By Katy Blevins, Co-Founder of The Modern Femme™ Movement
Shani Godwin learned it from her Dad. "You are not your job." What defines her? Well, she's Shani. I would say "And that's all," but that would be a poor choice of words. She's Shani. And that's enough.
At 27 years old, she ditched the corporate train in pursuit of her passion. She just couldn't envision a life that allowed her to be a highly productive employee and also a fully present wife and mom. So she took the leap to chart her own course in advertising, marketing and communications.
In a challenging arena that is often wrought with burnout and fast-paced deadlines, she held true to the philosophy of her father and developed a business that promised productive, high quality support to its clients, but also took great care of its employees.
Communiqué USA, Inc. grew organically, adding new members to the team as they got busier and busier, thriving on an open dialogue that allowed every employee to set their personal threshold, putting their very best foot forward in confidence that they would not be swiftly overwhelmed.
"There is balance in theory, and there is balance in application. I wanted to build a company that didn't deliver the "lip service" version, but the real life, practiced version. I had to standardize balance in our organization. A strange way to describe it, but that's what it was. Structured balance that was baked into the very core of our company."
HR Official: The 7PM Email Ban Policy
Communiqué's email ban policy is not just a conceptual idea, it's a formal policy in the company handbook! From the top down, employees are not allowed to send or respond to any emails after 7PM or on weekends. For those on vacation or out sick, they are left alone to recover and refresh.
When performance reviews role around each year, employee merits are not measured by the hours they put into their projects, but rather by the quality of their completed works (and their adherence to the email ban!). Extra points are not earned by breaking the policy, but rather by keeping it and presenting their best, most present selves to their clients and by doing a great job.
How It Works
"It's funny," Shani says, "We often have to remind employees to follow the rule. In fact, we spend their first 90 days on the job detoxing them from the bad habits that were ingrained in and upon them in other positions. Sometimes it can be difficult to get them to stop working, but we're committed to teaching them how to put work aside to embrace a fulfilled life outside of the office."
Shani also honestly admits that down time would be impossible for anyone in leadership, herself included, if she didn't put systems in place that required employees to step away regularly. Allowing leadership to unplug also encourages employees to proactively seek solutions and more effectively and confidently manage their work. They are empowered to do phenomenal work because they are enriched, fulfilled and trusted in their roles.
Why It Works
It comes as no surprise that communication is another core principle at Communiqué, both internally and externally. Contracts are openly negotiated with clients to include personal boundaries, crafting deliberate commitments and expectations that protect life outside the office for both the client and the managing employees. Clients still often send emails at all hours of the day and night, but they are aware of the boundaries in place and confidently expect a reply the next morning. Employees are fresh, motivated and focused. Clients are happy and impressed with the end results. Win/win.
The Paradigm Shift Our Country Needs
Our country's culture has mistakenly married hard work with long hours. We reward those who work the most hours and judge those who clock in less. This philosophy is a poor metric of success, pushing our workforce to the absolute brink, welcoming diminishing returns that chip away at productivity and deplete our energy and focus. Working hard is not the same as working long. Hard work is hard work. Performance is not a time based metric.
"If you're doing great work, if you're valuable...that will be there the next day. The work will always be there the next day. We give back to our employees so that they can be with their families. They can come back to life. They in turn give us their very best and brightest every day. Life outside of work is a conscious, concerted effort. It's my passion to help people realize they are not their job. Work is just a means to an end. That end is a life outside of the office. Fight for your time and protect it! I may not be able to compete with the compensation packages of Fortune 500 companies, but I attract really amazing people. Why? Because I have other currency in mind. Their time. Their lives."
How much longer will we continue to run ourselves ragged? We have the data. We know the truth. Well-balanced, fulfilled employees are the keystone of companies that enjoy higher productivity levels and lower turnover rates. Who else in America will follow Shani's lead? Who else will let the rest of the world know that France is not the only country willing to place its bet on the heart of the human race?