Work-life balance is almost a cliché nowadays because it means something different to everyone. The fact remains, though, that when people have more balance between their working and personal lives, they are often much more content (and more likely to stick around in their current company). Millennials, in fact, seem to value a good work-life balance above all else. What does this mean for employers? If you can improve your improve your staff’s work-life balance, you can positively impact turnover and your work environment. How do you do that?
Here are four strategies to improve the work-life balance for your staff no matter what the industry.
1. Define your business hours as part of your onboarding process.
People make assumptions and often don’t know the rules of engagement. If they start working nights and weekends, it can take more even more effort to change their ways. Communicating your business hours and expectations up front can set them up for a positive work-life balance experience right from the beginning. If team members are in different time zones, define their hours too and provide guidelines.
Often, managers and leaders are the worst offenders – so speak to individuals privately about these habits so they can be empathetic to their teams’ pressures to respond. If you offer flexible hours and staff can catch up in the evening, communicate the ground rules or select “common” hours or channels of communication that have been agreed upon by everyone.
2. Measure results, not time.
They say that what gets measured, gets done – so do people really need to sit at their desks for hours on end? Establish what the priorities are and work to build a work flow that allows staff to achieve those goals while still being able to enjoy their personal lives. A good next step is to start measuring results instead of tracking hours.
Measure specific project outcomes or build metrics around client satisfaction and service delivery. If you have a more structured environment based on shifts, what kinds of small solutions can you implement? For example, can you train temps for more flexibility or implement a system to manage their shift changes and summer hours? By putting the focus on results, you’ll create opportunities to improve overall work-life balance and see performance gaps and improvements.
3. Reduce email.
Time zones and “documentation” demands can make this difficult but challenge yourself for a few days to use the phone exclusively. You’ll find that it is faster than composing an email message and it will reduce your inbox. You’ll also get a chance to connect with others. If this is really not practical for you, work on sending less email overall. The less you send, the less you receive.
Also, to respect business hours, write emails offline or set the “delay delivery” option (in Microsoft Outlook) to send them during working hours so your team is not compelled to respond immediately during the times they are not working. Most importantly, provide alternative tools and processes to reduce email. Ensure that managers lead by example (with tools like Asana or Slack) or soon, email will rise again!
4. Ask for ideas on how to improve their work-life balance.
When you show an interest in your staff’s family and interests, you start to show that you value their contributions and opinions. Ask them what they would want, be approachable, and listen – this will make a world of difference as you work on the changes to improve your staff’s work-life balance.
About Susan Varty
Susan Varty is a corporate writer and co-founder of HeadStart Social and Women Get On Board Inc.