As an HR leader at your organization, you want to do more than monitor productivity and manage time-off requests. HR professionals have increasing responsibilities – which includes promoting a great work-life balance for your employees.
But work-life balance is more than a buzz-word, and ensuring that it’s part of your office culture brings tangible results like better recruitment, increased motivation and productivity, and important benefits to your employees. Read on to find out how to promote work-life balance – and why it helps make your organization a better place to work!
What is Work-Life Balance?
What is work-life balance? Qualtrics defines work-life balance as “the minimization of work-related stress, and the establishing of a stable and sustainable way to work while maintaining health and general well-being.”
This equilibrium doesn’t look the same for all of your employees and some may have a harder time finding it compared to others – particularly with the increasing flexibility in the work environment.
Why is Work-Life Balance Important?
In general, we know that there is more to life than just working the years away. But as an HR professional, why is work-life balance important within your organization?
Work-Life Balance Drives Recruitment
According to the Muse 2023 User Survey, 70% of all respondents recognized work-life balance as an important factor when evaluating if a new company could be a good fit for them. It was the most frequently reported – outranking compensation, learning and growth opportunities, and office culture.
As a human resources hero, you’ll want to be sure that you’re promoting a positive work-life balance within your organization and have concrete actions toward this goal to share with potential new hires. The workforce is interested in more than compensation and benefits – it’s your job to show them where your organization excels in other areas!
Checkwriters’ Human Resources Manager, Felicia Corbeil, shares that “when speaking with prospective employees, work-life balance is usually the first thing people ask about – before compensation. That’s if they even ask about compensation during the first interview!”
Work-Life Balance Helps with Motivation and Productivity
Did you know that a poor work-life balance is often cited as leading to burnout? This can snowball into loss of motivation and decreases in productivity – even leading to employees departing the organization. When employees experience prolonged periods of emotional, physical, or mental stress, it’s difficult to keep up with everyday job responsibilities.
And there are numbers to back this up! Gympass’ State of Work-Life Wellness 2024 report found that 95% of workers say their emotional wellness impacts their productivity. This was closely followed by 93% reporting their productivity is impacted by their physical wellbeing.
It makes sense, therefore, that “employees that feel comfortable in their jobs and have an effective work-life balance are proud to work for their companies.”
How to Promote and Prioritize Work-Life Balance
Now that we know work-life balance is important and comes with legitimate benefits for your organization, how can you promote this culture within your organization? It starts by providing resources for both work and personal matters, like workload management, benefits that promote a work-life balance, and acknowledgment of employee health considerations.
Support Workload Management
Great managers prioritize frequent check-ins with their employees to assess how they’re managing responsibilities and gauge the overall job satisfaction level.
This needs to be more than an annual performance review – but it also doesn’t need to be formal. Take time to stop by your employee’s desk or occasionally call or chat with your WFH employees; this also helps to develop a relationship, which aids in retention efforts and job satisfaction. Employees with a stronger connection to management are more likely to be open and honest about how they’re managing their job duties.
In addition, temporarily taking on some extra work to help out your staff can help prevent them from falling behind also build loyalty within your department and organization.
Offer Health Benefits and Incentives
A crucial part of work-life balance is maintaining health and wellness, because burnout can be harmful to employee physical and mental health. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health notes that “when stressful situations go unresolved, the body is kept in a constant state of activation,” which ultimately results in fatigue or damage (aka burnout!).
There are creative ways to promote health and wellness for both your in-office and WFH employees – and you don’t need to have private athletic facilities to make this happen! Alternative benefits include health stipends provided to employees that can be utilized for things such as gym memberships. Keeping your employees happy and healthy will ultimately lead to a more motivated and productive company.
Maintain Flexibility for Scheduling and Breaks
Where possible and practical, providing employees with some flexibility in schedules and breaks can be a positive cultural benefit. Everyone has their own routine, and every company has their own culture and mission, so this may mean shorter, more frequent breaks for some or longer sporadic ones for others depending on your environment. For example, hybrid workplaces can have policies in place to ensure that in-office employees have equal opportunity for flexibility as their WFH colleagues.
Ensure Vacation Stays Vacation
Additionally, encouraging employees to take advantage of their banked time off can go a long way. With the increase in technology and WFH access, many employees feel the need to check-in on work while they are on vacation.
An HR Dive survey found that 56% of employees “did anything from occasionally checking email to joining meetings or working on tasks” while on vacation. Of those who stay connected, 95% of employees do so because they’re afraid of falling behind or missing something important at work. Where appropriate, managers can assure their staff that this isn’t necessary.
Define and Stick to Boundaries
It’s tempting for WFH employees to get sucked into working extra hours to finish a task or project, but this may lead to that blurred line between work and home. Suddenly, an extra 15 minutes responding to emails turns into an hours-long project that goes into the late evening. These types of employees may benefit from a discussion about time management and prioritization. Whatever it may be, help to find a solution that is mutually beneficial and doesn’t lead to bad habits.
Also remember that employees look to managers for example, and that your working style and priorities set the tone for the department and/or the entire organization. When considering a positive work-life balance for your team, be sure to model that balance in your own role. Even scheduling emails to be sent during working hours rather than at midnight protects your staff from the temptation to constantly check-in or respond outside of normal working hours.
Promoting and prioritizing work-life balance benefits everyone within your organization, and there’s ample research to back this up! Better recruitment, motivation, and productivity will flow from a positive work-life culture. You can achieve this in many ways like managing employee workloads, offering creative benefits and incentives, and by considering schedules, breaks, and vacations. And, don’t forget to provide the same benefits to yourself!