’s fuel gauge and helping to top it up where we can.
As a working mother with a young child myself, the choice to come to work each day is a conscious decision. It’s a trade-off. Time spent working is time away from my daughter, and it certainly makes my life busier. But the energy and fulfilment I get from work, and the rapport with my colleagues, flows over into my home life. I know I’m a better parent, wife and friend for it. The right role with the right employer can work wonders in helping to keep the tank full – but like any relationship, the employee-employer partnership requires nurture, shared objectives, and picking up each other’s slack from time to time.
On the other hand, life moves fast and things change. What used to refill someone’s tank may simply not do so anymore.
We all have worthy contributions to make in all aspects of our lives, and to do that we must make sure we’ve got the balance right. The best thing we can do for ourselves, and for our friends, family and colleagues, is to focus on what really keeps our tank full. That will make an important contribution to our wellbeing.