Work-life balance isn’t a new concept, but the topic has been revived while slipping back into our pre-pandemic ways. Despite hard evidence against the harmful effects of working long or stressful hours, it’s still something many professionals can’t grasp. Let’s go over the tips and tricks to get to that holy ground of a healthy balance.
What is work life balance, and why should you get on board as both employer and employee? For starters, you’ll attract millennial workers. You know, the youngsters currently in their prime working years?
Whereas a bean bag and a ping-pong table used to attract the occasional millennial, we suspect even those won’t budge post-pandemic. With Beyoncé’s “You Won’t Break My Soul” as a fresh battle song, skimping out on healthy working conditions is non-negotiable.
And honestly, there is no reason to. Technology makes it more and more achievable to maintain a healthy balance. And we haven’t even mentioned the perks of happy, healthy employees.
According to Dr. Nelson’s “Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy,” firms that appreciate employee value see a return on equity and assets triple as high as those that don’t.
Let’s dive into the definition of a healthy work-life balance, see why it matters and go over tips and tricks to improve your own or your company’s policy on it.
What is work life balance?
Let’s not rush into things and establish a definition first because the exact meaning of work-life balance isn’t set in stone. Ask a boomer and a millennial what it means to them, and you’ll most likely get two vastly different answers.
Work-life balance is not a perfect split, as in fifty percent work, fifty percent personal. It’s a balance between the two in which someone feels most comfortable. And that’s where things get tricky.
A work-life balance can mean something different to everybody, but it’s also fluid over time. What works for you one day may very well not work the next. Single or married, with or without kids, remote or in-office, countless factors are weighing in that contribute to your version of what is a good balance of work and life.
At the core of it, a healthy work-life balance is all about as little stress as possible. Working in a safe environment, under a manageable amount of pressure, and with reasonable responsibilities. Not to mention a normal amount of hours and off-time.
Indicators showing that your balance is off:
- The overall feeling that you can’t keep up.
- You struggle to meet important obligations.
- Small tasks feel like incredible burdens.
- You’ve become cynical or resentful.
- You’re exhausted.
Reasons why a healthy work and life balance is important
According to studies from the American Institute of Stress, 83% of American workers suffer from work-related stress. Of those, 19% say it’s due to balancing work and life.
Obviously, none of these indicators previously mentioned sound appealing. But since it sometimes works better to highlight the positives, let’s shed some light on the positive effects that come with a healthy work-life balance.
Carving out time to improve your company’s policy on work-life balance or your own will come with a number of benefits. Here is why a healthy balance between work and life is important.
Long hours, unhealthy relationships in the team, and poor communication are just a selection of things that contribute to an unstable work-life balance.
Promoting mental health and supporting people with mental health-related issues will help reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. Both impact your economic gains, but we’ll get to that later.
If stress levels get high, it will translate into physical health issues. From exhaustion to muscle tension that could lead to headaches, you can probably see why this isn’t something you want your employees to deal with.
According to the American Institute of Stress, firms spend around 75% of an employee’s annual salary on replacing workers or covering lost productivity. Prioritizing mental and physical health will prevent a workplace from dealing with a lot of absenteeism and a loss of productivity.
Not much of an empath? Then take a look at the cold facts. According to a study by the World Health Organization, every $1 put into scaled-up treatment for common mental disorders returns $4 in improved health and productivity.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand why a healthy person (both mentally and physically) is more productive. An organization is only as strong as its people, after all. A healthy person is often energized, in a good mood, and has a clear focus. Doesn’t that sound like the dream employee?
The morale of your staff is the backbone of your company. Positive morale increases efficiency and high-quality results. But there’s more to it.
Imagine you’re hitting a rough patch. You’ll need to rely on your employees to pull the company through. Or if you need to recruit highly capable people. For example, if there are countless bad reviews on Glassdoor, don’t expect top talent to knock on your door.
How to improve work life balance?
At this point, you might realize this whole work and life balance thing sounds pretty good. Wondering how to improve work life balance? Let’s go over some tips and tools you can utilize to boost balance, whether you’re an employee or an employer.
Work-life balance tips for employees
If you’re currently working for a company but feel like you could use a more healthy balance between work and life, here are some tips.
Take time off
This may sound like kicking in an open door, but taking time off from your daily obligations is crucial to staying happy and healthy. Notice how it says daily obligations rather than work. If you have a bunch of obligations at home, you deserve a break from those, too.
Taking time off can take many shapes or forms. A full week of vacation, half an hour, and everything in between, as long as it’s your time. Think about ways you can destress, by turning off your phone or going into nature, for example.
Prioritize your health
Another obvious but crucial way to boost a healthy balance is by prioritizing your health. A healthy body is much better equipped to deal with stressful situations.
You don’t have to be an athlete on a raw vegan diet; the key is in balance yet again. Finding a happy medium that works for you and is feasible to maintain long-term.
Start by making small changes, like going to bed half an hour earlier or drinking a glass of water when you wake up.
Feel anxious just looking at your calendar? Learning how to say no and setting clear boundaries will have a positive effect on your mental health.
