For most Canadians, Family Day is just around the corner. It’s a day set aside for the simple reason that we work for quite a stretch between New Year’s Day and Easter without a statutory holiday. The Ontario Ministry of Labour said it best, “Ontarians work very hard and they deserve more time to spend with the people they love”. Well said!
The essence of Family Day inspired me to write about a challenge that I believe all of us face – finding balance in our lives. It certainly seems like an unattainable goal but I do believe employers can play an important role in promoting a healthy work-life balance.
So, what can management do to help their employees find balance in their lives? Here are a few ideas:
Encourage workday recovery breaks
Workday recovery breaks are very necessary for employees; they boost employee productivity and overall well-being. A study led by John Trougakos at the University of Toronto, found that people who take restorative breaks benefit from increased focus and resilience, while those who used the time for chores or work simply miss out. Organizations that don’t provide opportunities for employees to recover from work during the day risk lower employee effectiveness and productivity, leading to burnout, absenteeism, and higher staff turnover, said Trougakos.
Essentially, breaks are set aside for you, so take them!
Employers need to do what they can to encourage their employees to take breaks (crunch time or not). Employees could grab a bite to eat with their family or friends, have a nice peaceful picnic, read a great book, or go exercise at the gym or park – anything but eating lunch at their desk.
Stefan Sagmeister, owner of New York studio Sagmeister & Walsh, even goes so far as to give his employees an entire year off every seven years! When his employees reconvene, their creativity is refreshed and they are able to bang out some pretty awesome work.
Check out his TED Talk here.
Establish a flexible work policy
Trying to effectively balance work and life can be a huge challenge. We often feel like we are being pulled in multiple directions and can experience stress and guilt because of it. Establishing a flexible work policy would helps ease this stress and give employees more control over their lives. The result is a generally happier, more satisfied, and productive workforce.
Employers can offer flexihours or telecommuting options. The benefits of such flexibility are endless. According to hrcouncil.ca, employers can have better staff coverage, more efficient use of facilities and keep valued staff who have other life commitments.
It’s a win-win!
Promote vacation days
Completely shutting off and taking a vacation can be a challenge for some. However, it is necessary to take time off work for your mental, emotional, and physical health. If employees take meaningful vacation time, employers will see a brighter, more accomplished workforce.
Some start-ups are even offering employees an unlimited vacation policy. The idea is you take off as much time as you need as long as you get the job done. Joshua Reeves, co-founder of ZenPayroll feels that a flexible vacation policy helps build ownership mentality and strengthens employee commitment to the company. Other companies reaping the benefits of an unlimited vacation policy include, Netflix, Prezi, and Sailthru.
To learn more about whether or not you should offer unlimited paid time off (PTO), check out this article by FitSmallBusiness.com. It provides you great guidelines and recommendations, all with the objective of improving your work culture.
All in all, there are a ton of ideas out there! I suggest taking the time to listen to and observe your staff. Be creative and find ways to help them find balance. I can promise that you will have a happier workforce because of it!