The importance of work-life balance for employees & businesses
According to employee surveys in the US (1) and UK (2), work-life balance is so crucial that many prioritize it over a pay raise. Many future-oriented companies have taken this into consideration and introduced flexible hours and remote work arrangements to give staff more control over their day-to-day.
But doing so has also raised new challenges. Remote and hybrid work can make establishing and maintaining healthy work-life boundaries difficult. And it’s not always easy for managers and staff to check in with their colleagues when they don’t see them in the office every day.
None of these modern obstacles to work-life balance are insurmountable, though. It’s worthwhile for both employees and leadership to address them and work on solutions collaboratively. So, let’s dig deep into the importance of work-life balance and understand how beneficial it is for individuals and organizations alike.
1. FlexJobs, 2022
2. Randstad, 2021
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Why is a work-life balance important?
A healthy work-life balance is essential because it allows employees to prioritize what matters to them, both inside and outside the workplace. And the majority of professionals care about it almost as much as compensation:
- In a survey of over 1000 workers, 90% said work-life balance influenced their happiness more than an easy commute or a path for promotion.
- In our State of People Enablement Report, we discovered that a lack of balance is a major reason people leave their jobs, with 74% of employees citing it among the top issues informing their decision to switch to another company.
- We also found that 66% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that prioritizes work-life balance, while only 48% stay for compensation-related reasons.
But with the rise of remote and hybrid jobs, work-life balance is also about cohesion between the professional and private facets of people’s lives. To accomplish this and make work more fulfilling for your people, it’s crucial to engage team members by celebrating successes and anniversaries, prioritizing effective communication between managers and direct reports, and helping employees progress in their careers.
“What causes stress in [an employee’s] mental health might not just be work. It might be their relationship with their family, it might be community problems, it might even be financial problems. So, there are all these pillars: social, personal, and professional, which affect them. Any stress they exhibit at work might not be due to work. That’s why work-life balance is so important, someone might need to prioritize their family, for example, and work doesn’t allow them to, and vice versa.”
— VJ Posadas, Head of Business Development at Naluri
How work-life balance improves retention
Having a clear boundary between work and life commitments is important, and encouraging these boundaries has been shown to have a significant positive impact on retaining employees. Let’s look at some of the positive effects of work-life balance on keeping your best people working at your company longer term.
When human resources teams monitor engagement metrics like the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) and check if there’s an increase after implementing new retention strategies, they often find that supporting work-life balance positively impacts engagement. Some digital tools — like Leapsome‘s Surveys module — not only provide digestible eNPS survey analytics but also suggest actions to take on your results.
When you design a work environment that encourages people to rest, take time for themselves, and avoid overwork, they’ll have more energy and mental space to bring to their professional and personal lives. A platform like Leapsome can help you do that. Our Goals module lets team leads and their reports collaborate on realistic, sustainable objectives. Plus, managers have visibility over team members’ progress, so they can always adjust their goals if they become overburdened.
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A more comfortable professional environment
Work-life balance isn’t just about finding ways to make work less demanding. It’s also about creating more opportunities to energize and appreciate team members so they don’t need to use their leisure time to recharge from the stresses of work.
That’s where feedback and praise come in. Leapsome’s Instant Feedback module helps you build a culture of appreciation with specific shoutouts based on employee strengths and goals, making work a more comfortable and uplifting place for team members to spend their days. You can make your praise public to encourage others to share their colleagues’ accomplishments.
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Improved communication & teamwork
It’s essential for companies striving to foster better work-life balance for their people to prioritize communication. Why? Setting clear boundaries between work and free time requires collaboration and teamwork. For example, team members need to feel comfortable setting limits with their colleagues regarding their working hours. And they should feel confident handing over their workload when they go on vacation or take a personal day.
A cohesive team reduces stress and fosters respectful interpersonal relationships, making it easier for employees to avoid burnout and feel satisfied with their professional life. Companies can facilitate this with tools like Leapsome and the Meetings module, which lets all participants collaborate on agenda points before getting together. What’s more, teammates can comment on agenda items and take shareable notes in real time to ensure nothing gets missed and projects get done on time.
