HOW TO PROMOTE WORK-LIFE BALANCE TO YOUR EMPLOYEES
Most good managers know how to spot red flags when it comes to their workforce. Employees who routinely stay late to finish their work, or are seen taking stacks of work home with them can be a concern. So are employees who straggle into work on Mondays, talking in irritated tones about how they spent part of their weekend catching up on unfinished work. Sometimes employee inefficiency can be to blame, but more than likely, there’s a problem with how the employee is balancing their work and their personal life. That’s a situation managers can help them solve.
Promoting a healthy work-life balance is essential. It helps your employees stay productive, healthy and avoid burnout. Ultimately, a good work-life integration will keep people happier and working for your company long-term. But balancing work and a personal life can be tough for some people to grasp.
Here are some easy ways to help your employees achieve that important balance.
Don’t Contact Employees Outside of Work Hours
A particularly annoying trait of poor managers is the “do what I say, not what I do” pattern of behavior. For example, you may hear managers tell their employees on Friday to enjoy their weekend, but then proceed to send them emails or call them with questions about work projects during these off-hours or even during their vacations. This makes employees feel like they should be working or on call during their personal time. Make sure you are not putting your employees in this position. It’s taking advantage of them, and unnecessarily intruding into their personal time.
As a manager, it’s vital that employees be allowed to enjoy their time away from work and their vacation time unbothered by work emails and questions. To promote this work-life balance, start by encouraging your employees not to work through their lunch hours. When they take time off or leave for the day, they should let others know they will have limited access to email, text and phones during these off-hours. This can even be spelled out on any outgoing email alerts the employee sets before leaving work. To show you encourage and respect this line, do not contact the employee during their time off unless it is an absolute emergency.
Lead By Example
Leadership starts at the top, and with an important message like work-life balance, it is up to managers to show their employees what that really looks like. The most important piece to start with is setting expectations. Don’t encourage them to take work home with them if you don’t expect them to work in their off-hours or on the weekends. And do not respond to emails or messages yourself once you are off work. This can be a tough lesson to reinforce. If an employee sends you a question via email or text, your natural response is to help them out by answering it. But unless it’s an emergency, do not answer it after-hours. Wait until the start of the next work day to send the response. This drives home the message that you not only value your own personal time, you value theirs.
Offer Post-Work Activities
Setting up events for a little after-hours employee fun is a great morale-booster. It also draws a clear line between work and relaxation. Treat your employees to an occasional outing. It could be a baseball game, an outdoor concert at a local park, or even a happy-hour trip to a spot near the office.
Offer Healthy Options
Employees who achieve a good work-life balance are not only less stressed, they are healthier. Managers can encourage this healthy lifestyle component in several ways. The easiest is by making sure your company provides a workout perk, like free or reduced-price memberships to a local gym or fitness classes. Or if enough employees are interested, you could offer to bring a yoga, Tai Chi or pilates instructor into work once a week for anyone who wants to participate in a group class. You can also offer to sign up employees for your local recreation department’s sports teams.
Offer Flexible Work Options
Of all the personal/professional balance options out there, managers who allow a variety of flexible working arrangements are giving their employees the best opportunities to create the career they want, employee surveys have shown. While this does not work in all industries, more companies have been moving toward these flex work options in recent years. Advances in technology have propelled this, especially in places where an employee can do the bulk of their work online.
If you can, give employees the flexibility to work from home when they need to. They may have a cold, have a child who is ill, or perhaps it’s just more efficient to have them work from home that day instead of spending their commute time on the road. For many employees, working from home and joining meetings online or via a conference call leads to a more productive day. Some companies have been providing telecommuting options for years, with great results. Giving workers the freedom to do this allows them to shut off their computer at the end of the work day and shift right into their off-hours activities.
Other options include allowing employees to set their own schedules. If they have a 40-hour week, some might prefer to work four 10-hour days versus a traditional five-day work week. Others may feel they are more productive if they shift their daily work hours earlier or later. For example, an employee may want to hop online and start working at 6 a.m. if it means they are finished by 2 p.m. each day. Others may ask for a later start time. If your workplace can accommodate this, it might help your employees achieve better productivity and a more defined work and personal divide.
Promoting a culture of work-life balance to your employees starts with you making it a priority for yourself, then leading by example. Adding perks into their work life and accommodating flexible schedules will go a long way toward creating happier employees who are ready to bring their best to work each day.
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