Find out why your employees are struggling to maintain work-life balance and how you can help.
No longer just a belief by workers everywhere, it’s now a fact proven by organizational scientists that we don’t have to sacrifice time with friends and family, pets, or hobbies to accomplish work in a timely, efficient manner. In the current world of Zoom meetings and home offices, employees have more flexibility than ever before – but what if some of the technology associated with working from home is actually causing extra anxiety for your employees, rather than setting them free?
A University of British Columbia study has found checking email frequently can increase stress levels – a habit that’s easy to slide into when you work remotely. Poor work-life balance leads to poorer quality sleep, and can cause even bigger health problems in the longer term.
Even before the pandemic, employees were increasingly struggling to find an equilibrium between time spent in and out of the office, according to FlexJobs research. If your office is now also your kitchen or bedroom, this problem will only get bigger.
While some of the reasons can be unique to individual workplaces, there are certain work-life balance issues that everywhere is prone to – and for many of these situations, employers can often do more to help than they realise.
Addressing the issues below will not only help your employees, it will boost productivity, staff morale, and staff retention. So, are you ready to reset the scales?
No more emails during happy hour
Email, mobile devices, and other tech advancements were nothing short of miraculous, during the global pandemic. But they also mean many employees are now contactable pretty much all the time. So, it’s no surprise many of them find themselves taking calls and emailing outside normal business hours and have trouble – literally – switching off at the end of the day. Even before the pandemic, one in five employees spent more than 20 hours working out of normal office hours each week, according to WorkplaceTrends.com and CareerArch research.
Now that working from home is more common – and may even be the new normal for your company – it is time to establish, or rethink, your communications policy – and be ready to enforce it. Creating clear guidelines about contacting employees outside work hours can help your team draw an important personal line between home and work – even when they are technically the same place. This will not only make their home lives better, it will also make your staff happier and more efficient.
This problem is really the other side of the coin. While some companies have embraced remote working for the long-haul, other companies are pressing employees to start coming in all or most of the time again. If this is your company, it may be time to rethink this policy. Excessive commutes have traditionally been one of the biggest factors eating into employees’ free time. As well as killing their social lives, long commutes can rob your employees of precious family time as well as sleep – which is definitely not going to help their performance at work. A 2019 IWG survey found two out of five professionals actually thought their commute was the worst part of their day. As more and more companies offer flexible working, failing to keep up will not only damage productivity, it could encourage your employees to go and find it elsewhere.
Sixty percent of employees believe a difficult manager — one who is demanding, overbearing, or simply doesn’t understand boundaries — can have the most negative impact on work-life balance, according to Workfront.
The good news is there doesn’t seem to be too many of them out there. Two years after that survey was conducted, Robert Half Management Resources research found nine in 10 workers said their manager was very or somewhat supportive of their efforts to achieve work-life balance; and 74 percent felt their boss set a good — or even excellent — example.
For more information on how to promote work-life balance in the workplace, view our blog posts on what employers can do to start fulfilling the work-life balance promise; why you may need to start urging employees to use their allotted time off; supporting work-life balance for new parents; how companies can help employees manage their caregiving and work responsibilities and reduce workplace stress — and additional ideas to improve work-life balance for employees.