Finding that balance between career and family has always been a challenge, and the majority of people are in search of ways to improve work-life balance.
With increased market competitions and thus busier schedules and greater workload, either individuals’ work or personal lives tend to suffer.
Work-life balance primarily involves the act of juggling workplace stresses along with the daily pressures of family, friends, and self. And therefore, it is imperative to improve work-life balance to manage it all.
Importance of work-life balance
Having a work-life balance is important to live a productive personal and professional life. Here are a few points you need to know about its importance:
- A greater feeling of control and ownership of one’s life leads employees to have a better relationship with management
- Employees with an improved work-life balance are more likely to feel motivated and less stressed out at work
- Employees with an improved work-life balance increase company productivity and reduce conflicts between coworkers and management, because of their increased motivation and reduced stress
- Companies that encourage a way to improve work-life balance are more attractive as potential employers
- Companies encouraging work-life balance often enjoy higher employee retention rates and lower absenteeism
How employers can encourage work-life balance?
If you are reading this as an employer, here are some changes to implement or offerings you can make to encourage a good work-life balance in your workforce.
1. Ways you can encourage work-life balance in the office
As an employer or a project manager, you have a role in helping organizations to work with their employees to accomplish the balance between work and personal lives.
To help allow you to start nurturing a culture of work-life balance in your workplace, here are ways you can encourage work-life balance in your employees.
2. Allow flexibility
Taking away the burden from employees of whether to choose their work or their families, is a sure-fire way of ensuring employees are happy and have a good work-life balance.
Giving your employees the flexibility of either working remotely or having flexible hours goes a long way in allowing employees to have a healthy work-life balance.
For example, in cases of working parents, it would be unfair to ask parents to come in on days when their child is sick. Forcing such an employee to come into work on such a day, decreases morale, and creates issues with management.
Moreover, such situations lead to an increase in absence rates. In fact, according to the CIPD report of 2020, 24% listed caring responsibilities for children as one of the top three reasons for their short-term absences.
A way you can avoid this and keep motivation high is to allow employees the flexibility to telecommute so that they do not need to choose their work life or their personal lives.
This flexibility allows your employee to not have to worry about missing work or having to take unpaid leave and your company’s deadlines and work also do not suffer.
Another flexibility you can offer your employees is their working hours. Offer your employees the chance to work core hours but then the flexibility and freedom to manage their workload.
This freedom again aids multiple situations which would otherwise force employees to have to choose between their work responsibilities and the responsibilities they have in their personal lives.
For example, the option to come in a little later so that a parent can drop off their child at school or can attend a doctor’s appointment will allow your company to avoid unnecessary absences.
Employees will feel that they can meet responsibilities they owe themselves and their family members while avoiding work pressures or the feeling that they are letting the company down.
This type of flexibility and the opportunity to improve work-life balance allows employees to have a better relationship with you as an employer, avoid taking unnecessary absences, and create loyalty towards your company.
3. Engage in team-building exercises
Team building exercises are a good way to increase a sense of teamwork around the office. This feeling of comradery and the feeling that employees have someone to depend on at work for support will help on days they need an extra bit of help.
Not only will this team building allow for a better work environment, but a friendly environment in the office will also allow for an employee’s work-life balance to not be such a strict divide as coming to work will not be a chore they have to get through.
Not only does this help in reducing stress and add to the well-being of your employees, but doing so also allows employees to work more productively and create a sense of loyalty towards the company.
4. Allow and encourage time off
The competitive nature of today’s market and industries often makes employees feel pressure to work every day without regard to personal time or self-rejuvenation.
Encouraging employees to take vacations encourages them to allow themselves down time and time to rejuvenate.
There is a standard two weeks of vacation time that many companies follow, however, studies have shown that in 365 days, two weeks is insufficient time to allow employees to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Ensure that your employees are encouraged to take their vacation days, and possibly amend your company’s vacation days to allow your employees to work towards the balance between work and personal life.
Other than vacations, flexibility for employees to attend live events is a major way you can encourage a healthy work-life balance.
Recognize that there are certain life events that as individuals we would like to attend and be a part of or need to be there for.
Of course, there are those events that permit paid time off but be considerate towards your employees’ other family needs that may require them to miss a day or two.
You could for example offer unpaid leave for employees that need time off to help care for a parent or other seriously ill family member. The CIPD report of 2020 found that many employees have to take time off to take care of old age parents or partners with special needs.
You may also want to consider allowing unpaid leave for valuable employees who wish to attend graduate school or such other events. This allows you to retain employees that are valuable to your institution while simultaneously showing the employee they are in a job that values them.
5. Encourage short breaks throughout the day
On a smaller scale, it is important to take a break throughout the day for a refresher and to stay both mentally and physically healthy.
Sitting still and staring at a screen for too many hours a day can have vastly negative effects on both the body and the mind and therefore you need to encourage employees to take that refresher that their body and mind both crave.
You can do this by creating a designated “quiet space”. A place for employees to get away from their work when they need time to unwind is great for employees to rejuvenate.
Ensure that the recreational space is away from company materials. Add plants and flowers, along with comfortable seating to make the most out of the space and give your employees the best experience.
Benefits to offer employees for good work-life balance
Here are some of the benefits you can offer your employees to help them achieve a good work-life balance.
1. Access to exercise
Experts say that at least 30 minutes of exercise per day is important for the physical and mental well-being of any able-bodied adult.
