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18 Ways To Help Your Employees Maintain A Work Life Balance

Apr 30, 2021
18 Ways To Help Your Employees Maintain A Work Life Balance
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Work-life balance isn’t a new concept, but it’s been an ever-evolving conversation for companies from small startups to big organizations. For most people, work ends at 5 pm, but for others, it eats away at their evenings, nights, and even weekends. 

According to 2019 research from RescueTime, 26% of people took home to do at night or on weekends, and 40% of people were still online after 10 pm. But being on-call 24/7 can be mentally draining.

However, as companies recover from the pandemic and employees transition back to the office, organizations that encourage a healthy work-life balance have been touting it as a perk and using it to attract top-tier talent. And most of the time, it works!

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What Does Work-Life Balance Actually Mean?

Work-life balance is often misunderstood as needing to equally divide your day between professional and personal activities—a perfect 50-50 split. However, achieving such an exact balance daily is unrealistic and may not truly reflect the nature of modern work or personal lives. 

Instead, work-life balance should be viewed as achievable over time, where overall, there’s a satisfying proportion between work commitments and personal time. It's about flexibility and the ability to prioritize professional responsibilities and personal well-being in a way that suits the ebb and flow of individual circumstances and changing daily demands.

How to Support Employees’ Work-Life Balance

Here are some ways to help your employees become the best versions of themselves.

1. Have Flexible Hours

Employees who are stuck in cubicles no matter how efficiently they get their work done will eventually get fed up. However, there are many proven benefits of how allowing a flexible work-life balance can help.

Employers can offer a range of working patterns, such as flextime, where employees have the freedom to start and end their day within agreed limits, or compressed workweeks that allow employees to work longer hours on some days and shorter or no hours on others.

Additionally, you can let your employees work from different settings and communicate via email, project management software, text, and calls. This flexibility motivates employees, as it creates mutual trust between them and their managers.

2. Regularly Review Workloads

Reviewing workloads regularly helps managers know whether each team member has realistic goals and, if not, what obstacles could be removed from their ways to make it easier. This process should involve periodic discussions to collect employee feedback on their current responsibilities, deadlines, and any challenges they face. 

By conducting these reviews, employers can identify instances of both underload and overload, making adjustments as necessary to prevent employee burnout. Adjustments might include redistributing tasks among the team, prioritizing projects, or even hiring additional staff if consistent overloads are identified.

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3. Prioritize Productivity Over Hours Worked

Rather than focusing on the hours employees clock, managers should prioritize the tasks completed and the quality of those tasks. By setting clear, attainable goals and evaluating employees based on their results rather than the duration of their workday, managers encourage efficient work habits.

Adopting this strategy requires a trusting environment where employees are empowered with the autonomy to manage their tasks and time, which can lead to increased creativity, reduced burnout, and a more dynamic workplace.

4. Provide Family Support

Oftentimes, companies lose top talent—especially people caring for children or older parents—because they don't provide enough support. Providing paternity, maternity, or shared parental leave ensures the employees improve their work-life balance

Ongoing support can be offered in the form of on-site childcare or parent care support costs. Other ways include offering part-time or job-share roles. 

For instance, Deloitte has a workplace structure that enables employees to “dial up or down.” This might include working part-time or a schedule that provides more time at home or with other outside activities. This arrangement is regularly monitored to ensure that it’s successful for all parties.

Another great example of non-traditional flexibility is a schedule led by Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software: “We have a room in our office designed specifically for children to relax after school while their parents are still working. We do not have strict hours for the sake of having them. If someone needs to leave work early to take their child to the doctor or work from home, we’ll never single them out.”

Employees feel empowered in organizations where they know they can finish work early, go see their physician, get their air conditioning fixed, or go to their kid’s recitals.

5. Insist on Breaks and Time Off

Encouraging your staff to take their allotted breaks during the day helps prevent burnout and boosts overall productivity by allowing the mind to rest and recharge. Similarly, ensuring that employees use their vacation time is essential for enhancing long-term well-being and maintaining job satisfaction. 

Managers should also model this behavior by taking their own breaks and vacations, reinforcing the importance of rest within the company culture. By prioritizing time off, organizations can maintain a more energized and motivated workforce, ready to tackle challenges with renewed vigor and perspective. 

Fulfilling employees' requests for time off can make it difficult to keep track of who is out of the office. One solution would be to have a PTO Tracker to help visually note the absences of certain team members.

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6. Separate Work and Personal Devices

Encouraging employees to establish a clear boundary between their work and personal devices (phones, laptops, etc.) helps prevent work from spilling into personal time and ensures that employees can truly disconnect when they’re off the clock. 

If possible, provide them with the equipment to use distinct devices for work-related tasks and personal activities or at least encourage them to delete emails and work apps like Slack off their personal phones. This practice also helps maintain digital security and data privacy.

7. Respect Working Hours

By strictly adhering to set work hours and discouraging after-hours communication, managers can help ensure that employees aren’t expected to extend their workday, cutting into personal time.

