With the rise of an “always on” work culture, it's no wonder so many people struggle with work-life balance for employees. Work days stretch on for hours and even when we leave, our devices (and our work) follow us home. Our sleep suffers, relationships become strained and anxiety sets in. The resulting stress makes it difficult to fully engage, collaborate and get work done.
Everyone suffers the consequences of a poor work-life balance. The impacts on productivity are significant. As are the impacts on relationships inside and outside the work environment. Stress and depression are on the rise which results in missed work and expensive medical treatment.
Overview of Work-Life Balance
Cleverism refers to work-life balance as the proper prioritizing of an individual between his work or career and his personal life. For an individual to experience the richness of life, achievement and enjoyment are critical components. Finding fulfillment is achieving something you enjoy doing. When that happens in both work-life and personal life, then there is work-life balance.
Importance of Work-Life Balance for Employees
People who have learned to master work-life balance leave work issues at work and personal issues at home. Balanced employees are less stressed and more engaged. QUT ePrints studies have shown that employees with a positive work-life balance do a better job at work. The Happiness Index listed some reasons why it is important to employees:
- Fewer Health Problems. It's no secret that health suffers when one is stressed or overworked. A poor work-life balance affects our well-being. Moreover, people who work longer have a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems. By encouraging your people to find balance, you can limit health problems and unplanned absences.
- Less Burnout. Adverse working conditions may lead to job burnout. Employees who are burned out often display a negative attitude, lack of commitment, and dissatisfaction at work. It's important to encourage your team to take time off and “leave work at work.”
- More Mindfulness. Work-life balance improves the ability to concentrate on the task at hand. It promotes creativity and innovation. New ideas flow when employees are engaged, not distracted by issues outside the workplace.
Ways to Encourage Work-Life Balance in the Workplace
Now we know why it is important, let’s explore Pingboard's ways on how to encourage balance in the office:
- Maintain Structural Consistency. Employees generally feel less anxiety if they know what to expect day-to-day. A steady and reliable workplace can counteract stresses that employees feel at home. Fewer fire drills result in happier employees!
- Create a Designated “Quiet Space." Design a calming space in your office for silent reflection. The space should be uncluttered and free of all company materials. When employees need to step away for a moment, it's nice to have a space to go that doesn't feel so much like work.
- Allow Schedule Flexibility. We live in an age of connectivity which permits different types of flexibility in the workplace. Allow employees to work remotely certain days each week or in the case of an emergency like a sick child. Or let them work a flexible schedule that better meets their specific situation. While HR tends to be about rules and policies, this is about flexibility. Getting the best from your employees while at the same time, acknowledging them as individuals with unique needs and preferences.
- Implement Short Breaks Throughout the Day. It's essential for workers to take frequent breaks throughout the day. The human body was not designed to sit and stare at a computer screen for 8 hours. Taking breaks allows employees to step away, clear their heads and return refreshed. A break room is great but better yet to get outside and take a walk.
- Encourage Time Off. A break from work is an opportunity to recharge. This is essential for improving engagement and productivity. Be considerate about your employee’s needs. Allow unpaid time-off for situations that call for it. Implement a “use it or lose it” vacation policy. This will encourage employees to take a vacation. Most of all, be as generous as you can be with time off policies. Corporate America, in particular, is stingy with time off compared to other parts of the world. This is an unfortunate trend. While paid time off is an expense, businesses will reap the rewards of refreshed and engaged employees who are energized and eager to work.
- Engage in Team Building Exercises. Team-building exercises foster a sense of collaboration around the office. It helps members of different teams get to know each other. Building trust and comradery can reduce stress in the workplace. It also helps balance their social life.
- Offer Community Engagement Opportunities. Offer community engagement activities that support your company's mission and values. This is a great way to show support in your community and demonstrate your commitment to your values.
- Ask Employees for Guidance. Don't be afraid to ask your employees about their feelings regarding work-life balance. Sure, they may want more than you can afford to offer but they will appreciate you asked. It shows them the company cares and wants to create a positive organizational culture.
- Be a Good Model for Balance. Respect the balance and privacy of your employees. Avoid contacting them after normal work hours unless it's an absolute emergency. Don't schedule calls and meetings at 5:00 pm or ask people to come in on Saturdays. When employees go home, that's their time and it should be respected.
Work-life balance is achieving fulfillment in your work and personal lives. It's essential for good health and positive relationships. It can improve your employee’s productivity, and ultimately their performance. Now, more than ever, it is vital to foster a positive work-life balance in your organizational culture.