The key to maintaining a successful business model is to ensure that your workforce is both healthy and happy. It should come as no surprise that ever-increasing workloads often lead to burnout and stress, leaving employees feeling as if they are unable to juggle the demands of their work and home lives. When leaders and organizations actively seek to help their workers achieve this balancing act, they often receive unprecedented loyalty, productivity, and engagement from their employees in return.
While many managers assume that employees should be responsible for finding their own work-life balance, actively promoting work-life balance gives an organization a competitive edge when recruiting and retaining top talent. There are a multitude of programs that are simple to implement, and in fact provide significant financial gains for the organization as well.
Scheduling distraction-free times as part of the work week is an excellent (and free) solution that can greatly increase employee productivity and reduce stress. Allowing employees to quietly focus on their own tasks without responding to e-mails or other inquiries from colleagues can provide workers with a sense of accomplishment and productivity that will carry over into the remainder of their work. Coupled with reasonable work demands, these distraction-free times will significantly decrease feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to focus.
One innovative concept in the fight for work/life balance is allowing employees to engage in flexible work arrangements. Allowing employees to “flex” their time around a set of core hours, such as requiring employees to be at work between 11am and 3pm, but allowing individuals to decide when to complete the other half of their work day, provides an opportunity for parents to work while children are at school or to work around available childcare hours. Similarly, offering compressed work schedules where employees work longer hours per day and fewer days per week can assist employees in finding a balance between work and time with their family.
For employees engaging in predominantly computer-based work, having the option to complete work remotely can allow workers to meet both work and family demands simultaneously. If an employee experiences a sudden family demand, such as the need to care for a sick child, the option to telecommute may prevent that employee from taking time off and falling behind in their tasks.
Many companies have helped their employees to successfully balance work demands and childcare needs by implementing programs to assist in finding childcare or eldercare. While parental leave is provided when a new baby arrives, arranging childcare when the parent is ready to return to work can be a daunting task. Childcare is a significant expense for families with small children, particularly those with infants, and may lead talented and valued employees to decide that the better financial decision is to stay home. Providing on-site childcare options or monetary compensation toward childcare can significantly reduce employee stress and increase their dedication to the organization.
Whether you decide to implement flexible work arrangements, provide child care, or simply communicate to your employees that you sympathize with their balancing act and are actively working to assist in their struggles, keeping your employees’ mental health in mind is a hallmark of a successful leader. By communicating your expectations that employees work hard when they are at the office and play hard when they are away, you will find that your employees are more than willing to give you their very best.
Head of Training and Development
Originally published: 6 August, 2014