Historically, I had a bittersweet relationship with Friday afternoons. You may, too. 

Vividly I recall working in healthcare facilities, the apprehension I felt as the clock ticked past 4 pm: The weekend was near, but so was the time of day when work bombs often appear. 

You know the work bomb, often introduced with a late Friday afternoon call where the person on the other side of the line has issues, none of them good: A contractor kicked offsite because they violated an ILSM, a project shut down because the demo contractor tracked asbestos through hospital corridors, an OR slated to open Monday morning that failed a pressurization test, again.

The Friday afternoon surprise was never a good way to head into the weekend.

When surprises occur on Friday afternoon, you often have a hastily called conference call. Nobody really wants to call in, but you have to, it’s what you do. And depending upon the severity of the issue, additional calls may be scheduled for the weekend. Or perhaps there are no calls, but you are told to be glued to your device in the event other issues arise.

On these weekends, you are off work, but you aren’t. You feel apprehension as you scan your inbox, hoping there are no new emails. Has the issue abated, or did it worsen? What mess will Monday morning bring? Why do I do this to myself? These are all weekend questions you may ask yourself. 

I have no more rabbits to pull

So as l look forward to a fall weekend this Friday, I am reminded of my past Friday afternoons. I am also reminded of a conversation I had with a Facilities Director. An accomplished leader, he’s tired of the constant battle to, as he said, pull rabbits out of my hat. With his staff cut and budget reduced, his rabbits are disappearing. He has no more.  

He didn’t take a vacation this summer, he said there was too much going on. He hopes to take consecutive days off at Thanksgiving but isn’t sure he can. And because of this, he was calling to ask about prospects in the interim director market. He said he probably had another year of direct employment left in him, but the demands are constant and unabating. 

His story is probably similar to yours. His story is a warning. As rabbits disappear, so may the people, the supervisors, managers, directors, and tradespeople who have traditionally found the rabbits. 

If you don’t respect your employees’ work/life balance, they will leave. If your employees don’t feel like they can take a day without feeling the pressure of work, they will leave. If your employees leave, you may not be far behind.

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