How to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance in Today’s Workforce
Creating a healthy work-life balance is often easier said than done for many leaders and employees. This has become especially challenging as technology evolves and creates more opportunities to take work wherever we go.
As more companies adopt hybrid and remote work cultures, maintaining a work-life balance is key to success in this new work normal.
The effects of poor work-life balance
According to the Mayo Clinic, a poor work-life balance may have a range of negative effects on everyone in the workforce. These include:
- Fatigue: A tired employee will struggle to complete tasks overall, hampering creativity and motivation.
- Poor health: Stress, work-related or otherwise, can adversely affect mental and physical health, creating larger problems in overall health and pre-existing conditions.
- Loss of relationships: Being completely dedicated to work leaves little time for anything else. This can result in the loss of close relationships and strong connections. Over time, employees may feel isolated or alone.
When undertaken responsibly, working from home either full-time or part of the time can help employees of all levels build a solid work-life balance. The tips below can help promote a better virtual work-life balance for yourself and your team.
Schedule unstructured time with your team
Providing space and time for your employees to interact outside work projects will allow them to improve interpersonal working relationships and enjoy a break together from work responsibilities. This could include anything from a weekly 15-minute virtual coffee break with your team to an end-of-the-week social hour.
Periodically disconnecting from work is essential during work hours as well. By disconnecting, employees have a moment to recharge and finish the day strong.
Lastly, unstructured time further promotes a positive team culture, which is crucial in the overall success of your team.
Promote a recurring routine for finishing the day
Working from home eliminates end-of-the-day rituals like commuting home from the office. It may seem minor, but little things like this help workers decompress after a day of focus.
It’s important for leaders to recognize how the loss of this “turning work off” routine may affect their hybrid and remote teams. Leaders should support and encourage their employees to create a regular routine at the end of the day to distinguish between personal and professional hours. This might include going for a walk, organizing their work area, or even listening to music.
Stop sending 10 p.m. emails
We all have days where we seem to accomplish little, which we set out to complete at the start of the day. It’s normal.
But don’t be that leader who sends a harmless email at 10 p.m. Sending emails after hours creates an expectation for employees to take immediate action. Instead, schedule these emails for the next morning (most emails have a “send later” option). Employees will feel more empowered to turn work off when they don’t feel pressured to check in during personal time.
Discuss life beyond work with your team
As in all of these cases for encouraging a work-life balance with your team, it’s best to lead by example. Share your personal hobbies and interests outside of work with your team, and engage them to discuss what they enjoy doing when not working. This helps create personal connections among team members and underlines the importance of having that healthy balance of the personal and professional.
Promote saying “no”
Employees often avoid saying “no” because they’re concerned they’ll be perceived as having a poor work ethic and possibly result in punitive action. That shouldn’t be the case, especially when shouldering a heavy workload. Encourage your employees to regularly evaluate their workload and discuss candidly with you what they can manage alongside their current responsibilities.
This is a natural extension of helping to manage work-related stress. As a team leader, you should promote and model a healthy lifestyle where possible.
It’s important to remember that all employees have unique situations, especially in a hybrid or remote work environment. So be sure to support a positive work-life balance determined by the needs of each employee. It will benefit the individual employee and your team in return.
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