Having a healthy lifestyle, both by adding exercise to one’s routine as well as eating healthy, will allow your employees to be at a lesser risk of getting sick. This in turn will help your company avoid unnecessary absences.
Encourage your employees to adopt this healthy lifestyle, to help them improve their overall well-being and in turn be more able to have a healthier work-life balance.
As a company, you can encourage such a change in your employees by offering an on-site gym facility. If this is not possible, try and provide your employees with memberships, or even simply providing discounted memberships to local gyms can have this effect.
Moreover, encourage fitness by perhaps implementing a company fitness group, or ensuring that you motivate employees to take part in local charity races and such.
In regards to a healthy eating habit, make sure that your office is equipped with healthy options for employees to choose from rather than just the typical vending machines.
2. Childcare services
As a parent, as we mentioned, it is difficult to be able to find that work-life balance when you need to choose between your work responsibilities and those you owe to your child.
A family-friendly work environment has been shown to benefit both the company and its employees.
To avoid situations where parents need to choose between their child or their work, you can provide on-site childcare facilities. Or if this is not possible, you could provide a discount for trusted child care services, so that employees can work with peace of mind knowing their children are taken care of.
This will alleviate the stresses that working parents feel of caring for children during the workday and help avoid unnecessary absences.
Or, as we mentioned above, if these options are not possible try and implement flexibility, both in work timings or also by allowing employees to telecommute when they need to.
3. Provide good health coverage, with all employees in mind
Ensure that you ask your employees what they would want to improve in the plan that you offer. When you take your employees’ well-being seriously, they will show you loyalty and respect. And this will improve your overall work culture.
It is important that you also make sure that you cater to older employees in your workforce.
Happy hour and childcare will not cater to their needs, as they are more accustomed to traditional workplace culture.
Ensure that you avoid creating a disconnect that can aggravate the generation gap between your employees. This may lead to you pushing elder employees towards retirement that is unnecessary and losing valuable resources.
Therefore, ensure that your health coverage includes preventative benefits such as colonoscopies or prostate exams which cater to those above the age of 50.
Moreover, consider retaining employees as part-time or on a contractual basis which will allow you to hold on to valuable insight and skills that can help guide newcomers.
Reducing stress and thus increasing performance in your life in all aspects can be said to be the ultimate goal of work-life balance.
Therefore, ensure you adapt your benefits so that they adequately address the needs of your workforce. This will in turn reduce stress and enhance work-life balance.
How employees can focus on improving work-life balance?
Now that we have discussed how an employer can adapt work environments and cultures to help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance, it is important to see what you as an employee can do for the very same thing.
1. Forget the “perfect” work-life balance
It is easy to feel that having a healthy work-life balance means having an extremely productive day at work to then come home early and spend the rest of your time with friends and family.
This, however, is not the case. Strive for a realistic schedule rather than a perfect one. As perfect does not exist.
Learn to find the balance between when you will give your work extra time and when the family will have to come first. And don’t forget to factor in some time for yourself as well.
2. Your health should always come first
You need to always prioritize your health. Your physical, emotional, and mental health should always be your main concern.
If you are going through a taxing time mentally, seek help, go to therapy, and factor in these sessions into your schedule.
If you need are battling a physical illness, make sure that you take the time to heal and don’t be afraid to take days off when you need to.
Overworking yourself when you are either not mentally or physically in a position to do so will make you unable to be productive and there are chances you will be causing yourself more damage than good. You will also be unable to provide for your company and eventually will have to take more days off in the future.
3. Take a vacation
As we discussed, taking a vacation is imperative for rejuvenation. Whether that be a simple stay-cation or an extravagant trip abroad, you need to unplug and refresh.
According to a study conducted by the US Travel Association, 52% of employees have unused vacation days leftover at the end of the year.
You may be worried that the time off you take will disrupt your workflow and that you will return to a backlog of work, however, this should not stop you from taking a well-deserved break.
Taking time for yourself and your family and friends is important for a healthy work-life balance, and taking a vacation is a good way to achieve this.
4. Set work hours and personal boundaries
You need to ensure that you avoid burnout by ensuring that you set boundaries for yourself and not tire yourself out to the point you lose your productivity and motivation.
Whether you work from home and telecommute or go to an office, it is imperative that you keep your work and your personal life separate to be able to ensure you can have a healthy work-life balance.
A way to achieve this is by having set working hours. Make it a point to make sure that when these working hours are over or when you leave the office, you make sure to leave the work there too.
Perhaps try and have a separate computer or phone for work which you turn off when you are done with your working hours. If you work from home try and keep a separate space for your working hours so that you can keep your work detached from the rest of your day.
Guarantee that you also notify your team and colleagues about boundaries, and let them know times when they cannot reach you to allow you the opportunity to take your personal time and spend them on activities other than work or with your family or friends.
Give yourself the time to recover from work stress by unplugging whenever you can.
When you are either traveling or maybe waiting for an appointment, avoid going through work emails or other work-related activities.
Unplug to allow yourself the opportunity to rejuvenate and avoid the possibility of burnout. Taking the time for yourself and to unwind is critical. This time will help you overall feel more energized when you do have to work or when you are on the clock.
There you have it
So, there you go. Simple tricks you can implement either as an employee or an employer to encourage a healthy work-life balance.
It is important for sanities sake, that you create a balance between your work life and your personal life to be a happy and productive individual.
We hope these tips to improve work-life balance will help you to get there!