Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Employees go to work with the intention of doing a good job.
However, life’s challenges can take their toll on even the best employees.
Life happens, and it simply takes a lot to juggle the responsibilities of home, family, and a job. And quite frankly, some people are better at keeping the balls in the air than others.
Business leaders today have a better understanding of the importance of work-life balance to maintain a healthy workforce and recognize the role their leaders have in helping employees juggle it all.
We have all been there. So much is going on in our life that we get overwhelmed.
In those moments in my life, I was grateful for a mentor who could help me see the big picture and learn to prioritize the competing demands on me and my time.
These leadership relationships have helped me in many ways by simply sharing their secrets to balancing it all.
6 Things Managers Can Do to Encourage Work-Life Balance
1. Set the Example
The first thing leadership can do to help employees is demonstrate how they find balance in their lives.
When employees see their manager come in at the crack of dawn and stay long after all other employees have gone home, they feel obligated to do the same.
Leadership needs to set an example for balancing work and life and can do so by working reasonable hours, having interests outside of the organization, and demonstrating personal priorities that are different from work responsibilities.
For instance, a VP I worked with unapologetically left work early to be able to watch her son play a high school sport. She was one of the most productive people I knew, but she also kept her family as a key priority.
2. Establishing Boundaries
One of the keys to balancing work and family is to set boundaries.
Employees must feel they have permission to set boundaries and communicate personal limitations for job expectations.
Every employee should step up to the plate during those busy seasons at work but should not feel guilty for trying to maintain interests outside of work.
Leaders who have personal boundaries teach employees that boundaries are important and that they value life outside of work.
For instance, a manager should take an interest in an employee’s hobbies and encourage them to pursue them passionately!
3. Promote Hobbies
Hobbies are an important part of life and support work-life balance.
Whether that hobby is reading a book, bike riding, gardening, golfing, or just shopping – everyone should have interests outside their work responsibilities.
This is important for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that hobbies help employees to “think” about something other than their job.
When employees are so engrossed in their job that they think of nothing else, they can become jaded and resentful that their job has taken away any personal time they have.
Over time, this can create one of two things;
- Someone who identifies with their job and has become dependent on their identity with their job or;
- The employee begins to resent their employer for not allowing them more time for personal interests.
This resentment can fester over time and manifest into negativity as the employee approaches burnout.
The second reason is that hobbies can often help to reduce stress and give pleasure to us. Hobbies should be part of a balanced life, embraced, and encouraged.
4. Demonstrate the Right Priorities
Leadership needs to teach the right priorities. Managers who have the right priorities demonstrate the importance to their staff.
This can be demonstrated by merely talking about their outside interests and taking time for themselves.
When a manager does not take a vacation or days off, they demonstrate that time off is not important.
However, managers who take time for personal interests show the importance of balancing work and home life.
This approach gives employees permission to establish their own priorities.
5. Committed to Balance
Managers should model a balanced work/home life and be committed to ensuring their employees do the same.
This can be challenging when things get hectic at work, but it is important to maintain this commitment.
6. Offer Work-Life Balance Benefits
Many organizations are offering benefits to support a healthy work-life balance.
Benefits such as telecommuting, onsite daycare, gym memberships, life coaching, or budgeting education can help employees balance home and work.
Practical things leadership can do to help employees:
Talk about it. Talk to employees about the importance of taking time off and pursuing outside interests. Find out what employees enjoy doing and let them talk about their interests.
Be Encouraging. Encourage employees to plan their vacations in advance and pursue hobbies that interest them.
Schedule Vacations. Leadership should schedule and plan their own vacations and time off in advance.
Talk About Interests. Talk to employees about their personal interests and encourage outside interests.
Share Personal Stories. Managers should share stories about their personal interests and how having outside interests has helped them manage work and family obligations. For instance, I worked with a manager who enjoyed gardening. She would share stories and pictures of her prize landscaping projects.
Highlight Employee Interests. Organizations should do special interest stories on employees’ outside interests. For example, if an employee has won competitive tennis tournaments, talk about it.
It Is Our Responsibility
Employees follow great leaders.
As leaders, we are responsible for setting a work-life balance example for employees.
We must give employees permission to pursue outside interests; if not for them, we must do it for the organization. Because we all know that a healthy, happy employee is productive.
If we are in this for the long haul, we must know how to pace ourselves and teach those we lead to do the same.