Given the diversity of demands in the modern workplace, helping employees find their perfect work-life balance is a significant challenge for employers. Getting to know each team member’s desires and working together to support their goals takes time but is well worth it for both your company and your employees.
People who have poor work-life balance have a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, anxiety, and depression — not to mention higher turnover rates, lower productivity, fatigue, and low morale.
To help keep your staff happy and healthy, we have a few tips for helping employees achieve their ideal work-life balance and practice self-care.
Get Creative When It Comes to Using Company Resources
Think about which factors act as barriers, challenges, or stressors for employees — such as chronic health issues, transportation, and childcare. Then, consider if certain resources could help them create balance in their lives. Explore your ability to provide tools like habit-tracker planners or calendars for staff who want to add some structure and balance to their lives and create some accountability. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box around telecommuting, flexible work time, and working remotely.
Focus on employee performance rather than making sure they’ve simply logged a certain number of hours at their desk. Are they producing high-quality work on time and within budget? Not only will this encourage a healthy culture and happy employees; it also instills value and trust in workers that makes it easier for them to step away or unplug when they need to.
Don’t Fall Prey to the Status Quo
Even a healthy office culture is worth re-examining. Small but meaningful changes can make a big difference. For example, making coffee and tea available can showcase your company’s generosity and remove out-of-work errands and decisions from your employees’ radar. Carving out time for a work-free lunch break with some of your team members can help hit the reset button before the afternoon slump.
It’s easy to keep doing something just because it’s the way you’ve been doing it or the way everyone else does it. Instead, find a simple way to ask your employees for feedback about what would help them most and then develop a plan to implement those positive changes.
Go Above and Beyond to Support Work-Life Balance and Self-Care
Supporting healthy work-life balance often means rethinking traditional HR solutions. For example, offering a robust maternity and paternity leave not only makes employees feel cared for but gives them the space they need to find balance during a crucial transition in their lives. Similarly, make sure your company health plan includes mental health resources and encourage employees to take advantage of them.
You could also consider providing additional stipends for childcare, gym memberships, or public transportation. These benefits can make balancing work and home life easier and give your employees space to practice self-care. When your employees can be their best selves outside of work, they’ll be much more likely to bring their best selves to the work.
Help Employees Stay Accountable for Their Work-Life Balance Goals
Studies show only half of American workers use all their paid vacation days, if they use them at all. But employees who use their vacation days are happier, more productive, and more likely to get promoted. Taking time off is good not just for employee morale, but for the bottom line as well.
Encourage Employees to Get Support at Home
An HR professional or small business owner simply doesn’t have the resources to support every aspect of their employees’ lives. No person does! Assessing their needs, identifying meaningful support, and promoting ways to practice self-care can be done at work, but you should also encourage employees to seek help at home. Chore charts, shared calendars, and many other tools can be used at home to make sure workers are able to excel at work.
Practice What You Preach
If someone’s on vacation, respect their time off. Don’t text or email them. Make it easy for them to unplug by not contacting them, and encourage their co-workers to do the same. American workers report that the fear of work piling up and the stress of stepping away from their job keeps them from taking more time off. While this stress is very real, being supportive and encouraging will make taking time to refresh easier for everyone.
Letting people unplug also helps build a work culture where people can say “no” without guilt or fear. Being able to accept the occasional “no” and support employees when they decide to protect their work-life balance makes for a healthy workplace culture and happy employees.
Ask About and Encourage Diverse Hobbies
It may seem counterintuitive, but interests that are seemingly unrelated to one’s profession can actually make employees better at their jobs. For example, doctors who studied art were better at noticing details about a patient and provided better care as a result. Whether their hobbies help develop complementary skills or help employees grow their network, encouraging out-of-work pursuits can have tangible benefits for your organization.
Support Employee Health and Wellness
Having an excellent health plan and an accessible care network is one way to ensure that your team has access to routine check-ups, mental health services, specialists, and other resources to promote healthy, fulfilled lives. Health benefits are one of the simplest factors for encouraging employee wellbeing, balance, and self-care.
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Khullar, D. (2016, December 22) What doctors can learn from looking at art. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/22/well/live/what-doctors-can-learn-from-looking-at-art.html
Leadem, R. (2018, February 18). Is work-life balance even possible? (Infographic). Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/309121
Yakowicz, W. (2015, June 15) Why you need to encourage employees to use their vacation time. Inc.com. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/will-yakowicz/4-reasons-why-you-need-to-encourage-employees-use-vacation.html