Let’s take a moment and do some simple math. The average employee is employed to work 40 hours a week from Monday to Friday. While that may seem like a simple 9am-5pm workweek, most employers have their people come in at 8:00am in order to accommodate for lunch breaks. According to the American Census Bureau, the average work commute is 26 minutes, and let’s give the average person 40 minutes to get ready for work in the morning. If you add all those things together: 40 mins for getting ready + 26 minute commute + 540 minute workday (including lunch) + 26 minute commute home = 632 minutes or 10.5 hours a day that the average person spends in or around work. If you get the doctor recommended eight hours of sleep a night, that leaves six out of the twenty-four hours in a work day that you have to spend with your family, friends, and loved ones. Most people spend over 60% of their lives in their place of work. That is an intense realization to have.
This week, we want to focus on practical ways you can encourage your people to have a healthy work/life balance. It is important that your employees feel like they have a full and fulfilling life outside of the workplace. Why? Because a feeling of fulfillment outside of work with family, friends, and extracurricular activities will actually help your people to feel more engaged and active when they’re at work. Encourage your people to take care of themselves completely by making good work/life balance practices a part of your office culture. Here’s how:
- Let Your People Use Their Sick Days, No Questions Asked. It can be easy in an office, especially in highly collaborative environments, that sick days are for people who do not want to work as hard as everyone else. As a business owner, it is important to train your managers to have high EQ and empathy for your staff. Meaning, if someone needs a sick day, they need a sick day. Certainly if the number of sick days begins to impede work performance, you need to have a conversation with the employee about what’s going on. But, letting people have an occasional day off is a great way to show them that you care about their physical and mental wellness.
- Sponsor Work Events That Involve Significant Others and Family Members. There is a distinct division between work life and personal life. But there is also the reality that most people spend as much time or more with their work family as they may with their actual family. By holding events, lunches, and parties every once in a while that encourage your people to bring their significant others or family members, you encourage new connections between people in the office. This also signals to your staff that their family and life outside of work is important to your company. You show support for their life outside of the office.
- Encourage People to Switch Off During Vacation. Vacation is a difficult thing, especially for leadership and managers inside your company. There are certain people that are gone for two days and it feels like the department might crumble without them. As difficult as it may be, when your people leave for vacation, make sure they know that they are on vacation. You do not expect them to answer emails, or phone calls, or text messages. You want them to enjoy their time away and come back refreshed.
- Let Your People Telecommute. Is the weather bad? Does someone’s child feel ill? Letting your people work from home is a great way to encourage balance between work and life. It is also a way to let them keep working and not decrease productivity while letting them have the flexibility to work from home. Consider implementing a policy where people can work from home two days a month, or one day a week in order to encourage them to be productive in all areas of their lives.
- Communicate with Your People. Over and over again, research shows that good managers have high emotional intelligence and empathy for their staff. Make sure that all levels of your staff feel like they have ‘open-door access’ to their direct reports and managers. This way they can go to the people above them and express feelings of tiredness and burn-out before they become too stressed to work anymore.
No matter how you decide to handle issues of work/life balance, make sure you take them seriously. Your people are the most important part of your business. Make sure they feel like they can operate outside of it without consequence.