Achieving a healthy work-life balance is a pretty tall order - even when you’re only in charge of your own. It becomes all the more tricky when you’re in the driving seat of a big enterprise that needs happy, healthy, high-functioning, fully engaged employees to do the work that will propel your business to ever-greater heights.
Hold up. Wait just a minute. How did a happy work-life balance suddenly become the responsibility of the employer? Surely it’s up to the employee to balance their own bliss?
Let’s break it down:
Have you heard the quote about how people are like lettuce? There is this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, that says when you plant lettuce and it doesn't grow, you don't blame the lettuce. When the lettuce goes all wonky and sad, the gardener will check the fertiliser, assess the shade, vary the amount of water they give and continue to tweak the environment until the lettuce begins to thrive. They don’t go around blaming the lettuce and expecting it to fix the situation.
Well, employees are people, and people are like lettuce - if you take good care of them, they grow well. Understanding what they need will give your business the ability to tailor an environment in which they can reach their full potential. Most of the time, this starts with a good work-life balance. So, while you can’t force your employees to make good decisions about how they choose to spend their time, you can create an environment that gives them the ability to do so.
How positive work-life balance benefits your business:
1. Productivity will increase like you would not believe
While employee recognition programs are a great way to increase productivity overall, it often helps to take a step back and get to grips with the basics. When your employees have the resources and ability to balance work and life, they will automatically become more productive at work.
Let’s take a real-life example:
Mom A has set-in-stone office hours and an office manager who gives her all sorts of grief when she’s even a few minutes late. As a result, she spends the whole morning shouting at her daughter who is taking longer to get ready than usual and forgets to bring her gym bag to work so she can hit the treadmill over lunch to work off some steam and get some exercise. When she gets to work she feels bad for being mean to her kid, and then she has to forgo her lunch-time exercise session which makes her feel guilty. She is distracted and sad and a pretty resentful of the office hours that keep her boxed in so tightly.
Mom B has flexible office hours that can be adapted to suit her needs. She gets up nice and early to check her emails and ensure that all the work that needs to be done when her 8-5 colleagues get in is squared away. Then she spends a relaxed morning getting her daughter ready for school, dropping her off and going for a run. By the time she gets in at 10:00 she is refreshed and revitalised, ready to get on with the rest of her work. The fact that she has to work a little later or do some more work at home when her daughter is already in bed is not such a big deal when she takes into account that she can do it on her own terms. She feels fortunate to work for a business that allows her this freedom.
Would you rather have Mom A or Mom B working on one of your important accounts? Which one do you think is going to be more clear-headed and chipper with your clients? Hint - it’s Mom B all the way.
2. A much lower employee turnover rate
People tend to leave work situations where they are expected to operate like robots. Conversely, when you create a space where employees have the ability to enjoy a blissful work-life balance, you are setting yourself up for some pretty sweet talent retention.
3. A great rep!
When employees work in a happy environment they tend to be pretty vocal about it and this kind of thing does not go unnoticed in the business world. From time to time, your company will need to recruit exceptional talent to fill pivotal roles, and if the word on the street is that your company culture allows for (and even encourages!) a happy work-life balance, you are far more likely to attract those high-profile candidates. This kind of thing also happens to impress potential clients, by the way - ethical businesses like to spread the love by collaborating with companies who treat their employees well. So it’s a solid WIN all around.
How employees benefit from a healthy work-life balance:
1. They can manage their time more effectively
Employees aren't generic cogs that fit into a hypothetical machine. We all have different circadian rhythms, family obligations, concentration spans and ways of being in the world. Once you realise that one person's perfect scenario of work and home balance is not the same as the next one's, it becomes easy to see why time management is so much better when your personnel can tailor their schedules to suit their work style.
Some people may be perfectly content to answer work emails over weekends and do red-eye shifts if it means they can take Mondays off to go surfing. Others may prefer the structure of regular work hours and conventional blocks of personal time. When you find a way to make it work within your enterprise, a little flexibility can go a long way to encourage effortless self-regulation.
Top Tip: If your business model allows, it can make all the difference to give your employees the option of working from home. They will not only be able to skip out on traffic, save a bundle on commuting expenses and have the freedom of working in their PJs (if they so choose), they will also be far less distracted by things like office chatter, and it will decrease your overheads (i.e. electricity, water, coffee, etc.).
2. There's room for personal growth
People find it hard to put their full energy into their work when it keeps them from fostering personal growth in other areas of their lives. When you’re so busy chasing deadlines and working overtime to keep your job secure that your personal life falls to tatters and you have no time to see family and friends, it’s fairly unlikely that you will be able to stay the pace. Somewhere along the line, something’s got to give. This is why it’s so important to encourage personnel to take the leave that’s due to them and to not overextend themselves in the line of duty. When one person is doing the work of two or three, you have to ask yourself why and change the situation that made it so.
Quick question - does the notion of your employees taking free time kinda, sorta irk you a little bit? Did your skin start crawling when you read the bit about them not overextending themselves?
If so, you need to ask why.
Forward-thinking business owners don’t equate overtired employees with success; they see it as a cause for concern.
3. Employee engagement? It's ON!
Poor employee engagement is the ultimate bummer. Literally, no-one benefits from an unengaged employee. The worker is having a lousy time and the business is not getting their best work. It’s not a great vibe for anyone involved. When you pave the way for a healthy work-life balance, you are simultaneously setting the stage for excellent engagement - an employee who feels that they’re company is showing up for them, is far more likely to show up for the company.
4. They'll be healthier
People who aren’t run ragged 24/7 are able to take better care of their mental health and enjoy a greater sense of overall well-being. They are also able to reduce stress by participating in leisure activities they enjoy and practice stress management in other ways, like exercising or hanging out with their kids or loved ones.
Best of all?
Less stress = better physical health. And you know that that means - fewer sick days and more all-around productivity. YAY!
There you have it - a few very compelling reasons to address the processes and procedures you have in place at your company to ensure that it allows your employees to maintain a happy work-life balance.
Are you ready to unlock this kind of organisational effectiveness for your organisation? Why not build your very own recognition program to get you on your way? Simply click the download button below to get you started 👇🏼