Though new technologies have emerged that ostensibly make it easier to do our jobs, a majority of American workers feel as though they’re overworked. Our research found that nearly 70% of workers feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the week to do their jobs. This is a problem. When workers are overwhelmed, they’re unable to produce at their highest levels — it’s as simple as that.
Understanding the importance of a well-rested staff, many companies have embraced the concept of achieving work-life balance for their employees. Quite simply, work-life balance is the notion that while employees should definitely do their jobs and do them well, they should also have more than enough time to pursue leisure activities.
While it might be tricky to give all of your employees a healthy work-life balance all of the time — some times of the year are busier than others — you can definitely create an organizational culture where maintaining this balance is a top priority.
1. Let employees make flexible schedules
Even younger employees who live by themselves have jam-packed schedules. Throw kids into the mix and forget it — life is crazy. Instead of making your employees work during specific time periods, let them set their own schedules. This way, they’ll be able to work at times that are most convenient to their nonwork responsibilities — parents will actually be able to go to their kids’ soccer games.
In addition to improving work-life balance, companies benefit from increased productivity and decreased absenteeism when they allow flexible schedules.
2. Embrace remote work
According to a recent CNN report, the average American worker spends 200 hours — and $2,600 — commuting to and from work each year. People obviously aren’t thrilled to spend more than eight entire days every year simply going to the office and heading home at the end of the day — especially when it eats into their wallet that much.
Luckily, technology has evolved to the point where employees can be productive from anywhere they happen to be, so long as they have an Internet connection. To that end, nearly 25% of U.S. workers get their jobs done from home — at least some of the time — as reported by Entrepreneur.
To improve work-life balance, you can implement a remote work policy. Whether you let your employees work from home a couple times a week or a couple times a month, you’re shaving time off their aggregate commutes.
Added bonus: studies show that remote workers are more productive.
3. Stop sending emails after hours
Next time you come up with a game-changing idea after hours, wait until the next morning to send that awesome email to your employees — for many reasons:
- It’s unfair to expect your employees to be on call 24/7.
- Sending your employees a late-night email means you want them to read it. If you want your employees to be productive tomorrow, let them get a good night’s sleep tonight.
- Sleep on it. You might dream about ways to take your idea to the next level.
Need more convincing? The Harvard Business Review agrees: ceasing to send emails after hours will improve your employees' work-life balance.
4. Let the weekend be the weekend
From time to time, there will be perfectly fine reasons to request your employees’ presence on the weekend: holiday parties, community service days, corporate events, what have you. But by all means don’t expect your employees to be glued to their computers on Saturdays and Sundays.
Unless an emergency arises, make it a top priority to let your team enjoy their weekends.
5. Regularly solicit feedback from your employees
The best way to figure out whether your employees feel as though they have enough time to enjoy life outside the office is to ask them directly. Instead of waiting until the end of the year to assess the state of the staff, you should ask them how they’re doing — even on a weekly basis.
There’s no sense in allowing any potential work-life problems to fester. Regularly ask your team what they think about their workload. If everyone says they’re stressed out, it’s time to reassess the situation.
6. Encourage people to leave the office on time
A team that’s willing to work long into the night is more desirable than one where each member is trying to be the first to call it a day. That said, if you routinely see a host of employees burning the midnight oil when you leave the office, your business probably has a work-life balance problem.
How do you fix it? Be annoying if you have to. Walk around the office once it’s quitting time and tell people to go home.
7. Distribute work evenly
Do you know whether workloads are distributed evenly amongst your staff? (Psst — if you don’t, anonymous weekly surveys can help you answer the question.)
You need to treat your entire team fairly, giving each employee comparable workloads. An organization’s collective work-life balance can’t be achieved if any department is consistently working overtime.
8. Celebrate employee anniversaries
Your employees certainly won’t mind eating cake on their work anniversaries. But if you really want to celebrate their achievements, make it a special day by taking them out to lunch or letting them work from home.
In addition to helping your employees actually enjoy their work anniversaries, you’re also helping improve work-life balance — one day at a time.
9. Let your employees be healthy
After a stressful morning, who wouldn’t kill for an afternoon nap? To improve your team’s work-life balance, let them rest when they’re tired (hello, nap pods). Let them meditate too. While you’re at it, encourage your employees to exercise during the day. Your employees will be healthier — and your organization will be, too.
Companies that concentrate on achieving respectable work-life balances for their employees benefit from increased engagement, motivation, and job satisfaction, according to the American Psychological Association.
Top talent looks for opportunities at companies that care about work-life balance. Who wouldn’t? If you haven’t thought about your employees' work-life balance in a while, there’s no better time than the present. That is, if employee retention is on your mind.
- Technology Killed Work-Life Balance — Here's How to Fix It
- 3 Proven Ways to Prevent Employee Burnout