In this competitive job market, workers are resigning at record numbers. One of the key drivers for this current trend of rapid resignation is poor work conditions. Workers aren’t hanging on simply because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
To today’s worker, job loyalty is not as important as peace of mind. Even if they’re satisfied with the pay, workers will jump ship if they feel overworked and stressed out. And because there are so many opportunities for employment right now, the jump isn’t that uncertain. They’ll simply move on to a different company that prioritizes work-life balance.
If you want to keep your talent from leaving your organization, and if you’d like to attract employees who will stick around for a while, you must focus on work-life balance. This is one of the top benefits you can offer to your employees. But it can’t just be an empty promise. You must make good on it. Otherwise, they will seek a better work-life balance elsewhere.
In this post, we’ll share simple ways to improve your organization’s work-life balance so that you can reduce burnout, improve employee morale, and increase overall job performance and productivity.
What is Work-Life Balance?
We’ve heard the term “work-life balance” so often that it’s almost become a buzzword. What exactly does work-life balance mean?
Work-life balance is how a person integrates work into their life. It’s not as simple as leaving the job at 5 pm on the dot every day. That alone won’t create balance. Even if the worker is only on the clock for eight hours out of the day, they still may suffer from unbalanced work life. Those eight hours of work may be so stressful and demanding and packed with unrealistic deadlines and heavy workloads. And even when the worker clocks out, they can still feel a lingering sense of dread associated with their job that sours the rest of their day.
This can lead to a general feeling of discontent with their lives but especially with their careers. And it’s a sure sign that they have not achieved proper work-life balance.
So, work-life balance is not actually about compartmentalizing your day into equal eight-hour sections (i.e. work eight hours, sleep eight hours, do the rest in the remaining eight hours). Instead, work-life balance addresses how the worker feels about the work they do, and how their job affects the rest of their life.Work life balance is not actually about compartmentalizing your day into equal eight hour sections. Instead, work life balance addresses how the worker feels about the work they do, and how their job affects the rest of their life. Click To Tweet
Beyond finances, work impacts multiple areas of one’s life, including health and relationships. For this reason, employees seek out organizations that treat their employees like humans and not worker bees. And if that employer has made empty promises that they won’t fulfill, the employee will leave for another job. This is because today’s worker prioritizes mental wellbeing, which includes working at a job that respects and appreciates them.
So, what can your organization do to promote and improve your employees’ work-life balance? Let’s discuss that next.
Survey Your Employees
The first step to improving your work-life balance is to understand how your employees actually view your organization and their roles. It’s always a good idea to regularly ask for feedback from your employees but, to gather information about work-life balance specifically, ask the following questions:
- On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most burdensome), how would you rate your workload?
- What resources do you need to do your job that you don’t have currently?
- What are some ways that management can help you?
- What stresses you out the most at work?
- What are your ideas on how to improve your work processes/ work day?
These are just some of the questions you can ask your employees regularly to find out what your team may be struggling with and to identify areas of opportunity for increased management support. To get honest answers, be sure to make these surveys anonymous.
Survey Your Organization
Your employees shouldn’t be the only ones you survey. You can also ask the same questions yourself. And you can expand these questions to focus on things you can do to improve your organization.
For example, ask yourself the following:
- Do my employees seem as engaged as they used to be when they were first hired (or for as long as you’ve managed them)?
- If I were in their position, how would I like my manager to support me?
- Have you provided enough tools and resources for your employees to do their jobs?
- Are you checking in on your employees regularly?
- Do you have a recognition program in place to show you value your employees?
These questions can indicate the status of your work conditions, and whether or not you’ve cultivated an environment for your employees to thrive. Be honest with your answers so that you can take the necessary steps to improve work conditions for your team, and boost employee morale.
Look for Signs of Burnout
It’s important to be aware of how your employees show up to work on a daily basis. Do they seem happy to be there? Or do they look unhappy, stressed out, or distracted? Have you noticed an uptick in employee absences? Is your once-stellar employee now performing poorly on tasks or missing deadlines?
These are all signs that indicate employee burnout. Job-related burnout comes from being overworked. And burnout will either end in the employee leaving for another job or the employee staying on the job but under-performing. Neither option is good.
Check out our tips on how to avoid employee burnout here. By promoting work-life balance, you will guard against employee burnout.
You shouldn’t be the only one looking for signs of burnout. Teach your employees to spot the signs of burnout within themselves. This way, they can recognize when they’re starting to feel stressed or mentally exhausted and make necessary changes before it becomes chronic. Changes may include saying “no” to a new project, temporarily reducing their workload, or taking time off to prioritize their mental health.
Don’t Treat All of Your Employees The Same
Everyone on your team is different and has a different approach to life. So, you should treat them accordingly when it comes to promoting work-life balance.
When meeting with your employees, discover what work-life balance means to them. For some people, work-life means cutting down work hours so that they have more time to spend with loved ones. This is especially important for parents but can apply to anyone who invests a lot of energy into personal relationships.
However, for some employees, more time off may not be the solution to work-life balance. They may prefer recognition for their role in a successful project. To reward these employees, you can create a formal employee recognition program. This way, their hard work is met with acknowledgment and appreciation.
Give Employees a Break
While not all employees will need a lot of time off, break time is still important. Encourage your employees to take breaks during their workday. And don’t praise employees for not taking breaks or working through lunch. While working without breaking may be necessary on occasion, it’s not good for your employee’s mental health in the long term. This leads to a toxic work culture.
By taking a break, your employee can hit the reset button and come back to their work with a fresh set of eyes.
Give Them Time to Pursue Passion Projects
Instead of just giving your employees time off, give them time off with a purpose. Some organizations allot as much as 20% of the workweek to passion projects. This is a major move to prevent burnout and promote work-life balance. Even if your employees aren’t working a full 40 hours a week, the hours that they do work will be more focused and productive.
Offer Flexible Work Hours
Instead of enforcing a standard eight-hour workday, give your employees the option to create a work schedule that integrates seamlessly with the rest of their life. Focus on productivity, not hours logged.
Additionally, you can consider switching your office to a hybrid arrangement so that employees have the option to telecommunicate.
Hang Out Virtually
A lot of organizations are switching to remote or hybrid work arrangements. While there are many benefits to working remotely, one major drawback is the lack of human connection. However, there are workarounds. You can meet your team virtually through video chat, and host team-building activities regularly. These virtual sessions include daily 10-minute water cooler chats, eat togethers, and happy hours.
Click here for a list of virtual team building activities you can implement with your remote team.
Work-life balance isn’t just a buzzword. It’s one of the most important benefits you can offer your employees. By promoting work-life balance in your organization, you invest in the mental well-being of your employees. And that investment will provide a return of positive employee sentiment, decreased employee churn, and greater productivity.
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