The colossal shift to enforced remote working introduced 73% of Americans to an improved work-life balance — and many want to retain it.
Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker survey found that almost half of Americans are reconsidering the type of job they want in a post-pandemic world, with 38% of workers citing a better work-life balance as a critical factor in their employment.
But why is a good work-life balance so important for businesses and employees? And what can business leaders do to encourage it?
Let’s explore some of the top reasons why work-life balance matters.
Why It’s Important to Encourage Good Work-Life Balance
An excellent work-life balance prevents workers from missing out on other aspects of life beyond their job, neglecting family responsibilities, and pushing themselves to the point of burnout.
Many workers suffer these effects. A Grand Canyon University (GCU) survey found that a poor work-life balance harmed:
- Family relationships (for 48% of workers)
- Relationships with friends (for 47% of workers)
- Self-care habits (for 38% of workers)
- Mental and emotional health (for 37% of workers)
- Physical health (for 35% of workers)
And a report by The Corporate Executive Board revealed that employees with a better work-life balance work 21% harder and are 33% more likely to stay with their current employer.
So, business leaders who encourage a better work-life balance can boost employee productivity, give workers less reason to look for another job, and provide staff with the breathing room they need to maintain relationships and look after themselves.
How can you do that?
8 Ways to Help Employees Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance
Allow Workers to Take Regular Lunch Breaks
Lunch breaks are about more than just eating. They give you a chance to get away from your desk, chat with colleagues, take a walk around the block, and take your mind off work for an hour.
But many employees choose not to take a lunch break or feel reluctant to do so. A survey of North American workers found that:
- Almost 20% worry their boss will question their work ethic if they take regular lunch breaks.
- 38% don’t receive encouragement from taking a lunch break.
- 22% of bosses claim that employees who take regular lunch breaks are less hardworking.
The statistics suggest that many American employees push themselves too hard for fear of being viewed as a “slacker” and that a minority of bosses associate lunch breaks with poor work ethic.
But the survey also revealed that almost 90% of workers questioned felt refreshed and ready to resume their duties after a lunch break. Encourage team members to take a break and switch off for a while. That can be difficult when deadlines loom, but it could help staff rejuvenate themselves and come back more productive.
Provide More Flexible Work Options
Try to implement more flexible work options for team members to encourage better work-life balance.
A survey by Pew Research Center revealed that more than half of American employees want to keep working from home after the pandemic. And more than 80% of business leaders surveyed by Gartner plan to allow employees to work at least some of the time remotely in the future.
Flexibility to work remotely provides employees with a chance to:
- Spend more time with family.
- Reduce childcare costs.
- Cut down on travel or gas expenses.
FlexJobs research found that 27% of workers would be willing to take a 10 - 20% pay cut if they could work remotely, and 81% would be more loyal to employers. That shouldn’t encourage business leaders to give employees an ultimatum — it just demonstrates how important flexibility is to workers.
Create Clear Contact Boundaries With Clients, Managers, and Coworkers
Give employees permission to turn their notifications off and get their minds out of work mode when they finish for the day.
That means establishing clear contact rules with clients, managers, and coworkers. Employees should switch off after their shift ends and relax without being bombarded by requests for updates or to solve problems.
Creating such rules shows employees that you value personal time and may help to relieve stress.
Help Employees Bond to Create a More Supportive Team
Employees can help each other enjoy a better work-life balance when they have a close working relationship. They may be willing to:
- Share workloads and reduce the need for overtime.
- Help one another resolve stressful situations.
- Collaborate on challenging tasks.
- Provide support outside the office (e.g., with family issues).
The more connected employees feel, the more likely they are to support each other and make the work experience more pleasant.
One way to build a more connected team is to introduce a peer-recognition system, like the Cheers for Peers tool from TINYpulse. The use of recognition empowers workers with a simple method of recognizing colleagues’ achievements publicly, encourages them to keep working at their best, and helps them feel valued. Employees can add personality to Cheers with GIFs and cultural value tags.
Be a Positive Example
One of the simplest ways to encourage a better work-life balance is to look at your own. One report showed how some overworked business leaders are burning out at “record rates”:
- 60% feel “used up” at the end of a workday
- 44% of those who feel “used up” plan to find a new job to advance their career
Employees may feel they need to push themselves harder than usual to satisfy overworked managers. That could harm everyone’s work-life balance.
That’s why managers should lead by example and allow themselves to work sensible hours, take complete lunch breaks, and encourage teams to do the same.
Offer Working Parents Support
Provide working parents with the support they need to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
One option is to offer childcare vouchers to reduce financial strain and ensure they have time to dedicate to their job when working remotely. Also, providing equal benefits for maternity, paternity, or shared leave can help employees manage their time better.
Gather Employee Feedback to Identify Improvement Opportunities
Are you doing all you can to encourage a good work-life balance?
Has your management team missed opportunities to implement more flexible work options or offer fun team-building exercises in the office?
Do employees crave more freedom to work from home and set their schedules?
You won’t know any of this unless you ask, and this is why it’s critical to gather employee feedback.
A tool like TINYpulse Engage empowers managers to understand teams and make better decisions that benefit employees. You can gather real-time feedback with total anonymity — encourage workers to be as honest as they like for an invaluable insight.
TINYpulse Engage makes it easy to gather practical, actionable information with science-backed questions. Find out what employees think about their work and identify opportunities to improve their experience. You may find ways to improve their work-life balance and your own at the same time.
Providing feedback also helps employees feel valued, as they’ll get to voice their opinions. This loop of communication can increase engagement and loyalty.
Assess Workloads to Prevent Overload
The United States is recognized as the world’s most overworked country, with more than 85% of males and 66% of females working more than 40 hours per week. Long, challenging days can leave employees stressed, burned out, and without the time to dedicate to other areas of their life.
Managers should take the time to review workloads regularly and check in with staff to make sure they aren’t overwhelmed with tasks. This may be easier in a workplace with strong communication and solid employee-manager relationships.
Workers may be more willing to admit when they’re struggling to handle their workload without fear of being seen as incapable or incompetent when they trust their managers.
A performance management tool like TINYpulse Coach is ideal for helping employees manage tasks, overcome barriers to success, understand where they need to improve, and monitor their progress. Managers can use this to guide employees and identify when people may need extra support.
Encouraging a good work-life balance is a must to improve employee satisfaction, reduce the threat of burnout, provide more flexible work patterns to boost staff retention, and increase engagement.
Creating a balance will likely require some creative thinking and restructuring. But providing workers with a better work-life balance could help you build a happier, stronger, more productive team over time.
TINYpulse is an innovative toolset designed to help businesses build more connected teams. Managers can foster better relationships with employees and develop a deeper understanding of their motivations, goals, and frustrations. You can also empower employees with tools to provide feedback and recognize one another’s achievements to increase engagement.