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12 Work-Life Balance Tips

March 29, 2013
12 Work-Life Balance Tips

Many people feel overwhelming stress levels as they try to achieve a work-life balance. Empowering your employees with more quality time and a manageable to-do list helps everybody. The work-life balance tips in this article can help. It’s not uncommon to grapple with this question: Is there such a thing as the perfect work-life balance? And if so, how does one balance work with home life? One reason it’s so tricky to find a work and life balance is that your perception changes over time. Young, single employees fresh out of college often focus on advancing their career goals and can manage a busy schedule. They want to have a vibrant social life after work. Marriage and children change time management needs significantly. And that realization leads to more questions about work and personal goals. Women, in particular, find this healthy work-life balance challenging. They often take on the lion’s share of childcare responsibilities and housework. This can be true even if they share these tasks with a partner. So, how do employers help their employees maintain mental health and achieve work-life balance? Consider these 12 work-life balance tips to help your employees enhance their well-being and productivity.

1. Ask workers about their work-life balance needs

Start with a work-life balance survey to learn more about your employees' needs and well-being. You might have a general theory about a proper work-life balance. But you need to know how your employees are doing to achieve work-life balance. You can include things in the survey like work hours, the needs of working parents, and flexible scheduling. The answers can help define specific places where your company can improve.

2. Monitor employee stress levels and mental health

Burnout is real and it can damage both employee health and company productivity. If you are a business owner, you know this from personal experience. Skipping the lunch break, working excess hours, and spending free time on work take their toll with higher stress levels. Science backs this up. Excess stress leads to:

Longer hours don’t always lead to more productivity. When your employees are burned out and have stress-related health issues, it impacts your business. Productivity declines. Your employees may be more prone to accidents and injuries on the job. They take sick days because of health problems that might have passed by quickly had they been less stressed. In the long run, a company will see more productivity from employees who maintain reasonable work hours. They should also take scheduled vacation time to unwind and recharge. Studies show that when companies promote a good work-life balance, the whole organization enjoys the benefits. Employees who feel better are more productive. They feel invested in their work. Retention improves. Absenteeism goes down. Health costs drop, and on-the-job injuries and accidents become less common. In other words, a healthy work-life balance is a win-win for everyone.

3. Educate employees about work-life balance

Host a seminar with a work-life balance coach. This helps employees understand their needs, and it shows they are respected. Give them tools and permission to recognize potential burnout. Encourage remote workers to go home on time, take their lunch break, and set boundaries.

4. Embrace flextime for work-life balance goals

Flexible work programs are becoming the norm. They offer a way for employees to find a balance between personal life and professional life. They help them determine how they work most productively. There are many options for flextime schedules. For example, provide a per-week hour requirement, but enable employees to choose when those hours are used. An employee could work 10 hours on Monday, but 6 on Thursday, etc. Some companies base flextime on the amount of work accomplished rather than hours worked. This can be especially helpful for parents juggling family life with work. Flextime shows your employees that you value them as human beings, not just as workers.

5. Support telecommuting or remote employees

Studies reveal that telecommuters feel less stress and are more productive (by 47% on average) than office workers. Remote employees may work from home. Telecommuting employees go to the office for specific tasks. Otherwise, they work remotely. These options can decrease office overhead. They can also help working parents who need to take off to care for a sick child. Telecommuting allows them to stay home while still getting the necessary work done.

6. Work smarter, not harder

Efficiency is about getting more done in a shorter amount of time. In other words, working smarter, not harder. It's been reported that workers who work longer hours than others have lower productivity. Longer hours can lead to exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and irritability. Shorter, more productive hours spell improved employee mental health and a happier workforce.

7. Set the example of a healthy work-life balance

As a manager or business owner, set a reasonable schedule for yourself too. Show your employees by example that quality time at home matters. It can propel creativity and productivity forward.

8. Encourage short breaks, lunch, and vacation time

As part of the education process for employees, remind them to get up, stretch, and walk around outside. They should take a reasonable lunch break and not forget about their vacation time. Sitting at a desk for 8 hours without taking regular breaks is unhealthy. Also, consider having a flexible policy in place for employees to take time off for major life events without guilt.

9. Let employees bring the home to work

Have a day for employees to bring their kids, parents, nieces, and/or nephews (or a friend) to work. This could be a day of fun activities for all. Also, consider providing childcare onsite. This reduces commute time and stress for your employees and poor work-life balance. Showing that you appreciate your employees for who they are outside of work improves company culture.

10. Promote employee health initiatives

Consider sponsoring wellness programs and employee fitness activities (like office yoga or power walking at 3 p.m. on Wednesdays). Some companies have great success with sports teams that bring family, fun, and exercise together. You could also arrange for discount gym or fitness center memberships near the office. Try company health goals like taking so many steps each day. Of course, any group activity or challenge must be planned to be inclusive of all employees. This means offering options for all levels of ability.

11. Promote fun and creativity

Giving employees a chance to flex their creativity muscles is another way to boost their mental health. It’s also a great way to foster teamwork, better communication and solve real problems facing the company. Consider having regular teamwork activities that get your employees laughing, having fun, and thinking outside the box.

12. Foster healthy communication for good work-life balance

Work can be very demanding. Sometimes it can be tempting to take work home, which can put stress on partners and families. Encourage employees to be honest about whether they can take on another project. Make it clear it will not put their job or advancement opportunities at risk. Achieving work-life balance means separating professional and personal life. It requires employees to set boundaries and not take family members for granted. It requires them to take lunch breaks and not work long hours even if they have increased responsibilities. As an employer, it is your job to ensure that your employees have the tools necessary to achieve a good balance between work and home. That will increase productivity and lead to efficient and effective work ethics. They need to respect their personal time, and so do you. For more HR tips, tools, and business management resources, visit TriNet daily.

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