The concept of a better work life balance has the business world buzzing for several years now and while many companies are jumping on the bandwagon to pursue happier, more rounded employees, achieving that crucial balance between work and personal life isn’t necessarily the reality for many professionals. Executives and managers may be talking about implementing new and innovative organisational policies to help employees juggle priorities, but often times the proponents of work life balance may unwittingly be the same ones creating the obstacles for their employees to realise it. Here are some ideas to help managers ensure that their employees are achieving a better work life balance.
Be the example. Don’t send your employees mixed messages about work life balance. It will be extremely difficult for your team to feel comfortable leaving early to attend their child’s ballet recital or go on a much-needed (and well-earned) extended holiday if you, their manager, continues to burn the midnight oil and go months, even years, without any time off. Encourage behaviour that’s going to promote a better work life balance by living and advocating it. Invite team members for an occasional coffee break and don’t let the conversation center around work-related topics. Be vocal about upcoming plans to work from home and share your excitement to begin planning your next holiday. Reinforce the idea of taking personal time when needed as often as possible so that your team understands that it is acceptable and expected for them to lead fulfilling lives outside of the office.
Offer resources. If you’re in a position to implement company-wide initiatives to help your employees achieve greater work life balance, do so. The key is to arm your employees with all the resources available to help them reach their goals. Partner with wellness brands and groups to offer discounts on products or classes that promote overall health, sign up for concierge services to make errands like dry-cleaning and schedule home cleanings more accessible and efficient, and negotiate corporate discounts or loyalty rewards with local gyms and other neighbouring proprietors.
Hold check-ins. Although you may not necessarily need to schedule official check-ins, be sure that you are monitoring and looking after your team members, especially when you know major life events are taking place, such as a birth of a child or a death in the family. If you notice that someone hasn’t taken a holiday from work in some time or appear more tense than normal, encourage them to take some days off. If your most dedicated workers need more coaxing, help them devise a timeframe for when it may be best to be away from the office, such as during obvious periods of down time.
Respect their personal time. Unless there is a true time-sensitive emergency, do not email or call your team members during out of office hours. In order for your team to reap the benefits of a well-balanced life, they must be able to disengage completely from work outside of normal business hours. Asking work related questions after hours or while they are on holiday, whether by email, text, or phone call, does not allow them the opportunity to truly unplug from work. If you fear not remembering to ask a question because you waited, save your email or text message as a draft and hit the send button at a better time.
Be flexible. Work is moving increasingly towards digital and there is now more possibilities for telecommuting. Although the physical presence in an office has its advantages and not every professional function is conducive to working remotely, there still can be some instances where being in the office isn’t always a requirement to get work done. Be amenable and open-minded when it comes to allowing your team to occasionally work from home or from some other remote location when the circumstances allow it.
More and more executives and managers may be talking about work life balance these days, but it’s far from being the norm in everyday business. If you’re in a position to advocate it for the benefit of your team members, be sure that you’re backing up your words with actions.