Promoting Work-Life Balance as a Leader

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The term “work-life balance” has been and still is a hot topic in work settings across the globe. With many different versions of work-life balance based on factors such as culture and upbringing, there isn’t really one true answer as to what the balance should be. One of the most important aspects of work-life balance would be the implementation. Leaders at the top of your organization should be promoting the style of balance that fits your company and serve as the role models for all the employees.

The Perfect Work-Life Ratio

As much as people want to be told there is a singular universal ratio that works for everyone, there isn’t, it’s a case-by-case basis. The definition of work-life balance is the prioritization between personal and professional activities and each section’s influence on the other. Knowing your employees and their wants or needs helps create a balance that works for your company. Depending on the culture at your company, being able to cater to a majority of the workforce is a step in the right direction. For example, if the company culture rewards employees based on hours worked, offerings such as working from home or a flexible schedule would be a bonus, while incentives for overtime would be more than welcome. In an opposite example, if your company culture promotes family values, offering work from home, flexible schedules, and encouraging the use of leaves or paid time off (PTO), would create a better balance for your employees.

Talk to Your Employees

Probably the most overlooked step in creating a balance that works for your company, talking to your employees gives you insight into what they value. For example, through casual conversation, you can figure out that someone loves what they do, but they’re also a single parent who needs to take care of their kids. Holding a company-wide survey will save time when trying to gather information on topics like this, but will remove the personal aspect which is only available if people in HR hold the survey. If the majority of your staff has similar situations and your company culture focuses on the impact as opposed to the output, then you can build around that information. The same goes for businesses where employees are focused on working and climbing the ranks, though this culture would be okay with a more worked focus balance. Always make it a priority to find out what your employees want, as knowing what kind of balance to promote is the key to success.  

Work From Home or Hybrid Setups

Allowing your employees to work from home or a hybrid setup of some office workdays and some at home workdays allows for more personal time. Taking away the travel time from your staff allows them to do things they might not have time for while they were working from the office. Depending on the commute time, people can save anywhere from 30 minutes to hours of their day, added over the course of a year this could add up to several days, sometimes more than the amount of paid time off people normally receive.

Lead by Example

Like all good leaders, you should lead your staff by acting the way you want them to. If your culture favors focusing on work over professional time, then be the boss people say works hard and always gets the job done. Avoid clocking out early unless it’s for emergencies and your staff will follow suit. You will have to tread a fine line, as punishing employees for having emergencies isn’t good for morale or retainment, which is the entire purpose of workplaces promoting work-life balance. On the other side of things, if you’re promoting a personal life-focused working environment, make it clear that leaving for personal emergencies is allowed. Leading by example in this scenario would involve leaving and announcing why you’re leaving, kids need to be attended to, a family member was hospitalized, etc. Just like the previous example, you have to walk a fine line when promoting this type of culture, as people may take advantage of it. Setting clear lines is one way to avoid possible problems with attendance. Worker happiness may go up, but attendance or productivity may go down.

Become Impact-Oriented

Many businesses are output-oriented meaning success is measured by the volume of work finished and isn’t conducive for all types of balance situations. Output-oriented cultures fit work-focused cultures, so places, where overtime is the norm and employees, compete to get promotions. For more family-oriented or flexible cultures, switching to an impact-oriented structure will make a world of difference, both in terms of work results and morale. Becoming impact-oriented means measuring the tasks that get done with the end goal, which makes tasks a means to an end and not the actual end goal. This actually allows for the analysis of tasks, where only the tasks that further the end goal are kept and non-critical tasks can be reassigned or removed. Using goal-setting methodologies such as OKRs will help achieve a flexible style of business and allow for necessary calibrations to be made.

The Wrap Up

As a leader, set the precedent for your team, whether it’s for a more flexible working environment or a more traditional setup, become the example for your staff to follow. Base your ideal work-life balance on company culture, but make sure to also get feedback from your staff. Ultimately, the balance needed between work and personal life is determined by the people that work at your company and the culture that’s put in place. The chances that a step-by-step guide will fix the work-life balance issues at your company are rare, so it’s up to you to find the right balance between the two.

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