Why should companies even care about work-life balance?
What’s the big deal about work-life balance? To some, it may seem like a lot of touchy-feely stuff that only trendy people talk about over giant cups of latte, on their way to yoga. It doesn’t sound like a topic that would be relevant to being more productive or successful in business – or does it?
Let’s start with a definition. Work-life balance is the practice of devoting time and energy to both work and personal goals for optimum performance in both areas.
There are so many reasons why companies should encourage their employees to have better work-life balance. Here are but a few:
Increase productivity – It sounds counter-intuitive, but allowing employees certain benefits such as more personal days or flexible hours, will increase their productivity. It’s pretty hard to stay focused on work, while you’re distressing about asking for a day off to take your child to the doctor. People need breathing room to take care of their families and themselves on a regular basis. This, in turn, allows them to put their personal roles aside and focus on work while at work.
Avoid burnout – Ever notice how “zoned out” you feel if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep? The mind, like the body does not perform well if continuously over-worked. Taking much needed personal days and booking vacation time is essential to refresh the mind and spirit so that you can avoid a breakdown.
Keep people from quitting – We’ve all heard of the term “paying your dues”. Basically that means toughing it out at a low-paying, high-stress, long-hours type of job. Fresh graduates do it all the time, and even people mid-career will endure the crush of being over-worked and under-appreciated. They do it to learn new skills or to prove themselves and get promoted to something better. But sooner or later, they move to greener pastures. While it’s inevitable that people will switch jobs at some point, don’t risk losing talented employees simply because they are drowning in work. Recognize when they need help to manage their workload and consider shifting responsibilities as required.
Improve morale – In many work places, there are employees who bond by comparing how exhausted they are. This is not a good way to bond! It produces an atmosphere of shared frustration and even resentment. A great way to improve morale is by occasionally treating your employees to surprise breaks. For example, let them go home an hour early on Friday, or round up the department for an impromptu coffee break across the street.
Stimulate Creativity – Every company needs to encourage innovation. It’s how you stay ahead of the competition and give yourselves a leading edge. Creativity dies when employees are so tired that they have no energy for anything beyond the daily hustle. Why not treat your team to an extended lunch break and put your heads together and come up with some really out-of-the-box ideas! Do this on a regular basis and watch how people will feel more appreciated and take ownership of their role, while having a well-deserved break from their routine.
As an employer, you have the ability to create an environment where people can work at a reasonable pace and make a more valuable contribution to the company. Encourage your team to be at their best through better work-life balance.