The business world, for the most part, has finally come round to the realization that healthy employees = productive employees. But with the perceived threat of AI making practically everyone a little nervous about being that much more replaceable, there’s also increased pressure on workers to go out of their way to show their worth – even if that means their families and home lives suffer as a result.
And while this might sound like a good thing for your business, at least at first, stress and burnout will cost your company big time in the long run thanks to low morale, reduced engagement and greater absenteeism. Here are 9 ways to encourage a healthy work/life balance that will make your employees happier, healthier, and more productive – and your business more profitable.
- Lead by example
As their boss, employees take their cue from you in number of ways – from what the preferred dress code is, to how many hours they’re ‘expected’ to spend at the office regardless of what their actual contract says. If you come in early and stay late on a regular basis, this is what they’re going to feel they need to do in an effort to impress you.
Avoid this by making a point of leaving the office when home time rolls around – even if it means sneaking some work home with you!
- Don’t let annual leave pile up untaken
There’s a very good reason companies offer paid vacation leave, but it’s often the employees who need it the most who don’t take it! Have a sit-down with any workers whose leave days are piling up, and try to get to the bottom of any work commitments or responsibilities that are making them reluctant to use their leave.
- Embrace remote work and telecommuting
Allowing them to work from home is one of the best ways you can help employees who are struggling to balance their responsibilities outside of the office with work. It’s not just that they can be physically present at home this way; it’s also the massive time-saving of ditching the daily commute which can add hours of quality family time to their week.
And by taking advantage of tech rentals – including everything from laptops and tablets to mobile phones – you’ve got an affordable way to ensure your employees always have access to the latest models to perform their duties without having to purchase them outright.
4. Expand teambuilding events to include partners and kids
Another way to show you understand and value your employee’s lives outside of work is by giving them the chance to involve their family and partners in appropriate work events. Not only does this give everyone an opportunity to get to know each other, expand their circle of friends and create a support network, it also means they don’t have to find a babysitter!
- Be on the lookout for signs of burnout
Common signs that an employee is nearing the point of burnout include:
- Taking longer to perform standard tasks (a sign of exhaustion and inability to focus)
- Mistakes and missed deadlines
- Taking more sick days and coming in late
- Mood swings, anger and irritability
- Waning enthusiasm and engagement
Keep an eye open for these signs and act swiftly if you notice a pattern.
- Make eating healthy at the office easy
A poor diet centered around junk food and processed snacks drains your employees’ energy for everything – both at work and at home. Offer healthy alternatives if you can, and implement (and take part in!) an office wellness program, even if it’s just on a very small scale.
- Encourage staff to work smarter rather than harder
Rather than being afraid of AI and automation, show your employees how they can get more done in less time and with less stress if they embrace it. Make it clear that you value your employees for their creativity and ability to innovate rather than grind through repetitive tasks.
- Be honest about how ‘urgent’ that new task really is
If you had the initiative to start and lead a company, you’re probably chock-full of ideas on a regular basis. When the lightning strikes, you probably hand over several tasks to your team, perhaps with a slightly manic gleam in your eye. This gives the impression that this new task is terribly urgent – forcing them to try and complete it on top of their standard responsibilities. Be aware of this, and make sure you clarify which tasks really are urgent and important, so your employees don’t get overwhelmed and feel they have to work late to get everything done.
- Different strokes for different folks
Finally, remember that work/life balance looks different for everyone. A new recruit brimming with ambition and a desire to prove themselves is naturally going to give work a higher priority than an established employee with a family to care for. Your job as manager is not so much to decide what work/life balance looks like, but rather to pay attention and act when the scale is looking lopsided!