As an employer, your job is not only to oversee your company and make sure your employees are being productive, you also have the responsibility of ensuring their safety, health, and wellness. That includes their mental and emotional well-being.
The statistics from workers across the country are sobering: 7 out of 10 full-time workers feel they do not or cannot carve out enough time for their personal lives because of their job. This makes sense in light of the fact that most employees are working nearly 50 hours a week regularly.
Workers have also stated that they most often blame their bosses for their work-life imbalance (around 60%), citing poor management as the main reason they work more or can’t manage their time. Another 39% see inflexibility at work as another culprit for why they struggle to maintain their professional and personal lives.
How can employers help their teams be productive and feel in control and balanced in their work and personal lives?
Here are some recommendations you can implement immediately that can turn the tide toward total self-empowerment, improvement, and balance for you and all of your employees.
1. Check in Regularly
Schedule weekly check-ins with employees or take a moment during other scheduled meetings to ask how everyone is doing and about their well-being. You don’t have to be pushy or prying, just try to register if anyone on your team is feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
If you do discover a team member missing deadlines, lacking responsiveness, or stating clearly that they feel like they’re drowning in work, your responsibility is to help them find a solution. Reminding them that their job is to get these assignments done or that they need to be working at least 40 hours a week every week is not a helpful solution and will only lead to burnout and employee resentment.
Instead, listen to your struggling employee’s needs and help them prioritize their projects, collaborate with other team members, establish a more manageable workflow, or even try to hire another employee.
2. Encourage Your Team to Unplug
Remind your employees that it’s OK not to be working or responding to messages after work hours, when sick, and when on vacation. It can be hard to let go and stop, especially for your employees working remotely, where they don’t have an office to leave physically.
Let your team know that it’s in their best interest to turn off their work computers and phones at night and on weekends and to recharge fully.
3. Respect Working Hours
As a way to set examples that encourage your employees to unplug, schedule meetings within company operating hours and remind employees to end their work at a designated time each day (and you should, too).
The more you can tailor your work schedule to fit into a balanced schedule, the easier it can be for your employees to do the same.
Additionally, if you notice employees get overstacked with back-to-back meetings or not taking lunch breaks, help them space out their schedules to allow for prep and breathing time.
4. Stay Aware of Company Culture
Normalize employee well-being within the company culture. If you notice employees working late, gently remind them they can go home.
Avoid “instant messaging” culture that demands responses immediately, no matter what time of day or night, and promote a 24-hour response rule where employees can respond to emails and messages within a timeframe that benefits their schedule.
5. Create Connective Spaces
Humans are social and need time and space to connect socially, not just to discuss work topics. To build up your teams, provide them with spaces and opportunities to connect socially.
This could take the form of potlucks to celebrate birthdays each month, starting a book club for employees with similar interests, or scheduling a regular lunch walk for those wanting to break up the day with a little exercise.
If you have a lot of employees working remotely, it can be even more challenging to create these spaces, but try scheduling virtual happy hours or make plans to have team-building events in different locations where your employees work to encourage in-person interaction.
6. Remind Employees of Their Benefits
Like unplugging and respecting work hours, this is a good reminder for you, too! PTO, vacation time, and sick days are available for a reason.
You and your employees should use them (and feel comfortable using them) to take advantage of time off that allows for recharging energy, creativity, and brainpower.
7. Be the Example, Not the Double Standard
You need a work-life balance, too. You need to take time off, too. You need to stop staying late or checking messages constantly, too.
As a manager or employer, you are not above or outside of the best company practices. Encourage your employees to take breaks, and take them yourself. Log off at 5 p.m. and nudge your team to do so, too.
Conversely, be cognizant of your time and workload compared to your team members. If you have little to do or often take off early while your team is floundering from overworking and exhaustion, this will only breed resentment in your employees.
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