Emerging from the holiday season, it’s easy to see the value of work-life balance: Your employees (and hopefully you) have had a chance to relax and spend time with family. And that makes the new year an ideal moment for letting your staff know you respect their personal time, which can make them happier, more productive and more likely to stick around.
So make your New Year’s resolution to promote a better work-life balance for your employees. Then consider these four tips:
1. Offer flexible work schedules or telecommuting
Unless work must be completed during traditional business hours — 9 to 5, Monday through Friday — consider offering your employees more control over their schedules. You could let them structure their own workday or workweek, as long as they work the required number of hours overall. For example, you could give them a full extra day at home by offering a four-day workweek. Or let them choose their work hours, as Google and Microsoft do, which gives them more options for balancing work and home life. As a bonus, this approach might even increase productivity, because different personalities are more productive at different times of day.
Telecommuting is another way you can support better work-life balance. Surveys show that employees who telecommute have less stress and higher morale, and, yes, they’re more productive. And today’s technology makes telecommuting a breeze. So why not allow your team to work from home (or another location they choose) during some or all of their workweek?
If the position does lend itself to a flexible work schedule or telecommuting, think about giving it a go. But, of course, check with Human Resources first if you’re considering this type of switch. It doesn’t work for everyone.
2. Be mindful of projects and workload
Don’t let your employees get buried in work. A good boss understands limits. As you manage workloads, you might be able to redistribute projects, when appropriate, to relieve an employee who’s overloaded. Or look for work that’s no longer a priority, so you can push back its schedule or scrap the project altogether. Regular reviews are important to this process. And the beginning of a new year is ideal for trimming excess.
Of course, employees might also need to manage their time more effectively. In that case, help them learn how to do so. You can teach your team to use technology to manage their time or offer training, so they gain better skills for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
In some cases, temporary staff could be exactly what you need to alleviate some of the workload. Temporary workers can free up overburdened employees by taking care of daily responsibilities — or relieve those who are busy working on challenging projects.
3. Give time off
Paid time off (PTO) days are part of a healthy work-life balance, but a recent Robert Half survey found that 38 percent of workers take fewer vacation days to avoid returning to more work. PTO days are a great way for employees to recharge, however. So consider ways to encourage your employees to take advantage of this important job benefit.
Give team members a little extra free time, beyond vacations and PTO days. For example, provide a longer lunch break on their birthdays or to get ready for holidays and other special occasions. Or reward their hard work on a project with a day off for fun. Of course, the total amount of time off should be the same for everyone.
Let your staff volunteer for a cause they’re passionate about, while on the job. Starting a toy drive — or a food drive for local shelters — can be a great way to unite everyone around a cause. Better yet, get the whole company involved.
4. Lead by example
This tip may be the most important of all: Practice what you preach and model a healthy work-life balance. Leave on time most days, and don’t check your email on vacation. You’ll show employees through your actions that you value time away from the office — at least as much as the time you spend in the office.