It’s the end of another year of constant change. We’ve got 2022 facing us quickly. Ever feel like the wheels keep churning and you’re in the middle of the wheel still trying to catch up?

I had to do a little research for a presentation last month, and a shocking statistic jumped out at me: There’s a 42% decline in mental health, according to recent Qualtrics survey – sadness, stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and trouble concentrating listed among the culprits.

In my own experiences as a consultant, I still find many employees are working longer hours, have back-to-back meetings all day- on Zoom, usually work into the evenings, and do not take their earned vacation time. Over-working has become a norm, and in many organizational cultures, a badge of honor: “I’m just so swamped.”

Listen leaders, and especially those top executives: this over-working pattern is learned from your behaviors. Organizational leaders are creating these environments and perpetuating mental health and physical health issues. For many employees under the burden of long work hours and heavy expectations, the only way to be absolved of this cycle is to quit, seeking a better culture fit.

If you are a leader, think about how you are modeling workplace culture. Do you have reasonable expectations of yourself and others? Are you constantly adding more projects, initiatives and tasks to your plate and your staff? Are you constantly changing directions, or adding new ideas so frequently, it sends staff into a tailspin? Perhaps your culture is designed to prove one’s worth by working long hours, putting out constant fires and emergencies, and creating more and more work. That’s not sustainable for you or for them!

This holiday, to show how much you care, end the year with a workplace shut-down, or providing additional time off or, making it mandatory to take time off already earned. And let them know you don’t want emails or calls from them on this time off.

For 2022, start by asking to see dates on the calendar of when they plan to take vacations. Real vacations, with real, restorative time. There’s nothing more precious now than the gift of time and health. If you want better retention, better culture, and sustained productivity, especially of your most valued, instill mental and physical health as paramount, and the rest will follow.