You understand that work life balance is important to your employees, but it’s also important for you. Because as a leader and/or manager in your company, it’s your job to foster it. Here’s how to promote work life balance in the workplace:
Table of Contents
Understanding What Work Life Balance Is
Most people think that work life balance is about how much time is spent working versus not working. But that’s not really the case. The amount of time spent working is merely one component of the overall work life balance puzzle.
Work life balance is ultimately how your employees feel about their roles at work, their connection to their work (and the people there), and how the company (including management) treats them. It’s about how they feel about their work and how it fits into their life.
If you want to know how to promote work life balance in the workplace, you must understand the components that go into how to measure it. When it comes to measuring work life balance, there are two main steps:
- Step #1: determining how satisfied, engaged, and fulfilled the employee is at work.
- Step #2: determining how satisfied the employee is overall in life, while comparing and contrasting the various categories of life, such as work, finances, relationships, health, and spirituality.
You only have control over the work side of the equation, but it’s a huge piece of the work life balance puzzle. So, how do you measure that?
[Related: for how to properly measure work life balance, read How to Measure Work Life Balance Without Feeling Discouraged].
How to Measure Employee Satisfaction
There are 10 main components that determine whether employees are satisfied at work. Here are each of them, and what to consider when trying to promote a better work life balance for your employees:
Do your employees have opportunities to utilize and further develop their skills and knowledge? Is that even encouraged?
Most people want to feel like they have a purpose and can make an impact. Continually developing your employees is how to make them feel this way at work.
How does your employee feel they perform versus how they feel they’re being evaluated (and is there a disconnect)? Are they motivated to perform to the best of their ability? How engaged are they?
How productive are your employees? This isn’t just about whether they deliver good work product, but about how well they’re able to prioritize the right things, get their work done well, and stay focused and motivated throughout the work day.
Do you compensate your employees based on their performance? Are you promoting people who deserve it (and not those who don’t)? And how do you recognize them for the work they do for you – both publicly and privately?
Collaboration is an important component to how your employees feel about their work life balance. How well do your employees work together? Do you pit employees against one another or do you foster collaboration. How do you manage (is it collaborative or one-way)?
Do you clearly communicate to your employees about:
- the company vision;
- goals and policies;
- what’s expected of them; and
- how they’re progressing?
And how often do you do this?
Time and Flexibility
Are you flexible about where your employees can work from? How many hours do your employees work per week on average? Do you allow for flex schedules? What expectations are there in regards to reviewing and answering work emails and phone calls during weekends, evenings, and vacation time?
Stress and Anxiety Levels
Do your employees often feel stressed and/or anxious because of work? Consider the demands you’re making of them and whether timelines are reasonable. This component is directly affected by all the other ones. If you score well on all the other components, then this one is likely to be low too.
Do you foster effective mentoring programs? How well do your employees trust those they work with (including peers, managers, and leadership)?
Self-confidence is an often-overlooked component to having a happy work culture (and good work life balance). But it’s absolutely necessary if you want people to be engaged at work and feel included. How do you promote healthy levels of self-confidence in your employees?
[Recommended Reading: Become More Self-Confident at Work To Improve Your Leadership: 5 Surprising Tips].
Why Promoting Work Life Balance at Work Is So Important
When reviewing the components above, it should be obvious why work life balance is so important to you as a leader in your company. By learning how to promote work life balance in the workplace, you’ll be:
- investing in your employees, making them healthier and happier at work;
- increasing employee engagement, which means better productivity and performance; and
- improving the bottom line of your company since happier, healthier, and more engaged employees mean better work product, less turnover, and even less illness.
Not only that, but you’ll become known as a great place to work, attracting better people and garnering more loyalty from your customers and clients.
10 Tips For How to Promote Work Life Balance In the Workplace
Based on the components above, it’s clear that work life balance is grounded within the company culture. But how can you cultivate the right company culture? One that makes for a happy, fulfilled, and well-balanced employee?
