How to Balance Work and Life in Today’s Workplace
How much time in the day do employees have just for themselves, and how much are they spending on work? The answer to this question may play a major role in determining how happy and fulfilled employees feel at your company.
Employees who feel pressured to work even when they’re technically off the clock may suffer from burnout and fatigue, with tension and other mental health issues taking a toll. To boost employee engagement as well as long-term retention and loyalty, you can take a direct hand in helping your workers maintain productivity without letting work cut into their personal time.
Creating a healthy balance between work hours and personal time is a longtime issue, but it has become especially relevant in recent years, as the rise of remote work has erased the boundaries between home and office. Add in the pressure of the Great Resignation, with employees leaving situations that no longer suit them, and you can start to grasp the importance of creating a suitable work-life balance for your teams.
What is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance largely comes down to separation. Employees have their work life and their personal life, with time given to each. Workers with a healthy work-life balance perform their duties during the amount of time they agreed to when they were hired, whether that means 40 hours a week, 8 hours per day or any other formulation.
A negative work-life balance may involve feeling pressured to take on extra hours to finish projects, or being unable to relax because work requests may come through at all hours. Employees suffering under these conditions may also feel tension over work matters that make it difficult for them to enjoy their time off or get a good night’s sleep.
In business terms, work-life balance should be a top-level priority for departmental leaders and human resources managers. A recent Ipsos poll conducted for Paro found 39% of knowledge workers see work-life balance as the No. 1 most important element of their employment. By comparison, 28% said they are most interested in pay.
Employees dealing with negative work-life balance may feel their employers don’t care about them. Stress was the top problem cited by the respondents to the survey, with 35% of workers saying it’s the worst part of their current jobs. That was followed by feeling underappreciated, at 28%.
It’s easy to see how the pressure of a poor work-life balance can add up over time. Working long hours and feeling unable to get away from office duties, even at night or on days off, can keep an employee in a constant state of worry.
Creating a supportive environment, where employees feel they won’t face consequences if they take time for themselves, is the crux of improving work-life balance. Considering the blurring boundaries between work life and home life, this is an urgent matter to address in the current work climate.
How Do Employees Balance Work And Life Today?
While employees are eager to infuse their day-to-day routines with a good balance between work and personal life, especially when working remotely, there are numerous challenges associated with logging off and taking free time.
The lack of separation between the home and the office is one of those issues. When an employee works and sleeps in the same space, there’s a temptation to break down the barriers between work hours and personal time.
The way leaders engage with their employees can set the tone here — are managers reaching out to their workers at all hours, or are they setting clear schedules? Are they making employees feel seen and supported when they take time for themselves?
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), today’s professionals are actively seeking out this level of assistance from their managers. Sentiments of burnout and lack of motivation have spread during several challenging and stressful years. When employees feel their leaders are unable or unwilling to help them cope with these issues, they may begin to look elsewhere for employment.
The WEF added how both employees and potential customers like to deal with companies that treat their employees well, rather than working them too hard. In an era of ubiquitous social media and online reviews, it’s easy for a business’s reputation — positive or negative — to spread quickly.
It’s important for employers to remember the easiest seeming solutions to work-life balance issues may not fully address the problems. Simply cutting hours out of the workday or giving employees more paid time off may backfire if those workers feel they will be judged for not performing extra work during their nominal time off.
Counteracting long, demanding work schedules with pay raises may also prove to be an ineffective response to work-life balance issues. Leaders need to consider that today’s employees rate positive work conditions as more important than pay, and in an aggressive hiring market, workers may have little trouble finding a better situation elsewhere.
Sometimes, the answer to work-life balance issues involves helping employees to help themselves. In these cases, training content can become a pivotal part of a business’s strategy.
How Can Training Help Work-Life Balance?
Whether or not employees thrive may depend on the support they receive from their employers. That assistance may take the form of new policies or options for employees, as well as interactions between managers and their team members, setting expectations and offering aid.
Training also has a role to play in improving work-life balance for employees. Some courses are designed to bring supervisors up to speed on today’s management best practices, while others are aimed directly at the employees themselves, offering tips and skills that can lead to a better work experience.
As entrepreneur Mario Singh explained on his LinkedIn blog, many of today’s employees can improve their own work-life balance by learning new practices. For example, prioritization and tracking time spent on individual tasks can make a massive impact on work-life balance by ensuring employees focus on the essentials.
Planning in advance can also be a pivotal practice for employees. Having foreknowledge about upcoming tasks helps employees break those jobs into smaller and more manageable units. This can prevent situations in which workers find themselves facing tasks that demand extra hours to complete.
Courses Focusing on Work-Life Balance
Some of the specific training modules designed to help employees create a healthy work-life balance include:
- Strike a Balance: This course is designed to help employees prioritize not just work tasks, but also deeply held priorities from their personal lives. By tackling the issue of work-life balance from both sides through improved time management, these employees can keep their productivity up while also being happier and more fulfilled.
- Health and Wellness: This module focuses on employees’ physical and mental health. While there are many factors that go into staying healthy on the job, maintaining an appropriate work-life balance is one of the most prominent issues. Other concepts mentioned in the course include nutrition, hydration and having a support network.
- Reduce Workplace Anxiety: Employees who suffer from a negative work-life balance can experience severe anxiety and stress. This course, designed to counteract those worries, helps workers be intentional about setting up boundaries between work and life.
Other types of courses that can help employees improve their work-life balance include training modules designed to help managers and workers alike adjust to modern workplace styles — these are especially important for organizations moving to a hybrid or fully remote work style for the first time.
What Does Modern Employee Wellness Training Look Like?
Training content for the modern workplace is more flexible than in the past. Instructor-led sessions brought relatively high costs, along with scheduling flexibility, and it was difficult to economically offer training sessions to new hires. Online, video-based content can reach every employee, even in cases when teams are fully remote.
As workplace conditions evolve and the business needs to add to its training content offerings, it’s easy to add new courses. Employees can complete digital courses on their own individual schedules, ensuring all members of the team learn the practices specifically relevant to them.
Managing work-life balance as well as other aspects of employee health and wellness becomes easier with access to a well-stocked training library of digital courses. In an era of high workplace stress, building such a training program could be a major element in building employee engagement, loyalty and retention.