Jackson, TN, where our CPA firm is headquartered, isn’t a big city but it has a lot going on. It’s easy to quickly find your schedule filled with plenty of activities outside of work.
Even in nearby West TN “farming communities” like Brownsville, Dyersburg, and Milan, hard-working people can find themselves stressed and pressed for time to finish everything in their lives.
In this post, we’re continuing a series we’ve been doing to help you and your employees avoid burnout and costly turnovers by developing better workplace culture and achieving a better work-life balance. This time we’ll look at the fact that better work-life balance starts with managers.
We believe that you and your team deserve to love your life and love where you work. Setting and modeling healthy work-life boundaries will help you achieve exactly that.
How Companies Can Improve Work-Life Balance
As a business that needs to get work done and products or services delivered, your primary goal is staying profitable. Coming in closely behind that, however, is the need to take care of your employees. (They’re the ones, after all, who make the first goal possible.)
Many people are simply stretched to the limit between responsibilities at work and the demands of their personal lives. An article on this topic at USChamber.com also reminds us how the COVID pandemic disrupted so many workplaces. In many cases, working from home only made the tension between work and home even more difficult. As they said, “Employees who may struggle with their personal life now can’t escape those problems in an office.”
While you can’t take responsibility for how your employees manage their personal affairs, you can do a few things to help them (and you!) keep from getting overloaded while at work.
1. Allow flexible hours and/or remote work options.
In a recent poll conducted by Sage.com of 3,500 employees, 81% said they “placed importance and value on flexible working.” Gallup reported in a recent article on “Returning to the Office: The Current, Preferred, and Future State of Remote Work” that 70+ million U.S. workers could work remotely, and only 2 in 10 are currently working on-site.
By allowing your employees the flexibility to either work from a different location or at different hours, you can help them ease some of the stress that happens when life outside of work is unpredictable. If a child or loved one is ill, they could work from home and care for them. If a crisis happens during the middle of the day, they could leave to take care of it knowing that they can get their work done later on.
2. Value productivity over the number of hours.
Too often, employees end up simply “punching a clock” with few results to show for their time because that’s what their employers have told them (either directly or indirectly) is most important. But if you can emphasize the quality of the work getting done vs how long it takes to do it, you can set your team up for less stress and more work-life balance success.
We get it, in a lot of industries, if a shift isn’t covered problems happen. However, whenever possible it’s to everyone’s benefit to value productivity over hours.
3. Build in breaks.
It’s easy to have your head down, working on a task, only to look up and find that hours have gone by and you haven’t moved. Physically and mentally, it can take a toll on the human body to work without taking breaks.
Make sure your workplace is the kind of place where employees know they have the freedom to get up and walk away from their work for a few minutes when they need to. Stretching their legs, stepping outside for some fresh air, or just getting a change of scenery in a different part of the building may be all they need to be sharp and productive when they get back to the work at hand.
4. Don’t give them too much to do.
Some people are overworked because they are workaholics. Others have more work to do than they can handle because their leaders keep giving it to them. As a manager or business owner, ensure you aren’t responsible for giving your people unreasonable workloads. Observe them at work from time to time, and check in with them to make sure they can reasonably do what they’re being given to do. If someone is overloaded, you may need to shift some of those responsibilities to others…or consider hiring additional employees.
5. Lead the way.
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts on this topic, your job as a leader is to lead. Are you working long hours without breaks? Are you sending calls and emails from home after hours? Has it been years since you took a day off? Your employees notice, and they’re most likely following your example.
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Better Work-Life Balance Starts With Managers
Continuing on that last point, there’s a great article from WeWork.com on “Why Work-Life Balance Needs to Start With Employers.” They echo many of the points above, but they also say “don’t make employees feel that there are unwritten rules about how dedicated they should be–lay out your expectations then follow them yourself.”
Your staff is watching.
Work-Life Balance Policy
Instead of making them wonder about the “unwritten” rules of the office, why not establish a clear work-life balance policy so everyone knows what is expected and what is allowed? By taking a few minutes to write out some basic things, you can answer a lot of questions and create quite a bit of peace of mind.
Every business is unique, so there’s no one formula for a work-life balance policy that applies to everyone. And it doesn’t have to be a complicated document. Simply write down some guidelines that are acceptable to you and your company’s culture. Then share them with your team so that everyone is on the same page. Get their feedback and tweak it together so everyone has “buy in.”
For a deeper dive into the topic and examples of how several companies are implementing these kinds of policies, check out this article from RedWerk.com: “Work-Life Balance Examples: Best Initiatives to Become a Top Employer.”
How Can Organizations Develop Culture That Supports Work-Life Balance?
The bottom line is something we have mentioned several times, but it is important enough to be worth repeating: model it.
If you want healthy, productive employees who work hard while they’re at work then leave it at their desk when the day is done to be healthy and productive in their personal lives, you have to be doing that yourself. Just as the body goes where the head tells it to, your company goes where you, its head, lead.
For more on creating a winning workplace culture, take a look at another post we did on how creating a positive workplace environment helps your business grow.
Let Our Business Pros Help Your Leadership Work-Life Balance
We’ve been helping small businesses grow for over 40 years by providing more than the financial services of a typical CPA firm. We enjoy partnering with you on payroll and HR support, new business formation, strategic planning, and more…everything it takes to help you win in business! Find out what it means to “expect more from your CPA!” Schedule a call today.