Live to work or work to live?
Ways to balance work and life successfully for you and your employees
By Susie Brown, Contributing Writer
It used to be that you devoted heart and soul to your job and after 50 years received your gold watch and went home to enjoy your retirement. However, times have changed. A Corporate Executive Board survey representing 80% of Fortune 500 companies, ranked work/life balance as one of the most important workplace attributes (second only to compensation).
No doubt you want to bang-for-your-buck from your employees, but if you overload them and don’t account for time off the clock you will end up with an office full of frustrated, burned-out people who are starting to forget their kids’ names, losing friends, giving up exercise and travel not to mention learning opportunities. It’s possible to foster excellence in your employees in both their professional and personal life, striking the balance you need as an employer and your employees need as individuals.
You can assist your staff by offering policies that allow them to balance the different facets of their lives. Offer a flexible schedule – which doesn’t mean that employees come and go as they please, but rather offers them creative options such as a four-day work week, job-share, part time or telecommuting. It may require more planning, but flexible work schedules are a cornerstone for work balance.
[pullquote]They found that employees who feel they have good work/life balance tend to work 21% harder than those who don’t.[/pullquote]Offer PTO (Paid Time Off) instead of sick days, vacation, etc. If an employee needs time off, they need time off, and by not labeling the time you can eliminate confusion and additional policies. There is a freedom an employee experiences when s/he can take time off without explaining it to their employer. One note: if you want employees to use their free time it may be worthwhile to limit their ability to carry their PTO days over into the next year and “rack them up”.
Practice what you preach. Managers and senior managers should model the balance you want your employees to strike. If a Senior Manager takes PTO but answers all emails from home, it sends a confusing message and effects employees’ personal choices. By creating and demonstrating the expectation that an employee on PTO has limited access to email, it clears up any issues while allowing emergencies to be attended to.
Allow employees to take unpaid leave for unexpected life cycle needs. We all encounter serious, life-changing events, emergency, family needs or even just the desire to explore life and career opportunities. These can include the premature birth of a baby, nursing a parent with a serious illness, extending maternity leave for an additional 4-8 weeks, attending grad school full time to complete classes only available during the day, etc.
Rewarding a team after putting in extra and then some should become a given and then there’s the classic worth repeating: sponsor employee and family events and activities to encourage team building, friendships among employees and their families. All of these help an employee find the life/work balance while showing them first hand that you appreciate and acknowledge them as people and not just work assets.
Susie Brown is a FastUpFront Blog contributor and business author. They offers a business loan financing alternative based on business cash flow. To apply for business financing visit FastUpFront.com