The challenges of work-life balance for excelling business leaders
In the highly competitive and fast-paced world of modern business, it’s worryingly easy to let work consume your life. Many Americans today suffer from a poor balance between their work life and their personal lives—they work far more hours than they should, take far less vacation than they need, and many have a habit of bringing work home with them. This creates various problems and issues that offset or even reduce any productivity that may be gleaned from overclocking.
For many businesses, work-related stress and anxiety accounts for most of work-related illnesses and lost working days. Many business leaders, therefore, are taking more time to investigate and examine how to make sure that they and their staff are not overdoing it at work. Such crucial proportioning between work and play not only does wonders for individual mental health, happiness, and job satisfaction, it also vastly improves productivity at far less cost.
Achieving work-life balance
One of the most crucial and important means of finding a balance between work and home is to keep the two strictly separate as much as possible. Always ensure that when your employees clock out, they’re really clocking out as much as their position allows. Certain professions won’t allow for this of course—emergency services tend to always be on call, for example—but doing this provides a clear point at which relaxation can occur.
When employees take their work home with them, there’s no time for them to switch off and relax. They’re basically still on the clock, except a lot of them time they’re not even being paid for it. This can have adverse effects on employee health and performance.
If there is a point where an employee needs to take their work home with them, ensure they’re compensated somehow. Give them additional pay or grant them extra leave in lieu of the additional hours worked. Make sure that you have a suitable means of tracking any additional work time this causes.
Ensure that when your employees clock out, they’re really clocking out.
Further, when people clock out, ensure that they’re able to do so. In very hectic work environments, employees may be obligated —or else feel obligated—to keep working beyond their usual hours. This happening once or twice every month may not be detrimental, but when it becomes routine it can have negative impacts on employee morale and stress.
Work to create an environment where the workload never gets to the point where people are prevented from leaving when they’re supposed to. This means setting up a team that’s capable of adequately sharing the workload; implementing strategies that keep all bases provided with the resources they need; and ensuring work-life balance is always respected.
What does the employer need to do?
As an employer, you have a responsibility to ensure that your staff are motivated, supported, and healthy while under your employ. There are certain situations in which you will simply not have any control, such as instances in your employees’ personal lives that negatively impact their mental health. What you are empowered to do, however, is set up programs and systems where employees are supported and given the keys necessary to promote their own work-life balances.
Keep an open-door policy where appropriate and be sensitive to your employees’ needs and concerns. Encourage employees to come to their management when they feel stressed and overworked. Where they’re overwhelmed by their workload, offer opportunities for it be addressed. If you notice they’re not using their holiday hours, encourage them to take the time off.
Why work-life balance is important
The primary benefit to achieving an effective balance between work and personal life is related to motivation and morale. When achieved, a proper balance ensures that the team remains highly motivated and retains job satisfaction. This boosts productivity, reduces job turnover, and mitigates any work-related stress.
A company that looks after its employees is a company that is looked after by its employees.
Absenteeism drops, because people are already getting the time off that they need, and worker engagement with the company increases because they feel more valued. Work produced is also of higher quality, with fewer mistakes.
Proper balance is also good from an organizational point of view, providing managers and employers with clear sight of the overall business growth strategy. By looking after your employees, the company will garner a better reputation amongst potential recruits. This allows you a much higher quality set of choices for the next recruitment drive.
Nowadays, companies are recognizing this in increasing numbers, to the point where many will consider their work-life balance strategies even before salary packages. Employees are sensitive to this criterion as well—as many as 84% of employees will look at the reputation of the company before they consider applying for it.
The message being learned is clear: a company that looks after its employees is a company that is looked after by its employees.
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