It can be quite challenging for people to successfully balance the responsibilities of their home, family and job. And some people are definitely better with time management than others. While the onus is on an individual employee to ultimately achieve a work life balance, we need to recognize the role that employers play in helping their team juggle all of their responsibilities as well as providing them with the tools and resources they need to attain this balance.
Educate and Listen to Your Employees
One of the simplest ways to promote a healthy work life balance is to educate your employees on the topic. This can be achieved by hosting informational webinars or seminars on why finding balance is important and providing tips on how employees can achieve it. Employers can also engage in conversations with their teams to inform them on policies that your organization already has in place to support a work life balance – paid time off, flextime, and telecommuting.
Employers should take the time to get to know their employees on a professional as well as personal level. Most people will not know when or how to ask for help if they are overworked or struggling with coping with stress. If you know your people, you will be able to identify signs of burnout and will recognize when they need additional support or accommodations to alleviate potential mental health issues. Signs of burnout in an employee may include the inability to concentrate, cynicism toward coworkers and their job, being temperamental, and clear physical exhaustion. By educating and monitoring/listening to your employees you are providing them with the resources they need to avoid burnout and to achieve work life balance.
Promote and Embrace Flex Time
A flexible work arrangement empowers employees to determine their own work hours; including what time they start and end their day. Embracing flex time would allow employees to start their day early and end early, start late and end late, or even take a break in the middle of their day and work late at night. The goal of flex time is to allow employees to work when they can be most productive in meeting expectations and executing on deliverables.
Parents have restrictions and demands on their time that go well beyond work – virtual learning, their children’s extracurricular activities, or just things going on in their personal life. Your employees need the freedom and flexibility that is required to manage the different roles that they play in their work and life. By promoting and embracing flexible work schedules, employees will have the ability to be their best selves at work and at home by better managing stress.
Promoting and embracing flex time will ultimately cultivate a culture of trust and accountability. Employers are trusting that their employees will get their job done, but they are allowing them to do their work when it is convenient for them. However, it is essential that employers who are embracing this practice establish expectations and communication guidelines. A team would be very unproductive if its members were all working different schedules. Employers may want to define “core hours” where an employee is required to be working, or at least be accessible. Communication tools such as Slack or Microsoft teams enable an employee to be reachable at all hours via their cell phone. On the other hand, when establishing flexible schedules, employers need to be comfortable with the idea that there will be times when an employee is unavailable. Employees shouldn’t be expected to be constantly tethered to their work emails and should be provided the opportunity to have time away from work.
Support Remote Work
Remote work is here to stay. However, remote work can be very difficult for employers and employees. To help navigate through some of the obstacles that may arise, employers need to be proactive in supporting their remote workforce. Below are some key initiatives employers should take to support employees who are working remotely.
Employers need to provide employees with the tools and support that they need to be successful and effective with working from home. This includes providing access to technology, systems or software that they may have had use of in the office. Employers may also want to change guidelines and expectations. For example, promoting and embracing flex time goes hand in hand with supporting remote work. When employees are working from home, they may naturally be working longer hours if they have a hard time separating their work and personal lives. Flex time will encourage employees to establish their own rhythm, allowing them to take personal breaks throughout the day, as they need. Lastly, employers should be communicating these guidelines and expectations with their team and keeping them engaged.
Lead by Example
Employers can demonstrate how they find a healthy work/life balance in their own life. When employees see their manager working long hours or skipping their lunch breaks, they may feel obligated to do the same. Employees are likely to mirror the work habits of their managers. As leadership, employers need to set an example for having a healthy work/life balance.
This can be done by utilizing the company’s guidelines and procedures and communicating your own boundaries with your team so you are not overworked. Leading by example looks like –
- Working reasonable hours.
- Leaving work at a sensible hour to enjoy your personal time.
- Showing your team that you use this free time to have interests outside of your organization.
- Spending time with family and friends and participating in hobbies.
- Utilizing flex time.
- Working from home.
- Using paid time off, and actually taking the time away from anything work related.
Employers need to set their own boundaries in order to have their own work/life balance so that employees feel comfortable doing it as well.
How Red Clover Can Help
It has been an extremely challenging time for many businesses and their employees. Many employees have had to adapt to the “new norm” by working long hours and sacrificing their personal time. The Red Clover consulting team can help guide your business or organization in creating guidelines and procedures that will promote a healthy work/life balance for your employees, without sacrificing business continuity. Contact us to learn more.