Work/life balance. It’s a term we hear a lot, moreso if we’re in a role that requires us to put long or late hours in.
But in the backdrop of a global pandemic which has shifted the working environment as we know it, work/life balance is a term which is coming to the forefront again. As employees and team leaders adjusted – in some cases, permanently – to working remotely, the global workforce has encountered more burnout than ever (up 43% YoY), and even “zoom fatigue”.
But what can employers do to help? They can promote work life balance strategies.
It’s suggested that rises in burnout cases and general employee and leader malaise are due to workers struggling to draw a definitive line between home and work now that they’re, well, working out of their home environment.
Data from NordVPN suggests that across the UK, US, Australia and Canada, employees were increasing their average working day by 2.5 hours. That’s a lot, and it tips the scales unfavourably toward a poor work life balance, which has an array of adverse effects on productivity and mental wellbeing.
Work life balance strategies can change this, and can be promoted easily, effectively and efficiently by employers of all shapes and sizes. Below, we’ve given some general guidelines as to what a healthy work life balance looks like, and we’ve listed some recommended strategies to start rolling out.
What is considered a good work life balance?
A good work life balance will look different for everybody. Holistically however, a good balance is viewed as that which allows employees adequate time to spend outside of work on things like their family, social events and hobbies.
As an example, healthcare workers such as doctors and nurses are often seen to have poor work life balance because they work long hours – up to 12 a day – which then leaves them little to no time for interests or personal commitments outside of work.Whilst in the healthcare or pharmaceutical professions striking a work life balance isn’t easy due to the nature of the work involved, it’s seen as particularly problematic when that type of imbalance occurs in industries where it needn’t, such as in administration or HR.
What is a work/life balance strategy?
A work life balance strategy is a framework, or a structured process of advice designed to encourage a balanced approach between work and personal lives called work-life integration.
Strategies can exist as part of structured changes to the working processes of a business, for example flexible working hours, or they can be actively implemented by employers as part of EAPs (employee awareness programmes), for example encouraging social activities.
Related Reading: Work life balance strategies aid business growth by investing in the wellbeing of employees, but if you’re looking for more, you’ll need our recommended business growth strategies.
What are the five steps to working life balance?
There are five steps to take that can lay the initial foundations for a work life balance and that can aid in the implementation of a work life strategy. They are:
- Task Management: Using task management tools can visually represent the day, which helps in knowing what to accomplish and prioritise.
- Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins which can refresh the brain, lift the mood and negate poor mental and physical wellbeing.
- Remove distractions: When at work personal messaging should be silenced or removed, and likewise, when at home work communications should be silenced or switched off.
- Delegate: If you want to go far, go together! Delegating can help to even workloads and reduce additional unnecessary hours.
- Relax: Everyone deserves to be able to step away from work and unwind, so time off should be encouraged and enjoyed.
What strategies should be implemented to support work life balance?
The good news is that there are a plethora of different work life strategies that can encourage balance. We’ve listed the top 5 below:
1. Flexible hours
Workplaces, industries and societies have evolved. Whereas when Dolly Parton sang about 9-5 it was the best and only available option, it’s not any longer and flexible working hours can help greatly with striking better work-life balance integration.
Different people work best at different times of the day, and many people are also choosing to have families first and careers later. This means that they need hours that work around childcare responsibilities, and 9-5 doesn’t always allow for that. You don’t want to be the business missing out on top talent because your working hours don’t leave room to balance a family.
Consider changing workplace processes to allow for 8am-4pm, 7am-3pm, 10am-6pm, or depending on your industry, an 8 hour day that can be worked around an employees day. For example 8am-12pm, and then from 4pm-8pm.
2. Cultivating a culture of trust
One of the main obstacles in employees working from home before the pandemic was rooted in archaic employer mistrust and insecurity. There was a misguided belief that if an employee couldn’t be seen, they wouldn’t be working which was unfair.
Now that employees have got used to working from home, businesses can leverage a culture of trust to provide better work life balances for their employees. For example an employee who may have had to commute an hour each way to the office was losing 2 hours of their personal time. If they work just as effectively at home and are happy there, why not give them those two hours back by allowing the option to work remotely.
3. Offer workplace perks
This may be dependent on the size of your organisation, but not every business needs to offer huge perks. Simple things like discounted gym or cinema memberships can go a long way, as can allowing the odd day for the office dogs to meet one another!
Offering perks invests in your employees health and wellbeing and encourages them to strike a balance by making the most of gym or leisure time facilities.
4. Encourage a social committee
Social committees are a fairly new initiative being adopted by workplaces, but they’ve actually always been in the workplace. Social committees are usually a small group of employees responsible for arranging social events for the workplace.
Social activities provide a great opportunity for work life balance because they allow employees to get out of the office and relax. They can also help to deepen bonds between team members, which could enable more work to be shared and therefore task management to be lessened.
Social events can deepen team bonds leading to better team productivity, but do you know about the other tips that can help? Read them here.
5. Promote workplace volunteering
Volunteering is a fantastic option for anybody because it stimulates our sense of reward, which can boost our endorphins and make us feel happier and more valued.
Workplace volunteering goes one step further as it encourages teams to volunteer together, sharing in the sense of accomplishment. In terms of encouraging better work life balance, as well as the endorphin and health boost, volunteering also provides employees with a purpose – something to stop checking the emails for, which can go a long way in restructuring imbalanced routines.
Implementing strategies provides great structure for growth
Work life balances are important for businesses as well as people. The business benefits of healthy, happy and non burned out employees are higher levels of productivity, increased motivation. If they feel their personal wellbeing is being invested into, employees are also likely to remain loyal to the business which reduces employee churn.
Work life balance strategies provide long term value over short term gains, and at Growth Idea under our Business Growth Programme, you’ll learn all this and more. We’ll teach you how these types of management can positively impact your business and set it up for success as well as continued growth. Book your free strategy review today and get started.