Managers should lead by example, limiting the sending of emails or making calls outside of normal business hours, and should clearly communicate that employees are not expected to respond until their next working period.

8. Don’t Over-Schedule Meetings

Assess whether each meeting is necessary and if the desired outcomes could be achieved through other, less time-consuming means, such as emails or quick check-ins. 

For instance, instead of holding lengthy weekly status updates, consider shifting to bi-weekly or even monthly sessions, supplemented by succinct progress reports shared via email. 

When meetings are necessary, they should be kept as concise and focused as possible, with clear agendas distributed in advance and strict start and end times to respect participants’ time. This minimizes employees’ cognitive load and fatigue associated with back-to-back meetings.

9. Provide Time-Management Training

Offering workshops or online courses that teach time-management skills not only helps individuals perform their roles more effectively but also fosters a culture of productivity and self-management.

For example, a training session could cover techniques like the Eisenhower Box for prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance, or the Pomodoro Technique for managing work intervals and breaks.

10. Encourage Physical Activity

Employees perform better when they’re physically and mentally active. Companies can arrange monthly or weekly hiking trips or other outdoor activities to encourage physical activity and create a good relationship with the employees. 

Some companies also have gyms inside the office building so the employees can get some exercise during their lunch break or at the end of the day to blow off some steam and get feel-good endorphins going. 

This strategy can also work with clients. If you’re going for something outside the box, try a change of venue or a walking meeting. It cultivates the feeling of freedom when you are not trapped inside a box behind a desk.

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11. Foster Creativity

In addition to physical health, employees should be given time and encouragement to take on their creative projects. This kind of time and space manifests itself in the form of outside-the-box thinking and creative problem-solving that will benefit your business in the long run. 

Some companies offer a 20% program, which is to let their employees work 20% of their time in the office on creative side projects. And who knows? Their other skills might solve problems on the job, too.

Plus, as an employer, showing interest and encouraging a life and interests outside of work communicates that you value your employees as human beings as much as you care about their job performance. 

12. Provide Mental Health Services

By offering confidential counseling, stress management workshops, and access to mental health professionals, employers can help address the mental health challenges that may arise from work or personal issues. 

For instance, implementing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that includes sessions with therapists can be invaluable in helping employees manage stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.

13. Lose the Office (Somedays)

Allowing employees to work from home—either as a permanent or hybrid setup—is a good idea for companies that can manage it efficiently. Leadership at Exposure Ninja made work from home permanent, because they realized that it not only saves the company money but also increases employee productivity and well-being.

But you don’t necessarily have to shift your entire team to remote, as a lot of businesses don't have the ability to do so (ex. gaming studios and factory workers), but every once in a while, it’s nice to work in a different space.

Change things up by sending a couple of your employees to a co-working space every week or any other place they could get a fresh eye. This not only helps them network with people but can also help get their productivity back on track.

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14. Encourage Volunteering

Another way to form a good association between the time at work and outside the office is to offer paid volunteer time. For example, the company could consider offering 8 hours of paid volunteer work every year to its employees. These community service or volunteer opportunities give employees a sense of purpose and meaning.

15. Establish Learning Days

Learning platform Mindvalley regularly has what they call “Learning Fridays,” a day dedicated to learning about anything that will improve your career. Though it was originally planned as a day at home, leadership realized people generally have a lot to do at home, and thus, were easily overwhelmed by non-work to-dos.

So now on a Learning Friday, employees come to the office but not for work. This is to give them free time to learn and be up-to-date with their industry. The employee could read a book, listen to podcasts, work on their business ideas, or do anything else that enriches their professional life.

16. Create a “Quiet Space”

We all have our bad days once in a while. This is where a quiet space comes into play. It’s a designated spot at the office where employees can “switch off” and relax for a bit when they need a mental break.

This space should be peacefully uncluttered and free from company and other work materials. Comfortable seating, green plants, reading material, and soothing music can help make this place a true retreat. But make it clear that this place is not for employee venting, chatting, or laughter, rather, it’s a place to reflect in silence and respect each other’s solitude.

17. Set a Good Example

A manager who visibly prioritizes their personal time and openly discusses the importance of rest and recuperation sets a positive precedent for their team. This involves demonstrating healthy work-life balance practices, such as leaving on time, using their vacation days, and refraining from sending work-related messages outside of normal working hours.

18. Talk to Your Employees

Get regular feedback from your employees on what they need to feel productive and relaxed. If someone is struggling with work-life balance, ask them what changes might help them. Feedback is a gift to both the employer and the employee. 

However, feedback meetings can be tricky, as employees often fear getting fired for being honest. To get genuine feedback, cultivate a culture of transparent communication beforehand.

It all comes down to whether an organization is people-centric or not. Companies need to keep everything flexible with discipline to attract and retain top talent. Remember that every employee is different and might require a tailored experience.

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About Author: This article is written by a marketing team member at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of proven HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee communications & engagement, and rewards & recognition. Our user-friendly software increases employee productivity, delivers time and cost savings, and minimizes compliance risk.

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