Creating a Company Culture that Encourages Work-Life Balance

Creating a Company Culture that Encourages Work-Life Balance

Today, it seems that many employees are more devoted to their employers than ever before. They work long hours and regularly go above and beyond what is asked of them. Unfortunately, many employers don’t realize the stress that this puts on their employees. Over time, many employees can burn out, causing them to decrease in overall happiness, productivity, and ultimately may force them to leave their position, hurting your business.

As an employer, there are ways to help prevent hard working employees from burning out. Though your business’s bottom line is your priority, it’s important to remember that your employees help your business succeed. Employees are more productive when they feel happier and valued. Which partly stems from having a work-life balance. In the past, taking time away from work was seen as a negative. Yet, creating a company culture that encourages building a balance between the office and home life is extremely important to yielding happy employees. Even more, the support of work-life balance must come from top level management.

Take Brian Scudamore for example, CEO and founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. Scudamore has implemented a number of policies to help his employees find a balance between their personal and work lives. First, Scudamore gives all of his employees five weeks of vacation. This can be taken however the employee would like, but must be taken each year. Stepping away from the office in any capacity allows an employee to return feeling rejuvenated and ready to hit the ground running.

Scudamore takes a slightly different approach to employee vacations than most employers. Recently, he implemented a policy that he calls “going dark.” While on vacations, he expects employees to “go dark,” meaning leave work at the office for the entirety of your break.

This policy both encourages and in a sense requires, employees to turn off their phones, not respond to emails or work-related calls and just enjoy their vacation. This may be a bit of a scary thought for some, especially when an important manager wants to take an extended break from work. However, if the proper steps are taken beforehand, a long vacation doesn’t have to mean that no work is done.

Tip: Make sure the entire office is aware of the vacation and has a point person to handle the vacationing employees' primary responsibilities. Take advantage of technology to automate easily scheduled tasks, like social media posts. Taking steps like these can help alleviate the pressure put on the remaining staff.

Scudamore helps build a work-life balance within his company by leading by example. He practices what he preaches. This is another important part of building a positive work-life balance as it sets the tone for the whole office. If employees see that managers value their personal lives, they won’t feel as bad if they value their own in the same way.

One of the best ways to find out what your employees need in order to find a balance between work and life is to simply ask them! Though this sounds easy, it can be hard to get a straight answer from employees if they feel that management may judge them for their opinion. An anonymous survey may be helpful in finding out what employees really need from their employer.

Recently, Motorola was named as one of the best companies for work-life balance. Employees cited their LiveSmart program, which helps to educate employees on the benefits of finding a healthy balance between work and home life. Education is crucial to building a work-life balance within your company culture. If employees are unaware of the benefits of this balance, it’ll be hard to promote any sort of change.

Another major step that can be taken to help work towards a better work-life balance is by embracing alternative schedules. Allowing employees to have a say in their hours can be incredibly helpful. This allows them to make time for their personal lives without sacrificing anytime in the office. Whether it’s dropping the kids off at school or daycare or making it to a late afternoon dentist appointment, employees will be happier knowing they don’t have to sacrifice hours at work to make time for themselves. Along these same lines, it’s important to allow employees to take unpaid time off for emergencies. Employees should not have to take vacation time to ensure they can attend to unexpected emergencies. Make sure that employees know that as an employer, you value them as both a person and an employee.

Other small steps that can be taken to help create a positive work-life balance. One being, affording employees access to daily exercise. Whether this is a mandatory 30-minute break where they’re able to step outside and take a brisk walk or an in-office gym, a number of studies have shown that daily exercise has a multitude of both physical and mental health benefits.

Company outings are another great way to encourage a work-life balance. Getting all of your employees together in a non-stressful environment allows for easy team-building and for employees to develop a relationship outside of the work environment. A company outing can be as small as taking your staff out for happy hour or as much as spending the entire day out of the office, focusing on relieving stress and having fun.

There are many benefits to creating a work-life balance within your company culture. Employees will be happier and in return likely be more willing to work harder when needed. As an employer, it’s important for you to take the lead and ensure that your company has policies in place that help employees find the balance between work and their personal lives. In the long run, your business will grow and succeed in a much healthier fashion.

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