Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and author of The Sleep Revolution, reveals her thoughts on how business owners can make better decisions and use their time more wisely.
Addressing World Business Forum in Sydney, Arianna said that businesses and their people who operate under the traditional version of what constitutes success are severely limiting their overall potential.
Describing how the measure of human life has been shrunken down to success or failure, and the measure of success has in turn been limited to money and power/status, Arianna says there is “now, for the first time in history, we have unequivocal evidence” of a third metric of measuring – and delivering – success.
“When businesses take care of the wellbeing of their employees, it improves the bottom line,” she said.
Arianna continued by noting the substantial research that has shown the negative impacts stress, anxiety and mental health problems bring to business, including attrition, lower productivity, lower morale, absenteeism and presenteeism – all of which are creating a growing strain on the bottom line of businesses around the world.
The issue hit home for quite strongly when she literally collapsed as a result of burnout, fracturing her cheek in the fall.
“Since the first industrial revolution, we started treating human beings like machines. And if you think about it, the goal of machines is to minimise downtime. But the human operating system is not built like a machine,” said Arianna, referring to the need for humans to have downtime and sleep.
She noted that even in the Christian bible’s story of creation, God rested on the seventh day.
“There is a great study from an Australian university that proves working 24/7 has the result, the cognitive equivalent, of coming to work drunk.
“You don’t often congratulate employees for coming to work drunk – yet we regularly congratulate employees for working 24/7, for being always on, or answering texts and messages in the middle of the night.”
According to Arianna, the ability to make sound decisions is the most important trait for every business leader, empowering them to be able to see opportunities and risks before others see it, which she said is “a huge competitive advantage”.
Arianna suggested that in the not-too-distant future, business leaders and the board members of large companies may be required to outline their personal sleep and mental wellbeing habits such as meditation, in order to demonstrate their competency for making key decisions, as well as to lead their workforce by example.
Of course, running a business takes up a lot of precious time, which can eat into what should be your leisure time, particularly if left unchecked.
To help combat this, Arianna has these tips for keeping control of your time:
- Remove all technology from the bedroom, especially mobile phones: “Our phones are the portals to every aspect of our lives.”
- Make meetings more productive: ban phones, give attendees notebooks for making notes, keep meetings short and to the point, and don’t rehash minutes of the last meeting or assumed knowledge – it is just that, assumed.
- Remember that technology is a tool, nothing more: “Use technology to your advantage, but don’t let it be your master.”
*Image courtesy of The Huffington Post