The Boss’ Guide to Improving Employees’ Work-Life Balance

By August 3, 2022Inspiration, Post
How To Improve Work Life Balance For Employees

“Work life balance” has become a buzzword in professional circles. But it is not an artificial carrot to flaunt in your job descriptions.

Work life balance is vital to the wellbeing of your employees and the quality of your workplace.

See Related: 9 Ways to Sharpen Your Public Speaking Skills

This is a practical guide for leadership looking to improve work life balance for their employees.

#1: Offer flexible working hours

When was the last time you needed to take a few hours to go to the dentist? Your annual physical? Your daughter’s school play?

Unless you are your own boss and make your own hours, you probably had to get approval.

It can be frustrating and futile to use paid time off for the everyday necessities of life. Especially if you know you will still meet all of your work deadlines.

These days, employees deeply value a flexible work schedule. It allows them to tend to matters of personal life without being treated as burdensome.

There are two important items to remember here:

  • Trust your employees to get the work done. They know how to balance home life and work responsibilities. If they need to tack a few working hours on to get things done, they will.
    • And guess what? Encouraging them to attend their child’s baseball game will make them happier to work for you.
    • Your recognition of their obligations outside of work will go a long way.
  • Allowing an employee to incorporate flexibility into their regular schedule will increase their job satisfaction.
    • Do they want to tend to their physical well being and take a boxing class at noon? Great! Need to wrap up the day early to pick up their child from day care? No problem!
      • Work with your employees to create schedules that work for them. Their jobs will immediately become more sustainable and you will increase retention.

Smiling person in white blouse practices good work life balance by leaving the office to go to a yoga class#2: Set hard stops for work-related communication

We’ve all been there. It’s the weekend. You are getting ready to see the latest Jordan Peele film with your friends.

And then… ping!

Your heart drops. It’s a work email. Or Slack. Or text. And you are not on the clock.

But… you feel obligated to check it.

What if it’s an emergency?

What if your boss gets mad at you for not answering?

Blurring the lines between professional and personal life is detrimental to employees’ mental health and well being.

Employees need to be able to turn off from work – literally and figuratively.

Set healthy boundaries by refusing to contact employees when they are not on the clock.

And that “emergency”?

It can probably wait until Monday. If it can’t, then it’s time for you to step up and spend time fixing the problem.

That’s why you’re the boss.

Respecting employees’ personal time helps keep their stress levels low. This allows them to do better work.

Set boundaries – they will pay off.

Person in plaid shirt practices healthy work life balance by working at home next to their child#3: Let employees decide where they work best

It’s 2022. If your employees can work remotely and still hit their KPIs, let them.

Remote work boasts so many benefits for your employees!

Family time, the chance to travel, the stress relief that comes with being in their own home. If employees express that working remotely would be beneficial to them, allow them to do so.

Some prefer a defined professional life at the office

Alternatively, some employees will prefer to silo their work life to a designated environment. It supports their well being to have no associations with work when they arrive at home.

Encourage employees to choose for themselves

Support balance for your employees by giving them the choice. Remote employees, in-office employees, what does it matter?

These days, we have the tools to connect everyone.

A boss’ stubbornness will only lead to employees’ resentment and attrition.

Person in glasses and blue blazer demonstrates better work life balance by leaving a meeting on time#4: Respect employees’ work hours

Once you define the structure of your employees’ flexible work schedules, respect those boundaries.

I’m talking about the follow-through. Achieving work life balance is not about talk – it’s about action.

  • Do not call employees while they are with family members, enjoying moments of personal life
  • If employees are doing remote work, that doesn’t mean they are on call around the clock. Hours must be respected, even if they are just moving from the living room to the den.

Your employees’ mental health and well being are dependent on these boundaries being respected.

#5: Leadership sets an example

This is huge. In order for employees to get on board, the boss needs to promote work life balance.

You want employees to shut their emails down, take that yoga class, and actually use their PTO? Then you need to do it too!

Employees should see you:

  • Take a lunch break
  • Offset long hours by taking a Monday or Friday off, prolonging your weekend
  • Create a healthy balance of remote work and in-office work

Encourage managers to do the same. Promoting a healthy work life balance is a top-down effort.

Employees may be nervous to dive in – they need to see that you’re already enjoying the water.

Person smiles and says goodbye to employees working at office as they prepare to bike home after their work hours are done#6: Consider a 4-day work week

I believe that the 4-day work week will become much more common in the future.

This structure is a vacuum that sucks the dry air out of the work week.

By downsizing to a 4-day work week, you increase productivity.

Employees have fewer hours on the clock, so they make better use of those hours. Some will work longer hours during those four days in order to take the fifth day off. Others will not need to.

Longer weekends mean better mental health and well being.

We all know that weekends aren’t long enough. (Something I say as a master of ceremonies and hear the audience audibly groan.)

There are so many household tasks you didn’t have time for during the work week. By the time those are done, you barely have time to socialize.

