[This article was updated in May 2022 in order to keep it remaining relevant and accurate for our readers, as well as reflect our reputation for quality.]
Establishing a healthy work home life balance is an essential need for all of us, especially if you want to avoid burnout and promote productivity within your company.
However, finding this balance is complicated. With the increase in flexible working, our personal and professional lives have become more symbiotic and, therefore, more difficult to segment into a physical environment, work hours, and communication accessibility.
The good news is every business has the potential to offer a good work-life balance, no matter the industry, seniority, or length of employment. In one study, Kossek, Lewis and Hammer argued that improvements a company can make towards a better work-life balance for employees could either be:
Structural: such as office design and flexible work options.
Cultural: supportive supervisors, collaborative ethos, social events put on by the company.
Both of these working in conjunction will create the best work life balance and the happiest employees.
These concepts are important considerations for any business wanting to enhance organisational effectiveness in both the short and long term. Employees will feel more satisfied and well-rested, and effective in the short term whilst simultaneously enjoying their job more and, therefore, more likely to stay in the long term.
So, what policies are companies implementing to ensure employees are taking care of their well-being and their workload?
We investigate how to balance work and life with our 10 tips.
Work Life Balance Tips
1) Offer flexible hours
Although not always possible, the opportunity to work to different schedules so employees can make their own decisions about how to manage their time and workloads can be a big factor in boosting productivity. US defence contractor Raytheon, for one example, offers flexible work schedules, including compressed workweeks, flexitime, job sharing, reduced hours and telecommuting. The level of trust and control the company places in employees’ hands is impressive.
2) The option of working from home
The rise of remote working technologies and co-working spaces means that workers are reachable from outside of the office. This gives employees the option to avoid the rush hour once in a while, spend time with their children, or complete personal matters that can help with company satisfaction as well as build trust. If a piece of work needs to get done too, sometimes time out of the office can offer a better environment for greater productivity. Communication can still be maintained with supervisors through all the varied communication channels available. However, on the flip side, long periods can conversely affect team morale and long term productivity.
3) Set tech boundaries
In this interconnected world, we can get sucked into staying in constant contact with our smartphones or laptops. Allowing workers to switch off to feel like they don’t need to be available every second of the day is highly beneficial for stress levels and getting that work home balance. In fact, French workers have now been given the legal guarantee of a “right to disconnect” to tackle the 24/7 work culture.
4) Organise social events
Having sociable events that employees can attend can be beneficial and help build a cohesive unit. For example, all teams at tech giant Cisco are provided with a “Fun Fund”, which can be spent on celebrations and fun activities. Our survey looking at employee relationships at work showed that 65% of respondents who had a friend also said that it contributed to their engagement and productivity.
5) Practice what you preach
You may find that some employees ask, what is work life balance? Some may need guidance on what, in general, constitutes a healthy daily or weekly schedule. You may need to lead by example. If supervisors are also involved in socialising and have the same tech switch off boundaries, it shows employees that there is no expectation to keep working.
6) Offer wellbeing options
Whilst some offices have space and resources to have gyms, cafes and cleaning on-site, this can’t always be the case for every company. Smaller gestures can send the same message through to employees who feel they have no work life balance. Ensuring that exceptional performances are being rewarded, and encouraging employees to talk during a lunchtime walk or use gym facilities, can be equally incentivising. US supermarket chain Wegman’s offers a Wellness Program which includes customised yoga programs, subsidised Weight Watchers at Work meetings and employee fitness discounts which are popular with employees.
7) Have a ‘quiet space’
Designating an area of the office for when colleagues need to step away from their desks is another small but effective measure. Perhaps they are having a bad day; some comfortable seating, plants, books, and soft music might improve it. Capital One even offers an Employee Assistance Program with free counselling services for those facing really tough times, showing the company cares about everyone’s mind as well as physical health.
8) Interesting CPD
Interesting professional development workshops for employees keep engagement and interest in the work and their goals. This could be new research or expert talks, some tips on the tech that might save some time or even other wellbeing events that might help them, such as group activities or cooking workshops etc. This can encourage office bonding and new friendships across departments too.
9) Encourage out of work interests
Particularly for younger recruits, sponsoring or helping with further education will be an attractive offer whilst also showing that the business is interested in the personal interests of its employees. The Starbucks College Achievement Plan gives employees who work more than 20 hours a week the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree with full tuition coverage for every year of college through Arizona State University.
10) Offer company perks
Whatever the person is doing in their daily job, it would be nice to feel like they personally get a material benefit from what they are doing. Perhaps the biggest perk of working for Southwest Airlines is that all employees have free unlimited travel privileges for themselves and eligible dependents on Southwest flights!
While this is not an exhaustive list of work-life balance problems and solutions, implementing any (or all!) of these tips can help companies ensure that their employees’ wellbeing is at the heart of their organisation. It will pay big dividends in the eager response received from workers and the more committed they will be to the business as a whole.