Here are 10 tips on how to cultivate the right culture at work so that your employees feel more balanced:
Tip #1: Ask Questions
If you want to foster a better work life balance, the best place to start is by asking your current employees how you measure up.
Ask them what would foster a better work life balance and for their ideas. Take a survey measuring the components listed above. You don’t have to solve every problem identified in your survey, but it will identify the big gaps and where you can easily get started to start promoting better work life balance at work.
Just by asking them for how you can do better and then making a concerted effort to address their issues goes a long way. Remember, it’s really about company culture. This is a good first step to developing a collaborative and supportive culture.
Tip #2: Put Your Employees First
This is about shifting your mentality so that your employees are first. That means that your shareholders, clients, and bottom line come after your employees.
This goes against what most of people are told to focus on. Remember, if you have happy, healthy employees, then the rest will fall into place. Your clients will be well served and bottom line will reap bigger rewards.
Tip #3: Educate Your Employees
There are three steps to this:
- Educate your employees as to why work life balance is important, both for them and for you (and the company);
- Have policies that promote work life balance; and
- Enforce your pro-work life balance policies.
For example, it’s understandable to send late night and weekend emails (especially if you send them because it’s when something comes to mind). However, don’t expect your employees to get to them until working hours. And ensure you’ve made it clear that (1) you send emails when you think of things and (2) don’t expect them to get to them other than during working hours.
Tip #4: Watch for Burnout
As the boss, it’s your job to look out for your employees’ well-being, as they’re unlikely to volunteer that they’re burning out. Educate yourself on the signs of burnout and high anxiety and pay attention, especially during high-stress times at work.
If a typically attentive, hard-working employee makes excessive errors that are unusual or seem overly tired for a week or more, ask them what’s going on. Showing that you care goes a long way. And do what you can to lighten their load if they’re overburdened by work.
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Tip #5 : Support Flextime and Telecommuting
You might believe that allowing employees to have flexible schedules and/or work from home would decrease productivity. The truth is: it’s the exact opposite.
Studies have shown that employee productivity increases by up to 13% when working from home. And flextime allows employees to work when it’s most optimal for them, which can improve focus and productivity.
If you don’t already allow for flextime and haven’t promoted working from home when needed, consider putting into place new policies that allow for both.
Tip #6: Support Your Employees
Support employee growth and development by:
- giving them opportunities to challenge themselves and grow;
- providing honest feedback throughout the year (not just during annual evaluations);
- helping them develop in areas where they’re weak;
- paying them what they’re worth; and
- having their back when they need you.
Basically, treat your employees how you would want to be treated. This will increase their engagement and motivation levels, while improving their self-confidence.
Tip #7: Communicate Clearly and Often
Have a clear company vision that’s communicated to everyone. Put policies in place that promote the culture you want. But that’s not enough. You must also enforce company policies and live out the company vision.
Tip #8: Foster Collaboration and Openness
Foster collaboration among employees instead of pitting them against one another. After all, you’re all working for the same company and to ensure the best product and/or service to your customers.
Be sure to look at yourself too. If you’re not open to new ideas from your employees and don’t listen, then you won’t be able to foster collaboration at work.
Tip #9: Respect Boundaries
Respect the boundaries of your employees. When the’re on vacation, don’t send them numerous emails and call them (other than for extreme emergency purposes where you truly need to ask them something).
It’s important to note that you should have boundaries yourself (and likely do). If you want your employees to respect you and your boundaries, then you must respect theirs.
Tip #10: Encourage Breaks
People are more productive, think more creatively, and learn more when they’re able to take regular breaks. Encourage them (and consider taking them yourself as an example). What type of breaks? Taking time for lunch away from the office counts. So does getting up to walk around and move several times per day.
[Recommended Reading: Feel Too Busy to Take a Break? 3 Tips for Resting Without Guilt].
By implementing the tips above, you’ll quickly cultivate a company culture that puts employees first, fosters better work life balance, and thereby improves the company’s bottom line. It’s win-win all around.
Until next time…
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