Workplace Wellness

8 Tips to Help Employees Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Written by Kate

What does achieving and maintaining work-life balance mean in today’s hyper-connected world? For many of us, the tech revolution is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s now possible to work from anywhere in the world – even from the beach – as long as you have an uninterrupted internet connection. On the other hand, the lines between work and personal life are now fuzzier than ever. 

With rapid digitalization, some work cultures have evolved in a way that makes it difficult to distinguish when the work day begins and ends. Emails at midnight, weekend conference calls, and the expectation of constant availability have become the norm. This constant creep of work into personal lives isn’t just a minor inconvenience: It can cause stress, burnout, and lower workplace morale.

Below, we’ll take a look at some strategies for a better work-life balance, but first, let’s clarify what work-life balance is/isn’t.

What is Work-Life Balance?

As one business leader notes on Forbes, there’s no universally accepted definition of “work-life balance.” The term just makes intuitive sense when you reach that tipping point where your personal and professional lives seem to blur into one. When the work side of the scale seems heavier, and your dreams take a back seat. When you feel like you’re drowning in work and becoming more unfulfilled by the day. 

The opposite of that feeling is what the HRZone defines as the ideal work-life balance. As they put it, this is the “level of prioritization between personal and professional activities in an individual’s life and the level to which activities related to their job are present in the home.” 

Characteristics of good work-life balance include: 

  • Having enough time and energy for both your professional/career goals and personal/family life 
  • Feeling satisfied and present in both work and non-work roles 
  • Achieving a sustainable integration of your multiple life roles and responsibilities 
  • Making conscious choices to pursue the things most important to you across all life domains
  • Ensuring that neither work nor personal life compromises physical, mental, or emotional health

What work-life balance isn’t:

  • A perfect 50/50 split of time between work and personal life 
  • The same solution for everyone – it’s a personal practice
  • Doing everything at once or being superhuman. This just causes stress
  • Necessarily having less career ambition or success
  • A static state that never needs readjusting as life changes

Simply put, achieving the perfect work-life balance is about being intentional to have a quality of life you feel good about rather than a rigid formula. 

It is important to note that leaders cannot give employees work-life balance. As we’ve mentioned, every employee has to figure out what the ideal situation looks like for them. 

That said, employers and business leaders do play a significant role in this decision. Traditionally, business success has been measured by long hours and a relentless work ethic. While this has changed over the past few years, it is natural for some employees to want to prove their dedication if it means they’ll get ahead. 

So, what role do employers play in an employee’s journey toward the perfect balance?

workplace flexibility

8 Tips to Help Employees Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

1. Encourage Healthy Boundary Setting

In a healthy workplace, employees do not need to be available 24/7. Similarly, not everything is urgent and important. Given that leaders set the tone for the workplace culture, it’s your job as the business leader to establish acceptable boundaries.

  • Respect employees’ off-hours by avoiding late-night/weekend emails and meetings when possible.
  • Establish norms around response time expectations for communications.
  • Provide guidance on setting up-front boundaries if a particular project may require very high intensity.

2. Prioritize Recovery

Even engaged workaholics who love and are invigorated by their work need some downtime to recharge. “The goal for modern machines and software is to minimize downtime,” American entrepreneur and burnout survivor Arianna Huffington said in a recent TED Audio Collective interview. “To companies, the ideal goal is 100% uptime, but most settle for 99.9%. That’s fantastic for software and machinery, but the human operating system differs. Downtime for the human operating system is not a bug; it’s a feature.” 

As a leader: 

  • Promote taking full lunch breaks away from the desk 
  • Advocate for using vacation time and not celebrating burnout 
  • Consider offering well-being programs like meditation/yoga classes

3. Leverage Workplace Flexibility

With remote and hybrid work becoming the new normal, more employees are seeking employers who’re willing to trust them with their workloads. This way, they can work where, when, and how they like as long as they finish their job. 

What a business leader can do:

  • Allow for flexible schedules and remote work options when feasible
  • Have managers lead by example in taking advantage of these flexibility benefits
  • Provide the technological support and training to enable flexibility

4. Model Work-Life Integration

Managers who spend their lives in the office aren’t the best role models for a workplace that wants to enhance the employees’ work-life balance. If anything, this communicates there’s no room for downtime. By contrast, leaders who leave work on time and communicate within stipulated work hours unless its an emergency are more likely to inspire the same habits in workers. 

Pro tip: In addition to work wins, celebrate life milestones like education, parenthood, etc…

5. Facilitate Open Dialogue

According to CNN, poor management is a major source of stress for many employees who want to strike the perfect balance between work and personal life. Granted, there are times when a leader cannot do much to provide relief for employees without sacrificing the business. However, that’s not always the case. For example, you can: 

  • Create safe spaces for employees to voice concerns over unsustainable workloads
  • Have managers provide empathetic listening and partnership in crafting solutions
  • Evolve policies and cultural norms based on this critical feedback

6. Supporting Family Needs

A recent survey of prime-age women (25-54) not in the workforce indicates that caregiving responsibilities are still a major stressor. 50% of respondents cited caregiving as the main reason they’re not in the workforce. 

Ways to support these needs:

  • Providing generous paid parental leave for births and adoptions 
  • Providing equal paid leave opportunities for all new parents
  • Offering phased return-to-work options after leave
  • Creating private mother’s rooms for nursing
  • Providing job protection and same/equivalent role after leave
  • Offering childcare assistance or onsite daycare facilities 
  • Allowing flexibility for employees to attend children’s events 
  • Having a pet-friendly office
supporting family needs

7. Promoting Holistic Employee Health

True well-being encompasses everything from financial to mental to emotional health. Achieving that can be tough for employees on their own, but employers can offer options that ensure workers don’t have to choose between work and their personal lives. Here’s how: 

  • Implementing wellness programs with fitness classes, health screenings, etc.
  • Subsidizing gym memberships or onsite exercise facilities
  • Holding walking meetings or providing standing desks
  • Ensuring appropriate health insurance coverage

8. Creating Space for Fun/Creativity

Enjoying leisure time, even at work, can boost employees’ mood, improve productivity, and help them refocus. Consider hosting social events, outings, or team-building activities that create room for fun. Additionally, dedicate spaces for games, recreation, and other creative pursuits. 

Employees, especially millennials and GenZers, are also looking for more meaningful work. Consider allowing paid time off for volunteering, skills development, and passion projects. Also, encourage job crafting and redesigning roles to be more motivating.

Prioritizing a Healthy Work-Life Balance in Today’s Workplace

To recap, achieving true work-life balance is an ongoing journey involving conscious choices and trade-offs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s all about continuous realignment based on evolving priorities and life seasons.

However, one thing is clear—companies that genuinely invest in their employees’ holistic well-being will gain a powerful competitive advantage. When people feel cared for as whole humans, not just workers, their engagement, creativity, and dedication to the organization skyrocket.Wondering where to start this cultural revolution? Feel free to schedule a call with one of our experts today. Let us help you create a productive, healthy, and happier workplace!

Corporate Wellness Benefit Managers having a discussion while looking at an electronic tablet.

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