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4 Ways Employers can Encourage Work-Life Balance

Posted by: FernieChamber
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Technology has made it is easy to be connected 24/7. Combine this with increasing workplace demands and a constant push to do more with less results in a work centric life. Our connected world means worktime can easily creep into home time. Hours become longer, work day start and ends become blurred, the demand for constant accessibility weighs on one’s time.
Work can quickly take over our life, and that is bad for business. Work-life balance is shown to have a relationship with a variety of performance indicators from commitment to job satisfaction to firm performance. 
Perhaps in its simplest form, work-life balance means a proper prioritization of work hours and career goals with family, leisure, pleasure, lifestyle activities. Complication to the definition arises as this means different things to different people, and different things to the same people at different times of their life. Chris Golec, founder of Demandbase puts it this way, “work-life balance is about not requiring unnatural things of people. In other words, recognizing that everyone is in a different phase of life, has different challenges, and needs the freedom to handle those obligations.” 
There is no one-size-fits all answer to what work-life balance is. Life is fluid and the balance will be fluid. 
Work-life balance is good for business. Academic research finds companies with work-life balance programs see better firm performance. Higher revenues and profits are earned with an engaged team of employees.   
Companies that focus on work-life balance see better staff retention, higher employee engagement, and bigger revenues. Focusing on work-life balance as an employer can be nerve racking, and it is easy to find excuses not to implement programs and practices to support employees – too costly or we don’t have time. However, the research shows that the direct costs of work-life balance programs and policies are offset by the indirect positive benefits. The biggest benefits coming from happier employees, less absenteeism, lower volunteer turnover, helping behaviours and better employee productivity.  
Looking at how to implement a program in your business, here are four ideas to support work-life balance: 
1. Offer a flexible work schedule. Flexible work schedules do not mean employees can come and go at will, but it does mean developing flexible start and finish times, compressed work weeks, or part-time options. It also can include working from home or telecommuting options. If looking at this option, be sure to make a plan and talk with your team about their needs to build a program that works in your business context.  
2. Leave work at work. There are many businesses, like retail, that don’t have many options when it comes to flexible scheduling. That why it is important to leave work at work. Be sure that when your employees are off, they are not fielding calls and text messages from those on shift asking for help. Let the time of be exactly that, time off. And leave work at work. Same goes for manager and owners. Set boundaries on your time and availability. 
3. Locked-in schedule of shift. Give your employees a schedule for the month and lock it in so they can make plans. There is nothing worse than making plans only to cancel at the last minute because of shifts changes. Giving employees a schedule they can plan around supports their time away from work. You can also encourage team members to work with each other when schedules do need to change so that there are no surprises.  
4. Offer paid time off in lieu of traditional sick live. I remember working with a startup company and we were talking about sick days and paid time for sick days. We talked about how employees lie about being sick to take time off, or lie about being sick to stay at home and take care of a sick kid. We opted to go with paid time off over sick days. Our criteria was 48 hours’ notice (unless someone was sick) and five per year. Employees used it to go to the dentist, get banking done, and extend camping trips by a day. No employee took advantage of it, there were no Monday morning cough, cough, I’m sick calls, and everyone appreciated the honesty. Businesses are encouraged to make a lead time that works for their business. 
The key to a good program is making one that works for your team. Have the conversation with your staff about what they would like to see. Staff at different life-stages will have different needs.  Also, be willing to learn and adapt. As you implement programs, seek feedback from your team. Modify and adjust as needed. You and your team will find creative ways to support a work-life balance. Use these four tips as a starting point on your search for work-life balance. 

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