Benefits of healthy work-life balance for employees
In addition to better collaboration, higher engagement, and an improved work environment, team members enjoy many positive outcomes when you prioritize their well-being.
Lower stress levels & instances of burnout
Workplace stress happens when companies don’t facilitate alignment between job requirements and an employee’s needs, skills, and capacities. Prolonged stress can lead to lower mental health levels and burnout, which is so detrimental to individuals that the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies it as an official medical diagnosis.
While reducing burnout is far from the only goal of work-life balance, it’s essential if you want to hold on to your best people. But how? Gallup research suggests avoiding burnout has more to do with managerial support and transparency over lessening a team member’s workload. With that in mind, organizations should:
- Collaborate with employees to identify and develop their strengths through performance reviews, career progression frameworks, and objectives and key results (OKRs).
- Automate more work. Leapsome integrates with Slack and Microsoft Teams, so you don’t have to toggle back and forth between apps to stay on top of internal communications. Our platform can also connect with Jira to help you track and resolve issues blocking you from meeting your OKRs.
- Make work-life balance part of development conversations. Ask team members about their long-term goals and professional aspirations to help them work on more projects that benefit their development.
- Help managers build their coaching skills. Train team leads to provide meaningful feedback and praise on a consistent basis. That way, their reports will feel more invested in their work and have a better sense of what to do to improve.
Increased creativity & innovation
It’s challenging to tap into your creative side when you’re overworked. However, cutting back on employee tasks and providing extra time off may not be the only answer to this problem. Achieving work-life balance means disregarding the risk of ‘mistakes’ and making more space for innovation and experimentation.
People-centric organizations should encourage staff to take more initiative in trying new things. A few ways managers can facilitate this include:
- Setting up regular meetings with direct reports. 1:1 meetings are a perfect opportunity to brainstorm new approaches to problems and bottlenecks.
- Encouraging peer-to-peer collaboration. People need time with their colleagues to discuss how they can optimize processes, develop professionally, and enrich interpersonal relationships.
- Rewarding ingenuity. Shout out team members when they step out of their comfort zone and tackle something new, like taking the lead on a project for the first time.
- Investigate the current state of employee wellbeing through employee wellness surveys.
More time for family, friends & personal interests
Empathetic managers praise their direct reports for setting boundaries around their time and personal priorities. They encourage them to do things like book sick days off when they need them (no questions asked), be there for ill loved ones, go on an extended vacation, and take ample parental leave. A sign of healthy work-life balance is when people don’t feel guilty about handing over their work to others and are comfortable with disconnecting and putting professional responsibilities aside when necessary.
However, today’s employees also want to define what balance looks like for themselves. For many, it means being able to design their work schedules around their individual needs and lifestyles — not the other way around. It’s possible to make this happen for your people by:
- Offering flexible schedules. This means team members can take the time to join a fitness class, pick up their child, or enjoy leisurely meals as long as they fulfill their everyday responsibilities.
- Providing a variety of childcare options. Some companies offer childcare subsidies, dependent care accounts, or backup babysitting options like on-call nannies or access to well-vetted daycare centers.
- Instituting personal project time. Allotting a few hours each month for team members to pursue creative hobbies or projects helps bring more balance and pleasure to their work experience.
Make employee enablement & balance a priority
To foster sustainable work-life balance within your organization, you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. People ops professionals and leaders need to be in continuous conversation and collaboration with staff about improving the employee experience.
Leapsome has the features you need to enable more cooperation and balance within your company:
- Our Surveys module enables you to discover what work-life balance means to your people and get qualitative feedback with open-ended questions.
- The Goals module lets managers and direct reports collaborate on realistic, achievable objectives they can monitor and adjust as needed.
- Our Instant Feedback module allows you to offer constructive input in private and praise in public — allowing everyone to celebrate team wins.
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