How Business Owners Can Support Employee Work-Life Balance

Balancing your professional and private life is a hot topic in business. Whether debating remote work, a 4-day work week, or added benefits for employees, the suggestions keep rolling in. But business owners are in a great position to support employee work-life balance.

As a small business owner, you may lack the resources necessary to provide the same level of support as major companies. And that’s totally fine! You’re working with what you’ve got, and your employees will be thankful for it.

Keeping in mind potential limitations and the well-being of your team, here’s a brief guide on how you can help and support the work-life balance of your employees.  

5 Ways You Can Support Your Employees

One of the benefits of being a small business owner is that your relationship with your team is stronger, and you better understand what may be holding them back. Understanding individual situations and preferences gives you an inside track to help them succeed!

Here are five innovative ways to develop a business culture that fosters and supports work-life balance:

1. Offer Flexible Work Environments

One COVID lesson learned is that working from home is possible for many roles and can add to productivity. Share information and speak openly about flexible work to help instill a positive team mindset that accepts and promotes remote and flexible work options.

Working remotely makes sense for those with challenging personal lives or tasks that don’t require their physical presence. However, don’t limit the choice to only a few select people. Consider each team member and how a remote or flex work option may be a viable choice. Explicitly define roles with on-site requirements, and find a healthy compromise for those that may be able to split time. Some people truly prefer to be in the office! 

From your team’s perspective, knowing your boss trusts your work ethic and planning is empowering, helping you feel valued as a member of the team. By providing flexibility, you are likely to see employees taking more initiative and producing better results. Be sure to set realistic expectations, fair policies, and clearly relay them.

For this to be successful, you’ll need frequent, open, and honest communication. No one should feel that there’s favoritism coming into play among employees, and everyone should be aware of the guidelines set for remote work. Have these conversations beforehand to minimize avoidable issues.

As a leader, you need to understand where your employees are struggling and where you can boost them. Being fair will be challenging, especially when co-workers compare their situations. Be as transparent as possible without compromising anyone’s privacy. 

If you can keep your team connected, regardless of the location they’re working from, you’re doing a great job!

2. Stop Focusing on the Hours

A 40-hour work week may have been the standard before, but it isn’t keeping up with how fast businesses progress.

If you’re pressuring employees to complete their hours with no beneficial tasks, that’s a problem. While the hours worked does need to be considered along with workload and pay, it’s best not to obsess over it. The reason is simple; their workload comes in waves. Bigger projects or unexpected challenges will balance days when an employee is less occupied, such as handling increased client calls during a tech outage or working in a cyclical industry. 

Here’s an example: you’ve had a slow week with minimal work for your team, so you let them off early without adding busy work. Next week, you encounter an issue with a vendor, causing a flurry of work to correct. Knowing you value their time and don’t create unnecessary busy work often motivates employees through the challenging – and more time consuming – weeks.

Most importantly, efficient employees are at risk of burnout. It may look like by completing a task early, they have the energy and capacity for more, However, that’s not always the case! Communicate frequently with team members to understand whether they’ve got more fuel in the tank or they are finishing early in order to take a breather.

Piling on extra work after they’ve completed their tasks can lead to overwhelm, exhaustion, and burnout. It can also make individuals feel taken advantage of, as they perceive the extra work as picking up the slack for others. Additionally, be careful not to incentivize your employees to submit work as late as possible just so they meet their hour’s while avoiding extra work. 

3. Respect Their Time Off

What’s one thing you never want to be known as? That’s right, an overbearing boss. If someone’s on vacation or taking time off, that isn’t an opportunity to get more work out of them.

The same goes for lunch breaks or other breaks they take to recharge. Overworking or micro-managing your team won’t get you the results you’re hoping for. 

You may feel tempted to email your project manager on holiday since they’ll know the best answer to your questions. However, you’ve got trusted and skilled professionals on your team, and you don’t need to disturb the one absent person. Taking time off re-energizes your employees for work when they’re back.

One strategy to apply here is cross-training: have those taking time off brief their team members on how to keep the ball rolling while they’re offline. As a result, the employee on holiday can have space to relax without feeling guilty about disconnecting.

You can encourage your employees to keep the communication going but don’t pressure anyone to respond. By sending email updates, those joining back after a trip can quickly get on track. Recommend they block their calendar on the first day back to catch-up and clear their inbox!

All employees should know they aren’t expected to be available while away. Their only concern should be making the most of their time off to return rejuvenated and motivated to get back to it!

4. Play an Active Role

Don’t forget that you’re in charge of this ship. You must stay on top of your game and keep others motivated to perform. 

A good leader regularly checks in with their managers and supervisors and helps them out where required without micromanaging the team. They motivate the team and lead by example.

If you feel disconnected from your team or don’t know how you would cover their work when they have some well-deserved time off, here are a few measures you can try to re-engage:

  • Create a work culture where you touch base regularly and have an open-door policy for your team to connect with you. Have a regularly scheduled team meeting that is a safe space to discuss complaints, goals, challenges, work coverage, and catch up with everyone.
  • Keep a check on the tiers of management that you’ve created. Ensure that everyone with authoritative roles is fulfilling their duties and respecting the boundaries of other employees. Avoid unnecessary hierarchies and promote positive contributions from each role.
  • Oversee the workload distribution and revise it often. Watch for red flags that identify someone struggling and check in with them. Show that you know how an employee is stepping up, and reward them accordingly.

5. Lead by Your Example

When discussing work-life balance, you’re likely struggling the most. The work week can extend overtime, over the weekend, and even to your vacations. For you, the business never halts.

Model how it’s done to your employees for double the impact – you’ll get the much-needed break you deserve, and your team will trust it’s okay to disconnect and rejuvenate.

Take advantage of the time off and have flexibility in your schedule. Encourage your team to schedule time off or open a conversation about flexible work arrangements. Show them that it’s okay to relax and disconnect.

Finally, always be open to suggestions. The needs of every individual are different, and the positive impact you can have is endless. By showing your employees how important work-life balance is, you’ll get rid of any hesitancy they feel when they ask for support.  

Need More Help?

There’s a lot more on the topic of work-life balance that you can master. Check out our blog for more detailed discussions on building boundaries, their importance, and reaching optimal balance.

What are you struggling with when it comes to work-life balance? Share below!

Hi I'm Nicole

Struggling in your work environment? Need to streamline your processes? Is your work-life balance unbalanced?

We’d love to help you overcome any work challenge you’re facing! Contact us to set up a free consultation to discuss how we can help.

Nicole Hudson Signature

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