Krist Pauwels

Not a day goes by without you reading, hearing or seeing something about stress, burn-outs or long-term absences from the job. More and more people seem to be buckling or breaking under the growing pressures that life and work impose on us. The speed with which the world revolves around us every day makes you giddy. There are so many changes, so many possibilities, so many threats and so many choices that we don’t know where or how to start in order to give our day the colour and meaning that we want.
It’s as if we have a tacit agreement with each other to work together in a vicious circle of permanent overpressure. In which we do our best, day in and day out, to hyper-perform, in order to be able to occasionally crash out in moments of rest. And if even this pattern no longer offers any solace, we will really go under for a longer time.
It is clear to everyone today that this work ethic makes no-one happy. It is also making companies and organisations increasingly active in the search for sustainable solutions that give people and the economy the necessary oxygen again. Perhaps we should dare to ask ourselves how we can step out of this sometimes crazy rat race without actually giving up.
There is one red thread in this quest today that again and again offers tactile perspectives and a safety vent. And that is the creation of space in order to give people’s feelings and emotions a place on the work floor. Over the years, we have created extremely rational environments in which each person tries to find and play his/her role. But where, at the same time, many underlying beliefs and emotions remain unvented or are wrongly projected onto one another.
If you ask people how they really feel or what actually takes place in a team, they often give surprising, and sometimes disheartening answers. We feel different under the counter from the way we behave above it. There is a hidden reality, of which everyone is aware, but which is not touched. Simply because we no longer know how to do that. It makes us push a lot of tension under the counter, which then creates acute breathing problems above it. With all the consequences this entails.
Places where employees, from the CEO to the warehouse staff, are given the chance to become aware of their own feelings and to share this, transform themselves nowadays at high speed. Those who can share their frustration, fear, uncertainty, but also their hopes or happiness at work in all openness, create a real connection beyond the surface of daily contact. And this makes a tangible difference. This vents what really drives us, and shows who we really are. We are a single human being, whether at work or at home. We are looking for a single balance, and should not have to choose between life and work. This gives peace, strength and resilience to ourselves, our society and our economy once again.
It is wonderful to see how more and more people in companies and organisations are tackling these kinds of levers in order to create a sustainable shift. There are CEOs with a more-than-solid track record who radically choose such a renewal, simply because it’s good for them, their employees and their business. But consciousness and the power of initiative are also growing in the belly of many organisations and companies, giving oxygen once again to the depleted paradigm of the ratio from the roots of our feelings. And that gives hope.