When companies must sometimes cut their budgets and staff, it’s important to keep employees happy and productive. This certainly isn’t an easy task in this climate. One issue that continues to be at the top of the list is work/life balance. Simply put, this is the division of time and energy spent between work and personal issues such as family, health and hobbies – basically everything non-work related.
Studies continue to prove that too much focus on work can lead to a variety of stress-related illnesses and issues that can lead to errors, absenteeism, burnout and turnover. As a manager, your job is to ensure that your staff is able to maintain the right balance. Try these tips to help keep your work force healthy and productive:
1. Support for work/life balance is critical, and it must come from the top. Many times, the perception that long hours is the only way to rise in a company keeps employees at their desks, working themselves into burnout mode. Top executives should set a good example of work/life balance and expect the same conduct from all employees.
2. Set priorities. When priorities are unclear, employees tend to overwork because they think that everything must get done at once. Setting priorities allows workers to schedule tasks over a reasonable period of time.
3. Train managers to look for and recognize signs of overwork. Supervisors can spot increasing error rates, absenteeism and signs of stress-related burnout more easily than anyone else in the organization.
4. Seminars on work/life balance can help employees understand its importance and find ways to achieve it. Such seminars teach employees how to better manage their workloads, eliminate unproductive work habits, get sufficient exercise and negotiate more flexible work conditions that meet their needs.
5. Flextime is one of the most useful tools in helping workers achieve a good work/life balance. Flextime allows an employee, with guidance from their manager to select the hours he or she will work. Companies can identify which jobs lend themselves to flexible work scheduling and create policies for coordinating flexible schedules when applicable.
6. Telecommuting is a great way for employees to work from home while taking care of a sick or dependent family member. It also cuts down on stress and unproductive time due to a commute. Studies have shown that telecommuters can be 30 percent more productive than their office-bound co-workers.
7. Job sharing is another great option that allows the company to keep two valuable employees working part-time in one position.
8. Encourage all staff to use their vacation and sick-leave time. Managers should advise their staff to take advantage of their vacation and sick-leave benefits whenever signs of burnout or illness arise.
9. Sponsoring employees family-oriented activities is another way to combine work and life. Sporting events, excursions to amusement parks, fishing trips and other family-oriented jaunts are good opportunities to help employees strike a work/life balance.
10. Use your company newsletter to promote your work/life balance policies year-round. Make sure employees know this is your culture – not just something you put in the handbook.