03/05/2014 12:51 pm ET Updated May 05, 2014

Sustainable Creative Careers

Co-written by Guido Prick

Creative professionals' work is often so seductive that they forget everyone and everything around them, including themselves and the people they love. This can happen to creative people from all walks of life that fall into the trap of "all work and no play."

Development departments are often the first to suffer with burnouts and high divorce rates. Work-life balance is a personal matter, of course, however, with organizations committing to internal and external triple-bottom-line thinking, how might they possibly assist creative professionals to maintain sustainable careers?

It starts with a company deciding to instill a more healthy approach for both their employees and their bottom-line. Because as company targets become tougher, the truly creative employee desires to make a difference for their company and it becomes increasingly difficult to stop and exercise one's work-life balance...

We all know the sweet taste of victory, the feeling of having accomplished something that everyone else considered impossible. Yet, we also know this result cannot be achieved on an assembly line, 24/7, 365 days a year. One can only burn at the highest energy level for a short time before one burns out - eventually completely and forever.

That's where the company must want to make a change by sending clear signals that just working long hours is not a value point, and that if this behavior continues for more than 6 months, it will be sanctioned. The company then reduces the risk of an overworked employee making mistakes, suffering work-related accidents and long-term health damages as well as demotivation. The employee is nudged to become more aware of resources devoted in comparison to results produced and recognition received. Perhaps eventually re-thinking whether this might be the right position for them at this time in their life and career.

After all, one of the beauties of the triple-bottom-line is its applicability to both business and private life. So, when one finds oneself putting too many resources into a project of mediocre outcome, It is perhaps best to stop and reconsider, since, the sooner this is realized, the sooner one can switch gears for the betterment of everyone involved.

Since only the employees themselves can make this call, the company needs to implement simple assessment support and certain key performance indicators (KPI's) to help their employees measure work-related issues. These might be flanked with certain health and wellbeing offers such as subsidies for sports clubs or offers to join meditation and yoga classes, as well as healthy nutrition courses.

It all pays off eventually since health and wellness programs are proven money-savers. Research points to a drop in medical costs of more than three dollars for every dollar invested in wellness, and a drop in absenteeism costs of more than two dollars for every dollar spent.

The Wellness Council of America says that most workplace health promotion programs address the "Big Five." These are, back care and injury prevention, exercise, stress management, tobacco use, and substance abuse prevention. This last one being the most dangerous for the creative industry - promising an energy high, only to take one far down, sometimes for the remainder of life. This is an unacceptable price for a short-lived gain in career advancement.

It boils down to the competitive edge and companies that respect the triple-bottom-line and learn to develop the triple successes, set themselves apart from those concentrating on one line only: A company that gets the best employees, retain them the longest and receives the most from them freely, in a rewarding and fun way, is hence engaged at the maximum level.

Special thanks to Guido Prick for researching and co-writing this article.