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What is Work Life Balance? Here’s How Managers Can Help 

Updated: Nov 21, 2023 | Published Jun 20, 2023

Remember learning how to ride a bike? At first, finding that perfect balance seems impossible. With practice, it gets easier. And once you’ve mastered it…well, it’s like riding a bike! 

Just like learning to ride, figuring out how to balance work and life also requires dedication, trial and error, and practice. But once you’re set up with the right skills and routine, maintaining that balance feels natural.

For employees, work-life balance is about finding their own secret recipe for juggling work and personal life. 

But how can employers support their staff in their pursuit of creating that perfect blend that keeps them engaged, satisfied, and living their best lives?

Let’s try to unravel what work-life balance means and understand why it’s absolutely necessary for organizations to promote a healthy equilibrium for their employees.

What is Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance refers to the equilibrium between career and personal life. A healthy balance is all about giving adequate time and attention to both. In today’s professional landscape, finding that sweet spot is vital. 

Work-life balance meaning: the equilibrium between one’s career and personal life. Finding the balance where fulfillment and enrichment in professional success thrives alongside personal well-being.

Companies who understand the importance of work-life balance are better positioned for the future of work. Doing so promotes well-being, reduces stress, enhances productivity, and fosters healthy relationships for your employees. 

At the end of the day, a healthy work-life balance directly contributes to overall employee satisfaction and organizational success.

Finding the right approach to your organization’s work-life culture isn’t an exact science. There is no formula or strategy that works for every business.

Depending on your company culture – and especially your geographical location and employee demographics – attitudes toward work-life balance can take on a number of forms. In France, for instance, work-life balance has been codified in law. The El Khomri law protects a worker’s right to be able to disconnect from work-related communications (like work emails and smart phones) outside of working hours.

On the other hand, many business leaders advocate for a bridge between professional and personal time. Simon Sinek, renowned author, motivational speaker, and leadership expert, says “the more seamless that we can make work and life, the more we can start to enjoy both because they’re not opposing.”

At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is that your employees are happy, engaged, and healthy. 

Effective Communication and Engagement

Have you tried putting yourself in the shoes of your employees to understand their day at work and at home? We talk a lot about persona mapping, and using empathy and understanding to create an optimal employee experience. But to really promote a good work-life balance, you need to extend these personas to outside of work hours as well.

How do you better understand the personal lives of your employees? And at what point is knowing about their lives too much from a professional standpoint?

It’s all about communicating with your staff in a clear and transparent way to find the right balance that works for them, and ultimately that will reflect on the culture of the organization.

Unique People, Unique Challenges

Every employee is different. Some are parents. Some have a bunch of hobbies. Some may be social, and others much more introverted. Everyone has a unique personal life and each person’s time away from the office is equally important.

If you get to know your staff and their needs, you can work together to optimize their work-life balance. Some may seek more flexible schedules. Others may prefer to shut off as soon as the traditional 9-to-5 work day is done. Everyone is different. It’s up to the employer to understand how they work together to make each employee’s experience fulfilling.  

Time Management and Expectations

Managing your staffs’ time poses many challenges. Without micromanaging, great leaders give autonomy to their employees all while having their finger on the pulse of the day-to-day. With the increase in remote work, managers are faced with an even greater challenge of understanding the workloads of dispersed team members. 

To help promote a better work-life balance, it’s important for leaders to understand the workload of their employees. Open communication with staff, delegation of tasks, and supportive teamwork can all go a long way to ensure fair workload. Using tools like an employee experience platform allows both managers and staff to communicate directly or in groups, and efficiently share projects, tasks, and ideas.

Strategies for Supporting Work-Life Balance

As you can see, supporting your staff’s work-life balance is a continuous effort. But it’s extremely worthwhile. A happy, motivated, and energized workforce is simply good for business.

Let’s take a look at some practical work-life balance tips for organizations of any size: 

6 Ways to Support Your Employees’ Work-Life Balance

  1. Practice open communication: Give your employees the opportunity to transparently discuss their work-life balance challenges and concerns, both with management and among colleagues (like on a social intranet).
  1. Set realistic expectations: Does it seem like your employees are always under deadline stress? Are they rushing to finish or loaded with work? They may not have the adequate runway to perform their tasks. Setting realistic expectations and deadlines is essential to promote a healthy work-life balance.
  1. Be flexible: Where possible, offer flexible work arrangements that cater to the lives of your employees. Remote work, flexible hours, or condensed work weeks are all great options to explore.
  1. Prioritize rest: Studies have shown that vacation time and breaks from work can save your life, minimizing the risk of health issues like heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. Your workplace culture should be one where taking time off is encouraged. Your staff are entitled to their breaks and should not feel guilty taking their well-deserved time away.
  1. Encourage autonomy: Empower your employees by giving them more autonomy to complete their tasks. Avoid micromanaging. Instead, let them take ownership and responsibility for their work. 
  1. Highlight accomplishments: After a job well done, acknowledge employees’ efforts and accomplishments. Doing so will instill the confidence and motivation to take on new challenges. Give praise on your employee app, social intranet, in an email, or privately in person. 

Investing in Employee Wellness Programs

No matter how your organization develops its work-life balance strategy, the focus should always be on the health and well-being of your employees. 

One way to really show that you’re invested in them is to provide your employees with an employee assistance program (EAP). These are strategic internal initiatives that offer counseling, coaching, and support services to help employees manage personal and work-related challenges. An EAP can help employees who are struggling with mental health issues, burnout, or other contributing factors to a poor work-life balance.

Organizations and employees both benefit from EAP programs. They will positively reflect on attracting the best talent, engaging current workers, and maximizing employee retention all while supporting your staff throughout their employee journey.

Fostering a Positive Workplace Culture

Workplace culture shapes the behaviors, principles, and values of how managers and employees perform their work. Because of that, work-life balance is directly linked to organizational culture. 

Within the greater organizational culture strategy, it’s important to foster a specific culture of positive work-life balance. Incorporating work-life balance principles into your company culture and policies helps create a supportive environment that values employees’ personal lives and their well-being.

Leading the Way To Work-Life Balance 

From a leadership standpoint, embodying your attitude toward work-life balance is a direct reflection on the organization’s work-life balance culture. You want to be a good example – no small task for managers who barely have enough time to eat lunch!

Even the busiest of leaders can work to positively show the importance of a healthy work-life balance. You could showcase your personal interests, hobbies, family life, or friends on the social intranet. Show that you take the time for yourself to do what you love in your personal life. By demonstrating a healthy work-life balance yourself, you’ll encourage others in the organization to do the same.

The Work-life Balancing Act

Do you now have a better idea of how to achieve work-life balance for your employees? Fostering an enriching culture that promotes work-life balance is certainly a difficult – yet crucial – endeavor.

Communicating transparently with your staff to understand their wants and needs will go a long way to optimize their experience at work. From there, investing in their health and wellness, as well as allowing them the flexibility to shine at work, will greatly contribute to a happier and more rested workforce.

Looking for more ways to maximize your employees’ satisfaction and well-being? Harness the technology side of the employee experience with an employee engagement app.

Employee engagement digital handbook
Amanda
Amanda
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