Or, you’re too exhausted from the work week to have any fun!

A permanent 3-day weekend allows for better work life balance because it gives employees time to:

  • Rest from their hectic work weeks
  • Explore their interests and hobbies, and see their loved ones
  • Take care of personal responsibilities that may be causing them stress

Activate employee engagement by asking your staff what they think about the 4-day work week.

Get their feedback and see if it is something they think could be beneficial.

Bonus: So, What Does An Event Planner Do?

#7: Offer holidays generously

In the same vein as the 4-day work week, employees will rise to the occasion. Even with generous vacation time!

In fact, offering them more quality time for family life and relaxation can improve their work performance.

In addition to personal vacation time and federal holidays, offer company-wide days off.

Do it sporadically but regularly. Don’t wait until employees’ well being is suffering to offer time off.

If you build consistent holidays into the schedule, you will prevent burnout. It won’t have the chance to build.

Person with blonde hair and glasses is happy with a better work life balance now that they can pick their child up from day care#8: Receive feedback

Even with these tips, you are not expected to be a mind reader! You will achieve work life balance more efficiently if you encourage employee engagement.

Here are a few ideas for collecting employees’ opinions on healthier work life balance:

  • Distribute an anonymous survey
    • Not everyone will feel comfortable expressing their opinions face to face. An anonymous survey gives employees the chance to express their needs with the safety of privacy.
    • Perhaps their opinions are informed by very personal circumstances going on at home.
      • They may be feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of opening up about this. Respect those boundaries and keep things fully anonymous.
  • Organize coffee chats
    • Another option is to organize casual get-togethers. These can serve as comfortable environments for employees to communicate.
    • This setting allows employees to support one another. They can lift each other’s stories of poor work life balance and respond to each other’s suggestions.

Again, you are not expected to have all the answers about healthy work life balance. Chances are your employees will respect you for wanting their feedback.

#9: Consider employees’ mental health needs

Mental health is a very serious concern, and just as important as physical health.

It can be scary for employees to come forward about their needs. Many people are gaslit when they express that they are struggling with mental health.

Just because these struggles aren’t always visible, some bosses don’t want to believe they are real.

The most important thing you can do is believe your employees.

Work towards supporting your employees’ mental well being in every facet of work. This is a comprehensive field that I cannot cover in one item.

That being said, here are a few questions to consider:

  • Are remote teams’ and telecommuting employees required to be on camera 100% of the time? Does this increase their stress levels?
  • I guarantee you that a portion of your employees have disabilities. (Yes, even if you can’t see them.)
    • Do you foster an inclusive and accessible work environment? Or do they need to carry the emotional burden of feeling othered because there aren’t properly accommodated
  • Do you offer remote work for those who want it? Many employees, including those who cope with social anxiety, would probably appreciate that option.
  • Does your workplace healthcare plan cover mental health counseling?

Even something like bringing in an event emcee for an employee appreciation day can do wonders for their mental health. Expressing your gratitude is just one way of preventing them from feeling burnt out.

Person improves work life balance by meditating after a meeting#10: Make time for breaks and physical activity

Build play time into the work culture! Maybe your office has space for a small gym, or a basketball hoop outside. Or maybe you organize an afternoon of fun with a corporate emcee

No matter how large or small your offerings, encourage taking breaks.

  • Get folks outside and increase employee engagement by organizing a field day for team sports!
  • Collaborate with other small businesses and create a day-long tournament. Employees will laugh, move their bodies, and make friends.
  • Offer benefits to employees who are keeping track of minutes of physical movement. Lots of workplaces reward employees for tracking time exercising.
    • It improves your employees’ mental and physical health!

#11: Offer assistance with child support

This is challenging, I know. But if you can strategize and build a child support structure, you will reap so many benefits.

I don’t need to tell you how many working parents there are. Paying for child care out of pocket can be devastatingly expensive. And parents can drain their paid time off very quickly.

Taking care of working parents is an essential part of the modern business. Can you:

  • Add child care to your benefits package?
  • Partner with local child care services to offer discounted rates for employees?
  • Offer generous time off when employees must tend to a sick child or family member?

It all comes down to empathy and treating your employees with respect.

Your work life balance guide, summarized

Let’s recap the 11 practical steps you can take to improve work life balance for your employees:

#1: Offer flexible working hours

#2: Set hard stops for work-related communication

#3: Let employees decide where they work best

#4: Respect employees’ work hours

#5: Leadership sets an example

#6: Consider a 4-day work week

#7: Offer holidays generously

#8: Receive feedback

#9: Consider employees’ mental health needs

#10: Make time for breaks and physical activity

#11: Offer assistance with child support

If you follow these steps, you will see great improvement in your employees’ work life balance!

Keep Reading: 8 Helpful Ways to Measure Workplace Productivity

Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetingsspecial eventsgala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on InstagramFacebookPinterestLinkedIn, and YouTube.