BlogManaging Your Team’s Work-Life Balance

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Published: March 15, 2022

Ah, the fabled work-life balance. It’s a tricky one to get right for yourself, let alone for your team; each person will have different requirements, making it feel nigh on impossible to keep everyone happy.

Person texting and using laptop at the same time

It’s important to try though, and not just so that you’re voted ‘Best Boss of the Year’ for the 12th time running. In fact, studies have consistently shown that employees with a strong work-life balance are more motivated and productive than their overworked counterparts so it’s well worth making sure that your employees have enough time for themselves.

First things first; it’s important to note that work-life balance doesn’t mean spending exactly the same amount of time on each. Instead, you need to focus on getting the mental balance right, helping your employees to feel fulfilled in both spaces. For some employees that may mean working slowly over long hours to avoid feeling stressed for time. For others it might involve working condensed hours, getting everything done in a focused burst of energy. Either way, it’s important to focus on their output rather than the number of hours they’ve clocked; if an employee is hitting targets in a shorter period of time and your business is thriving but they’ll struggle to focus over a longer period then neither of you will benefit from them being tied to regular hours.

Overworking

Employees over-clocking but underperforming can be an issue, especially with the increase in home working. While allowing your team can be a real benefit, helping employees to further balance work and home, it can also result in your team feeling that they need to be constantly ‘on’, even if they’re not productive working that way. Employees end up working longer hours, checking their notifications in the evening and during their breaks just because their laptop is to hand. Sure, it sounds great; you’ve suddenly got an around-the-clock team! Unfortunately, that feeling’s unlikely to last. As employees fail to switch off they’ll get more tired. And then they’ll start making mistakes. And suddenly, instead of having a team who work regular hours and hit targets you’ve got employees who work long hours but still can’t keep up. Instead, it’s important to make sure that your team know when they are and aren’t expected to be working, and that they’re expected to stick to that. If they’re still struggling then introducing time clocking can be a good idea; being able to see just how many hours they’re actually working can provide employees with a needed reality check, as well as giving you the necessary data to step in when they’re over or under working.

Sharing workload

A good way to start building the right ethos is to encourage your team to flag how busy or quiet they are at any given time, without fear of reprimand. It’s all too easy for employees to get in the habit of overstating how busy they are, for fear that not having a high enough workload will be taken to mean that they’re slacking, or will result in them being given additional work, preventing them from keeping up when their regular work picks up again. Instead, start checking in with your team regularly and let them know that there’s no wrong answer. That allows you to take the load off of busy employees and share it out to those who are quieter, and to return the favour if those quiet employees get too busy in turn.

Communication

If you’re struggling to work out what adjustments would make the biggest difference to your team’s work-life balance then it’s worth putting the question to them. Sure, you might get a few impractical responses but you might be surprised by some of the input. Gathering everyone’s feedback, ideally anonymously, will allow you to see if there are any recurring themes, as well as giving you an indication of whether you’re on the right track. After all, there’s nothing worse than putting the effort in, only to find that what you’ve implemented isn’t actually helpful. And if all the suggestions are completely impractical? Then you can carry on and do whatever you’d originally planned to, safe in the knowledge that no one else has any better ideas either.

Setting an example

One final point; you and your management team are going to need to set an example. It’s no use telling your team that you value their home-life balance and that you don’t want to see them working outside of their set hours, only to break the rules yourself. Sure, you’ve said all the right things but actions speak louder than words and your employees are likely to begin to wonder whether you actually mean it. Maybe you’re just saying it. Maybe you’re just looking to see who’s really dedicated. Soon enough, employees will start overworking again, trying to impress you and burning themselves out in the process. If you really want them to stick at it then your managers are going to have to, too. Sure, there are always going to be urgent tasks that really can’t wait, but answering non-urgent emails at 21:00 on a Friday is a big no-no. And if you really can’t help yourself? At least set yourself to show as offline while working and don’t hit send on emails until first thing Monday so that your team don’t know.

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