Due to an increase in remote work and the development of communication technologies we are finding it harder than ever to leave work at the office. A recent study discovered that 40 percent of employees use their personal devices for work purposes after business hours. Establishing a healthy work-life balance in this climate has become significantly more complicated. As a business leader it is crucial to keep your employees from burning out, but how can you encourage them to manage their work-life boundaries?
What is a healthy work-life balance?
A healthy work-life balance means a person is equally fulfilled by their personal life and their professional life. There is no simple formula for managing work-life balance, it’s not a matter of splitting time 50/50 between work and leisure. But, it is about making sure employees are satisfied and comfortable in both areas of their life, that they are not stressed or at risk of burning out.
Why it’s important to encourage good work-life balance
If an employee is unable to retain a healthy work-life balance it can have a negative effect on both their personal and professional lives. An over-worked staff member who is checking their emails 24/7 will start to neglect other aspects of their home life, be those family responsibilities or relationships with their friends. If that employee starts to push themselves to the point of burnout this can have significant detrimental consequences, affecting their mental, emotional, and physical health. Stress impinges on job performance, lowers engagement, and can cause tense communication between co-workers.
Recent statistics show that 21 percent of workers with a good work-life balance are more productive and 33 percent say they plan to stay in their current jobs. Organizations that offer a good work-life balance have 25 percent less employee turnover and 50 percent fewer healthcare costs.
As a business leader, encouraging a great work-life balance can boost productivity, improve retention rates, and build a healthy work culture where employees have the time and energy they need to produce quality work while maintaining personal relationships and managing their mental and physical health.
6 Ways to support a better work-life balance for your employees
A good work-life balance creates healthier, happier employees and encourages them to stay motivated and productive. Here are some ways to support employees to help them get the balance right:
1. Provide flexible work options
Flexibility in the workplace – which could include providing remote working options or modified schedules – has been an upward trend in recent years. This has been aided by new technologies and a growing awareness of the benefits of a flexible workday, which allows employees to spend more time with their family, reduce childcare costs, and cut down on travel expenses and lengthy commutes.
Employees want to be trusted to manage when, where, and how they work and they value employers who empower and trust them to monitor their own time. Some people work well in the morning, others may prefer to sleep later and work later. Offering flexibility to employees who want to start and stop working at different times means increased productivity and a higher quality of work.
Of course, it's not always possible to offer flexibility in the workplace, but try to implement more flexible work options for employees to encourage better work-life balance.
2. Focus on productivity rather than hours
Moving towards a more flexible working culture, especially with remote team members, means relying on your employees to perform on their terms. Rather than counting the hours employees work, monitoring each minute they spend on Slack, encourage your team leaders to focus on productivity and the completion of specific tasks.
Some days employees may need to put in long hours to complete a time-dependent project, but this can be offset on the days when they don’t need to do a full day.
3. Promote Boundaries
Employees should feel able to switch off when their working day ends and relax without worrying about checking emails or online notifications. That means implementing clearly defined contact rules with clients, managers, and co-workers. Establishing these rules shows your employees that you value personal time and a healthy work-life balance.
Certain projects or unforeseen problems might require urgent action, but for the most part, you should make sure that your employees maintain boundaries. If they don’t, and they work nonstop believing it will ensure job security, this can cause burnout and lower work production.
Give employees permission to turn their emails and notifications off and get out of work mode when they finish for the day.
4. Lead by positive example
One of the simplest ways to encourage a better work-life balance is to look at your own. Being a business owner, especially in the current climate, can be extremely stressful and the risk of burnout is high.
If you are working all hours of the day and sending emails to your employees at 3 am they will feel the need to push themselves to keep up. This can be harmful to everyone’s work-life balance. Lead by example and work sensible hours, take complete lunch breaks, and encourage all your employees to do the same.
Ensure that managers and senior leadership teams enjoy a healthy work-life balance too. They should leave the office on time or sign off if they are working from home, take breaks, and not email employees out of hours or expect them to deliver work to an unreasonable time scale when it isn’t critical.
5. Check on employee health and well-being
Supporting employee health and well-being should be central to the way your organization operates. It is essential to check in on your employees. Hold meetings on a one-to-one basis to speak with individual team members and find out how they're doing.
You, and your management team, may need training on how to identify employee burnout as it is crucial to catch it and take appropriate action. You can also offer your employees mindfulness training and mental health resources to educate them on the ways they can maintain a healthy work-life balance.
6. Offer perks that alleviate stress
There are a number of services that can save employees time and money and alleviate stress. Consider providing your employees with perks such as:
- Subsidized gym memberships or free fitness classes
- Discounts at laundry facilities
- Professional massages at the office
- Company cars or gas allowances
- Ergonomic office equipment
- Help with financial information such as tax support
Think about what’s right for your people and your organization, and design experiences personalized to your workplace.
Encouraging a good work-life balance for employees – a conclusion
As an employer it is important to understand that you can’t control your employees’ work-life balance, they have to take some responsibility for how they manage their time and their attitude to harmonize their work and personal lives. However, there are several things you can do to support and educate your employees to make positive changes to develop a work-life balance that suits them. This will be beneficial to your employees as individuals and your organization as a whole.