How to Encourage a Work-Life Balance in Your Organisation
In the last year or two, many of us have been faced with learning how to manage our work-life balance. We were thrown into working from home, and I don’t know about you, but I ended up working very random and often longer hours, as work was easily accessible from my ‘tiny box’ home office.
Over the months, I’ve become better at managing this and now consider myself a segmentor, not to be confused with a dementor Harry Potter fans! However, it’s been a rocky road and for many of you reading this blog, your organisation may still be in the midst of determining whether or not you will return to the office full-time, remain at home or if the future is hybrid.
With all this impending uncertainty in our work-lives, now more than ever having a good work life-balance is critical. When we have more stability in one area of our lives, we are more resilient in coping with uncertainty in another area of our lives and dividing work and home life can be a good way of building that resilience. In this blog, I share why creating a good work-life balance is important for your teams, share some of the latest research and science on work-life balance and discuss why you should be encouraging a better balance in your organization due to the wealth of benefits for everyone involved.
What is a segmentor and integrator?
Before we go into the importance of work-life balance, what exactly is a segmentor or integrator I hear you say...and how can you identify them?
First let’s chat segmentors!
These individuals create a rigid boundary between their personal and work lives. They shut their laptops at close of business and don’t return to the daily grind until opening time the next day. They may have a physical ritual to detach themselves from work to home… prior to COVID this may have been a commute home or getting changed into their comfy clothes when they get back home. But when working from home, they tend to get a little more creative.
As a segmentor myself, I go for a walk in the morning just before I start work, as a placebo commute! I also move into another room on my lunch to physically detach myself from my laptop, so it’s out of sight and out of mind.
By contrast, an integrator is someone who’s work and home life is a blur. It has no start and no end… there is no clear line drawn between the two, and they thrive when working any and all hours to get the job done. These individuals may take comfort in their work routine and enjoy working so much that they view it as a part of their home lives, or I guess, part of their lives as they do not separate the two. Think of a business owner for example, they often run a business based on a hobby that they enjoy, and so business success is part of their lives and the challenges are often their ‘kicks in life’.
Now, in this blog I am not here to tell you that we should all be segmentors...because if we were all the same that would be boring. However, unsurprisingly much of your workforce will have a preference to segment and a small minority to integrate. And as you will see from research, segmentors are generally happier at work and naturally have a better work-life balance. Where problems may begin to arise is when preferenced segmentors feel the need to behave as integrators for prolonged periods of time.
Why should I be conscious of integrators?
For some people, being an integrator is how they thrive… they live to work and being able to work anytime of the day in fact aids their mental wellbeing. But for some, they may be a segmentor disguised as an integrator. They want that next promotion and want to show you that they are committed to the job, and think that if they are visible, and on hand at all times, they will be more valuable to the company. This is where work-life balance for false integrators begins to breakdown.
For others, maybe they struggle to manage their time effectively and are constantly playing catch up with themselves to get the job done, or maybe they are afraid to say no, and the list of jobs keeps piling up.
For tips on ‘time management’ and ‘saying no’ check out these two videos and feel free to share them with employees who they might benefit:-
How to Say 'No' at Work (3 Way to Say No) -
3 Top Tips for Managing Your Time -
A recent piece of research featured in Harvard Business Review found that 30% of men and 50% of women surveyed consciously resist working longer hours and described achieving a work-life balance as a continuous cycle and not something you can simply achieve.
Their research showed that overworked employees are bad for both the individuals and the organisations, and that those who are able to resist unhealthy work habits such as working overtime, achieve a healthier balance between their work and home lives, resulting in a better sense of wellbeing.
If we can encourage our people to segment their work and home lives, then we will increase happiness and wellbeing across our organisations which we know has been shown time and time again to:
- LOWER stress levels
- REDUCE the number of sick days
- DECREASE employee turnover
- RAISE productivity
- GROW employee job satisfaction
- INCREASE employee loyalty, commitment and motivation, the list goes on…
So, I hear you ask…how can I encourage a work-life balance in my organisation?
- Set clear expectations for remote and flexible working:-
Employees value employers who empower them to manage their own time. They feel valued when they know they can finish early to get the boiler fixed or go to a doctors appointment. But, expectations are more valuable. Sometimes having too much autonomy without expectations creates anxiety and can result in employees working longer hours than they need to, as a show of gratitude. So make sure that if you decide to move to a hybrid working model or remain remote, that you send out clear comms around what is expected of your employees and exactly what flex they have in their roles. ‘Re-onboarding’ your employees is a super effective way to get this right.
Check out our blog: Re-onboarding – the essential first steps
- Encourage breaks:-
Encouraging your employees to take breaks, take a walk or even work in an entirely different place to home is a great way to help them manage their mental health and wellbeing, and shows that you are considerate of their work-life balance. If your organisation will be continuing to work remotely, try creating break-out rooms at set times of the day to encourage people to take a 5-10 minute break to connect with other parts of the organisation and their colleagues.
- Regularly review workloads:- Managers who talk to their teams regularly will know who is busy and stressed, and who has capacity. So this is a really simple tip to avoid employees working overtime to get tasks completed. Encouraging managers to review workloads with their teams and offer help and support with time management, is a great way to show employees that you care about their work-life balance. It also offers opportunities for employees to raise any concerns and for managers to check in on their team’s wellbeing. Regularly review workloads:- Managers who talk to their teams regularly will know who is busy and stressed, and who has capacity. So this is a really simple tip to avoid employees working overtime to get tasks completed. Encouraging managers to review workloads with their teams and offer help and support with time management, is a great way to show employees that you care about their work-life balance. It also offers opportunities for employees to raise any concerns and for managers to check in on their team’s wellbeing.
- Lead by example:- One of the easiest things you can do to encourage a work-life balance in your organisation is to ‘walk the walk’ and ensure that you and your teams enjoy a healthy work-life balance too. Make sure you’re leaving the office on time, taking breaks and not emailing workers out of office hours or expecting them to deliver work in unworkable time scales when it isn’t urgent.
- Reconsider time off:- Could your organisation afford to give your employees more time off? Or could you be more flexible about giving unpaid leave? To prevent burnout encourage your employees to take their time off within the holiday year by not allowing holiday to be carried over to the next year. Alternatively, you could consider offering a scheme to buy more holiday. And as I mentioned above, lead by example and make sure you encourage your managers to take time off too.
Encouraging a better work-life balance can be executed through some really simple changes in your organisation, but you can also help your employees through training and development. Check out our virtual workshops Time Management For Remote Workers, Resilience and My Wellbeing as they are a great place to start.
I hope you found this blog useful and if you take one thing away, I hope it’s got you thinking about the benefits of encouraging a work-life balance for individual at your organisation.