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Supporting Employees: Work-Life Balance

Creating a company culture that promotes work-life balance is a great way to support both in-person and remote workers. What is Work-Life Balance? The phrase “work-life balance” can be deceiving because it implies that there is a perfect balance of work and life that suits everyone. This is not the case; work-life balance is not a one-size fits all concept. As you approach work-life balance within your organization, recognize that different people have different ideas of what balance looks like. Per Ioana Lupu, these ideas and feelings will change as life progresses. To achieve work-life balance is to reach a point where both work and life sectors are rewarding, without sacrificing one for the other. This balance will likely look different from one employee to another. Some team members may thrive while working long hours early in the week so that they can take long weekends to spend time camping and traveling. Others may enjoy a more traditional 9-5 schedule during the week that provides them the consistency they need for childcare pick-up and drop-off times. Offering the option of flexibility, where possible, opens the door to creating a culture that fosters work-life balance. Why is Work-Life Balance Important? Work-life balance is vital; without it, we can easily become fatigued, burnt out, and even resentful of our jobs, eventually leading to turnover and can seriously effect employee engagement. The Covid-19 pandemic has only amplified employees' and consumers' attention to company culture. For example, consumers have become more familiar with how companies treat their workers. Nearly 70% of younger consumers are willing to boycott a company that does not treat its employees fairly and equitably. Maintaining a culture that promotes healthy work-life balance can provide measurable advantages for business, including: Happier Employees Employees with autonomy over their work days and schedules are likely to report higher levels of job satisfaction and are less likely to search for a new job. Overwork leads to unhappy employees, and finding ways to combat this by giving employees the autonomy to stop working is a major contributor to employee happiness. Reduced Turnover

Happier employees will be less likely to search for a new job. MIT conducted a large-scale project finding, “A toxic corporate culture… is 10.4 times more powerful than compensation in predicting a company’s attrition rate compared with its industry.” Improved Engagement Employees who have happier lives outside of work are more likely to be more engaged when they are working. A Gallup Workplace poll found that “the manager or team leader alone accounts for 70% of the variance in team engagement.” Having a caring manager who allows employees the opportunity to do what they do best every day can boost employee attraction, engagement, and retention. Decreased Call-Outs Due to Stress According to the AIS, numerous studies show that job stress is the major source of stress in American adults and has been escalating continuously over the past few decades. It was found that about one million Americans will miss work daily because of stress. Many employees cite poor workplace balance and overwhelming workloads as the major cause of their stress. How can HR Teams Promote a Culture of Good Work-Life Balance? Knowing the importance of work-life balance is important, but actually implementing policies that create a culture that is inclusive of this balance is where People teams can make real change. Wellness initiatives and additional holiday costs can add up quickly. You will be surprised at the low-cost options to promote a healthier, happier workforce: Ensure buy-in from leadership. No policy is effective without buy-in from leadership. Companies can talk the talk of work-life balance as much as they want but will not see results or follow through without full support from leadership. Ensure that leaders practice healthy work-life balance and do so transparently. Ways for leadership to be transparent with their work-life balance practices include

  • Turning communication platforms, such as Slack, off at the end of the day

  • Not responding to emails outside of business hours and using tools such as “Schedule Send” when working outside of business hours

  • Publicly taking vacations and days off

  • Go offline when working outside of business hours

  • Creating an #OutOfOffice channel for employees to share fun stories and photos from weekends and vacations.

Manager Training Along with ensuring buy-in from leadership, HR teams must establish clear guidelines for managers to use when communicating with their teams. Managers should be incentivized to care for the well-being of their teams. Managers who promote unsuitable work patterns and pressure teams into a “one size fits all” work schedule should be penalized. Managers can benefit from training that demonstrates how to set goals that are challenging and how to spot signs of stress and burnout. Manager-employee one-on-one meetings can effectively keep tabs on an employee’s mental health. One-on-one meetings can provide opportunities for coaching and reassessing employee workloads. Checking in on how an employee is doing with their current workload before adding a new project can help avoid burnout. An employee thriving with their current workload may seem like the perfect candidate for a new large-scale project, but creating too heavy of a workload can be detrimental to productivity and mental well-being by causing high-performing employees to feel spread thin and unable to do so their best work on every project. Managers should be trained in how to protect their employees’ time. When multiple managers and sources assign projects, it is easy to lose track of how heavy an employee’s workload really is. Checking in with team members and empowering them to say no to projects or working together to create timelines where only a certain amount of projects are being worked on at a time can significantly reduce feelings of being spread thin. Communicate and document clear work-life policies. Employees need clear communication on work-life expectations, especially in times of significant culture shift. Without clear policies, employees are likely to fall back on old habits because they are comfortable, even if old habits lead to increased work stress! Addressing work-life balance in the employee handbook, and ensuring policies are followed by leadership, is a direct way to revamp company culture. Areas to focus on include:

  • Flexible working policies

  • Communication policies

  • Meeting Policies

  • Holiday and PTO policies

Creating a culture inclusive of work-life balance is crucial to business success by improving employee happiness, reducing burnout, improving engagement and productivity, and increasing consumer buy-in. Supporting employee well-being during work and non-work hours can help lead to a happier, healthier, and more loyal workforce. By showing that they care for the well-being of their employees, companies not only improve retention of existing employees but also open themselves up to the top tier of the talent pool. Athlone Consulting is uniquely qualified to create action plans tailored to your business needs to promote employee well-being. Reach out now to start a conversation and request a quote. Donald Sull, Charles Sull. “Toxic Culture Is Driving the Great Resignation.” MIT Sloan Management Review, 11 Jan. 2022, Gallup, Inc. “How to Improve Employee Engagement in the Workplace.”, Gallup, 14 Nov. 2022, “Lupu Ioana - ESSEC - CV.” Essec, “Why Work-Life Balance Is Important (and How HR Teams Can Improve It).” Lattice, 10 Dec. 2022, “Workplace Stress.” The American Institute of Stress, 15 Feb. 2023,

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