Why should you care if your employees have a healthy work-life balance? Because a healthy work-life balance among employees can benefit your small business – in more ways than one. Research has shown that shown that employees who feel they have a healthy work-life balance are more productive, more satisfied in their jobs (which increases retention) and healthier (which lowers medical costs and absenteeism). There’s another benefit, too: Companies that provide a healthy work-life balance are also more attractive to job seekers, making it easier to attract and recruit excellent employees.
Here are seven ways you can help your employees achieve a better work-life balance – and be happier, healthier (and more productive) employees as a result.
- Set the example. Employees model their behavior after their leaders. If you’re not setting the example by creating a healthy work-life balance for yourself, they won’t, either. This means leaving the office at a reasonable hour, taking lunch breaks and actually using your vacation time (see No. 4 below).
- Say no to after-hours email. Thanks to smart phones and tablets, we can work from anywhere at any time, making it hard to truly “disconnect” from work – even when we’re not there. Research shows that checking work email at night, however, can actually harm productivity, due to a phenomenon called “telepressure.” Unless there are extenuating circumstances that require you to check in to work at 10 p.m., make a vow to turn your phone off after 6 p.m. – and encourage employees to do the same.
- Be open to flexible scheduling. Work with employees to set schedules that better fit their lifestyles without disrupting the business. This may mean letting them come in earlier and leave earlier, or taking Friday afternoons off in exchange for working longer hours on other days.
- Offer a work-from-home option. If at all possible, let your employees work remotely once a week or a few times a month, which can save them time commuting, which frees up more time to take care of personal errands.
- Encourage employees to use their vacation time. Employees may feel reluctant to take vacation for fear they will appear as if they are slacking off (particularly at a small business, where their absence is more noticeable). But not only is taking time off every once in a while good for employees, it’s good for the business. Employees are likely to come back refreshed and with renewed energy to dive into their work. (In fact, you might even consider going one step further to offer unlimited vacation time.)
- Be a friend to pets. Approximately 20 percent of U.S. companies let employees bring their pets to work. Having a pet-friendly office not only eases the burden of looking for a pet-sitter during the day, but it can also lower stress, improve morale and spur creativity – among other benefits of allowing pets at work.
- Be vocal. Communicate the importance of work-life balance to your employees. Make sure they know that their time is valuable and that you are committed to helping them achieve a healthy balance. Check in with them on a regular basis to make sure they are satisfied with their work-life balance, and work with them to make any adjustments if they aren’t.