Healthy work/life balance is often talked about in the media, and far too often discussed in terms of negative consequence for employers. This doesn’t have to be the case and, in fact, little actions taken on your part to ensure that work/life balance can have visible positive impacts. Employees appreciate it when they feel like their management care. And you can secure that good will with small gestures that have minimal impact on your work, but maximum impact on your employee’s enthusiasm and appreciation.
Every work force is different, but a few simple rules can include:
• No after-hours emails. Tell your employees you want them to enjoy their off time, so they aren’t to be replying to emails after hours. If their job means they may be required to answer emails at all hours, make sure they are aware of this before signing on. Assuming you have the right to make them work whenever you wish builds resentment and being constantly ‘on the go’ can lead to serious mental health issues for your employee.
• In the same line, no non-emergency after hour messages. If there is a non-urgent issue or problem, wait until your employee gets to work to notify them. By ensuring that messaging or emailing your employees occurs only during work hours, you enable your employees to relax, recharge and be bright and ready for work the next day.
• Do not begrudge the sick day. Let your employees know that you understand they are only human and if they are sick, they’re sick (as long as they are following company policies such as sick certificates). Tell them you hope they get better soon and move on. A sick day could be a ‘wellbeing day’ or ‘mental health day’ too, as sometimes time to reset and come back to work relaxed and more productive is as vital as resting up from the flu.
• Be flexible, especially for those that work hard. Life outside of work can sometimes get in the way. Be understanding if your employee has a family emergency, or even asks to swap shifts. If they are following the rules for taking time off, switching, or if they offer to make up time in the case of non-emergency situations (like leaving early one day to see their child’s performance), if it is at all possible, work with them to achieve their request. This often means that on the occasions when you have to say no, they are a lot more understanding. If a request simple isn’t possible, always explain the reasons behind the rejection so they understand that you have not rejected them out of hand.
• Be consistent. No favouritism. This is one suggestion that can be challenging for everyone. We instinctively want to look after those we like the most, but as management you must remain fair. This means consistent rules for everyone, the same leniencies and strictures.
• Offer the Time in Lieu. Over time happens. Often enough, this is just a fact of work life. Sometimes something goes wrong, or urgent orders come in, and everyone suddenly finds that they are working well over their usual hours. It is important during these times that you offer your employees the chance to take Time In Lieu for their lost hours. Not everyone will take this opportunity, but it is important that you are seen acknowledging that your workers have gone above and beyond. (And as an extra tip, make sure that members of management are also seen to be putting in the time. Nothing adds to employee stress like working over time whilst those in management leave the same time as always).
Most of these suggestions are simple rules that can be easily incorporated into your workplace. Make sure to let your employees know when you implement them, or when they are first employed, so they are aware of how much their company appreciates them and is working towards ensuring everyone has a great work/life balance.