Work-life balance is crucial. With long work days becoming the norm, employees are struggling to accomplish work-life balance and this is detrimental to not only the employee’s health, but also to the well-being of the business.
Work-life balance is about flexibility and control over their schedule. Often times, employers see work-life balance as a way for employees to cheat the company of valuable work time, but this is far from the truth.
Benefits of Employee Work-Life Balance
The reason more and more employees demand greater control over their schedules is because it allows them to feel a better sense of ownership over their lives. This allows them to feel much more satisfied and have better relationships with their superiors. With work-life balance, employees can work out their personal issues at home and leave their work stress at work, thus it reduces overall stress and conflict.
Balanced employees are also more motivated and do a better job than over-worked staff. Encouraging work-life balance will increase your business’s productivity significantly. It will also increase your employee retention rate, which means less time and money spent recruiting, hiring and training new employees.
Ways to Promote Appropriate Work-Life Balance
At the end of the day, it’s not up to the employer to implement work-life balance within the lives of their employees. It’s solely up to the employee. However, there are many ways to promote practicing work-life balance.
Encourage “Effective” Not “More”
Working longer hours and being productive is not the same thing. When an employee works longer hours, it damages their morale and slowly deteriorates their motivation. Longer hours also encourage unhealthy habits of a workaholic and can lead to a high turnover. It’s better to solicit quality work hours over quantity.
Offer Flexible Work Schedules
The typical 8 to 5 is a thing of the past. There are several ways that you can offer flexible scheduling. You can give them a set number of hours that they need to meet each week and allow them the opportunity to set their own schedule (i.e. 6 hours one day, 10 hours the next). If you don’t have set business hours, you can also allow employees to start their day either a little earlier or later depending on when their peak productivity.
Support a “Work from Home” Option
We’re all human and sometimes life happens. If an employee’s child is sick, does your company give the option for them to work from home to avoid losing valuable worktime and a paycheck? Or are they forced to take a vacation day or even an unpaid day off? The way you address these little life events shows that you are a compassionate employer and adds positivity to your reputation as an employer. A common misconception of telecommuting or working from home is that employees are less productive while at home. According to several studies in recent years, this actually is quite the opposite as employees are up to 13% more productive when they work from home. When employees can work their personal life out, they actually can get more work done and are happier with their job.
Offer Unpaid Time-off for Life Needs
Some life events may qualify for paid time off, but others can be a little more complicated, such as a death in their family or longer maternity/paternity leave for the birth of their child. When these happen, it’s important for you as an employer to be considerate of the employee’s needs. Offer unpaid time off to your employees with those special life events. Considering if you don’t offer at least this option, those employees may leave your company or will become resentful to your leadership. Offering this option is a win-win scenario.
Encourage Vacation Time
Most employees feel pressure to work every day and consider it unprofessional to take vacation days when they need that time away from the office. Emphasize with your employees that time away from the office is crucial and that the allotted vacation days are for them to use as they wish. A good way to also encourage this is by implementing a “use it or lose it” policy. Employees must use their allotted vacation days by the end of the year or they lose it.
In some industries, employees are encouraged to check email and do basic work during their personal time outside of work. In the cases when personal life crosses over into work life, it’s important that you respect these occurrences, such as personal phone calls or quick errands during the day. The balance has to come both ways. You should respect it or you can encourage disconnecting from work during their personal time, so they come into work replenished rather than burnt-out.
Ask Employees for Guidance
You are the moderator for the policies you implement. However, at the end of the day, you are working to better the work environment for your employees, so they can benefit your business. Who better to consult about appropriate measures for work-life balance than your employees? Facilitate discussions to better your current policies on a yearly basis, so you can continue to better the function of your business.
Be a Model of Work-Life Balance
No one will accept your guidance for work-life balance if you don’t take your own advice. Make sure your practice what you preach. For instance, if you as the employer are answering emails while on vacation, it sends the message that your employees are expected to do the same.