Section 7 – Maintaining Work Life Balance
Overworked Leads to Unhealthy Employees
Encouraging and assisting your employees maintain a healthy work/life balance is vital to the health of your employees and company. Employee burnout has a major impact on productivity of your company and leads to increased costs associated with health care.
Overworked, ill matching of job requirements and skill sets, lack of proper training, and overstressed employees are more likely to get sick and have high absentee rates. An employee’s abilities, their workload, their responsibilities and how much support they have in the workplace are crucial considerations an employer must constantly be aware of.
Stressed out workers typically have higher turnover rates than healthy workers. Employees can only work at a unhealthy levels for so long before they get completely disenfranchised and leave the organization. This leads to higher costs associated with recruitment and training costs.
In addition, presenteeism can significantly affect the fiscal success of the organization. A lack of balanced work/life separation can negatively affects an employee’s morale and ability to maintain positive and enthusiastic attitudes. Employees who develop negative feelings towards the workplace can quickly influence co-workers and bring down the satisfaction levels of everyone around them.
With the high costs associated with short-term sickness benefits well publicized, employers recognize that there are methods to help employees juggle work and home life. Many of these include simply showing employees that you respect their personal time and provide employees with the courtesy of enjoying their personal lives when not in the workplace.
Today’s electronic world includes 24/7 instant communications. Although in most cases this has taken the business world from community and regional organizations to worldwide capabilities in a few years, it has also brought with it very important needs concerning communication policies for workers.
In far too many cases, there are no distinct policies regarding communications within organizations. Employees are often supplied with laptops, blackberries, cell phones, webinars, videoconferencing and other technology etc, without a second thought to realizing this comes with responsibilities from both the employer as well as the employee. Both parties must fully understand there is a real concern that over work will eventually wear down even the heartiest of souls. Employees are too often answering emails late in to the evening, at home, in restaurants, on the subway, walking down the street, and everywhere in between. While this seems innocent enough, in reality, this can have serious negative effects on the health of people. Without enjoying mental breaks from the pressures and responsibilities of the workplace, employees are carrying stress with them for too many hours each day.
While often beginning innocently enough, left unchecked, communications can quickly impede on employees lives in an unhealthy manner. If employees are expected to be in constant contact with the office, answer emails at all hours of the day and night, when in reality, it can and should wait until the morning; there are problems.
Stress Touches Others
Work life balance is important for the employee as well as the family of the employee. Families are often negatively touched by the actions of the employee trying to handle increasing workloads and lengthy hours. It is increasingly important to be aware of the added communications of organizations to be careful not to unnecessarily impede on the personal time of employees. Without adequate time for families to spend away from the workplace, you risk to possibility of increased resentment from family towards the workplace. This could exacerbate in to stressful events if the family begins to experience what it perceives as feelings of neglect by the employee if too much time is spent away from the family on business.
All employees should expect to be challenged, but the demands of your job should not negatively affect your health or happiness. Although we speak about work/ life separation, in fact, we are really speaking about finding a healthy balance between the two.
Start by planning ‘quality time’ away from your work every week; ban yourself from talking about your work during this time. Try to take proper lunch breaks when you don’t think about your work.
Getting Away From Work
Spending time away from your job can be the most positive thing you can do when you are feeling stressed. A week or so away can have a huge impact on your approach and attitude towards your work when you return. Try to make the most of time with family and friends who are not connected with your workplace. Your work is important, but it should not take over your life. Try and ensure that you have some other activities that stimulate a different part of your brain, such as making better use of time with your family; doing something creative like learning an instrument or hobby; going for walks, exercise or a sports activity.
It’s obvious, but looking after yourself means eating regular meals, enough fruit and vegetables and being aware of your alcohol, fat and sugar intake. Plan in some form of regular physical exercise and get sufficient sleep.
Simplify Your Life
Identify your priorities and adjust your life to make time for things most important to you. Check out your time management. You may be working too many hours, and you may be trying to do too much in the free hours you have. Are there steps you can take to free up some of those busy hours at home? If you are too tired to talk to people in the evening, don’t answer your phone, and ignore those texts coming through.
Take time to look after yourself. Each day, do something you love doing. Say “no” sometimes. Recognize when you are getting stressed, and develop techniques to manage your stress levels. Identify key people who can help you.
Employers Reward Your Staff
Give employees days off. Certain projects or seasons require an unusual amount of work or overtime. After these busy periods are over, reward your employees with a complimentary day off or two. It will emphasize how much you appreciate their efforts and the sacrifices they’ve made. Plus, it increases the chances that they’ll voluntarily pitch in for the next big project.