Although a certain level of flexibility is necessary to power through life, it’s okay to not be flexible for a change and stick to what you think or feel you need.
Work your own way
Perhaps you’ve had a glimpse of life working from home during the lockdowns, and liked what you saw. Or maybe you prefer working four slightly longer days to have a fifth day all to yourself.
Sit down with your boss to see if you can mold your job into something that suits you better. Working Monday to Friday from 9 to 5 is an outdated concept, and luckily, more and more people have started to see this.
Work-life balance tips for employers
Are you the person running a company or in charge of the health and happiness of employees for a certain company? Good on you for showing interest in boosting your employees’ work and life balance! Let’s go over tips that will lead to a healthy balance.
By communicating clearly, you manage expectations and keep everyone on the same page. It also helps create a sense of equality throughout the company. Sharing similar information with everyone in the office will show you respect and trust employees.
Additionally, it helps to plan ahead, give employees feedback and let them know what you expect from them. A lack of communication can cause confusion, leading to frustration, and negatively impacting a work environment.
Check-in with your employees regularly to ask how they’re feeling, what they’re struggling with and if you can help, leading to the next point:
Support for a healthy balance between work and life can come in many forms. I once worked for a company where you could pick your own benefits. That way, employees could choose if they wanted more paid days off or get a bonus instead, for example.
Offering flexibility is a great way to show you support your employees individually. You might have an employee that would come into work much happier after a morning workout, delaying his starting time by an hour.
Additionally, you can consider offering professional support services such as coaches and mental health specialists.
Adequate and flexible policies
If you want to improve work and life balance for your employees, now is the time to take a closer look at your policies. Is there anything you can alter to boost a healthy balance?
Here are a few things you could consider:
- Being more flexible about working at the office versus at home.
- More flexibility when it comes to starting and ending times.
- Scheduled check-ins with employees.
- Making a habit out of rewarding and celebrating good results.
- Tighten the rules about working over hours.
- Alter the norms in paid and unpaid time off.
Work smarter, not harder
Last but not least, it’s always a good idea to work smarter, not harder. How? By outsourcing!
Deloitte’s outsourcing survey report shows that companies that outsource reduce their costs and boost their efficiency. If you haven’t considered outsourcing yet, let’s go over a few hypothetical scenarios to show you why it may be the best solution yet.
Your graphic designer has an ever-growing pile of tasks on his desk. He’s doing a two-person job, but you can’t afford to hire another full-time designer. Outsourcing your everyday graphic design needs will leave room for your in-house designer to focus on the more important designs.
Ideally, your communication department focuses on boosting your brand. But sending out incredible newsletters, actively sourcing stakeholders, and creating viral content takes time. Meanwhile, your communication employees are busy with client feedback and requests. Outsourcing your customer support to a dedicated company will save your communications team time to focus on boosting your brand.
Find out how and where to outsource your graphic design needs
Download our guide to find a solution that suits your business
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There are countless other hypothetical scenarios we could go over, but the point is this; if you stick to what you know and work smarter instead of harder, you’ll not only boost your brand, you’ll boost morale as well.
Tools for a better work-life balance
Applying the above tips will have a tremendous impact as is. But add the proper tools, and you’ll really nail work-life balance for yourself and your employees. These tools will set you up for success:
Toggl is an all-rounder that could seriously improve efficiency. It consists of three platforms; one to track your time, one to plan your projects, and one to help you hire smarter.
This bundle of productivity paradise works for both single users and companies. It gives great insight into how time is spent, helps with clear planning, and removes the hassle of hiring new people.
Offtime is a very straightforward app that helps you unplug and leave your phone for what it is. During usage of the app, no notifications will come in unless a number calls you repeatedly.
With Offtime you can easily hold yourself accountable to take a digital detox.
Headspace is an affordable meditation app that works on a subscription basis. If you instantly have bare feet bonfires popping into your head when thinking of meditation, think again. Headspace is as straightforward about meditation as it can be, eliminating all flash and fuss.
The meditations are brief and easy to follow, allowing users to squeeze in a session everywhere, anytime they feel like it.
We couldn’t help but do a little self-promotion. Did that scenario about your graphic designer resonate with you? Or are you a graphic designer yourself who can’t keep up with growing client demands? Opting for a subscription-based service such as ManyPixels is a hassle-free and affordable way of outsourcing your everyday design.
There are three different plans to choose from, each allowing access to an easy-to-use platform through which you can request unlimited graphic design.
Learn how to get started with our unlimited graphic design service
Download the ManyPixels User Guide — you’ll find all the useful information there
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Are you running a service or product-based company? Then we probably don’t have to tell you how happy customers can make or break your brand. Keeping up with customer service is no joke, but with Sprinklr, it becomes much more manageable.
Sprinklr allows you insight into your customer experience. It collects every message coming in, so if you give access to an agent, they can quickly answer inquiries. Additionally, you can see the overall sentiment and engagement statistics to see what needs improvement.
You’re now well aware of the importance of a healthy balance between work and life. It takes time and effort to find something that works for you or your employees, but considering the benefits, it’s worth it.
Hopefully, these tips and tools will help you find balance between work and life!