In today’s highly mobile, constantly connected society, an increasing number of employees are feeling the pressure to be always “on.” Staff are working at all hours, making few distinctions between company time and personal time. Many are overworked to the point where it is harming their health. The constant stress takes a toll on the body and mind. In fact, the situation is so serious that in 2019, the World Health Organization officially listed burnout in its Classification of Diseases. This is a problem both for workers and the companies they serve.
Overworking does not allow a person to operate at peak capacity, nor to make clear-headed decisions. It can cause all kinds of physical, mental and emotional problems, which could contribute to higher turnover and lower morale. So, what can you as a business professional do about it? Whether you are thinking about your own well-being or that of your employees, it is important to take steps to avoid burnout. To that end, here are a handful of ideas to encourage a better work-life balance, from promoting physical activity to rewarding productivity with extra time off.
Appropriate workloads. If a business waits until an employee has a breakdown, it could be too late to do anything about excessive workplace demands. Instead of letting a situation get to that point, it is important to regularly evaluate the workloads on staff. Are the company goals reasonable? Should anything be adjusted? Managers should pay attention to make sure team members are not deluged or overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion. They can also break up projects into more feasible chunks that keep workers from burning out. Keep appropriate workloads in order to relieve your overworked employees.
Flex hours. Giving personnel more control over their time can go a long way toward lifting their spirits — and benefiting output in the long run. A company that allows employees to telecommute or set their own hours shows respect for their staff’s time and talents. As a result, people will often feel an increased sense of loyalty to their employer, which can ultimately increase their happiness and productivity.
Overall health and wellness. Encouraging employees to stay healthy is good for a company and its workers. You need to make your business mental health friendly. The better a person’s body and mind are functioning, the less likely he or she is to get sick and need time off work. Likewise, personnel who are active and fit tend to be more productive in the workplace. Businesses can support corporate wellness by including on-site workout rooms, providing discounted gym memberships and stocking healthy snacks in the kitchen.
Regular breaks. No person is a machine. In order to stay in top shape, it is important for any worker to take routine breaks. This could be as simple as a five-minute walk around the office or as extensive as a few days off. Make sure you have a second phone line or separate business lines with platforms like iPlum. If another person is available to answer a call, people can feel comfortable stepping away for a few minutes. The point is to get some time away from the desk and the accompanying stress.
Paid vacation time. On the subject of time off, paid vacation time is a must. Allowing employees to unplug is a huge boost for morale, and it provides a better work-life balance. When people take time to shut out work and clear their heads, they tend to feel more energized, motivated and creative when they return. Consider the paid time off you will offer your workforce.
Boundaries around personal time. Every healthy employee needs to understand that personal time is worth protecting, especially when you are trying to build a career. This could mean setting specific billable hours or working works after which you are unavailable to colleagues. It could also involve stricter boundaries around weekends or vacations. Whatever the case, having dedicated free time is necessary to protect against burnout.
While a strong work-life balance is a worthy goal for any company, the truth is that it is unlikely to ever feel perfect. In most industries, rhythms of productivity tend to ebb and flow. What is crucial is that the entire organization recognizes, respects and promotes the health of their workforce, understanding that change and growth happen over time. For more information on preventing employee exhaustion and creating a better relationship between work and personal life, take a look at the accompanying resource. In it, you will find warning signs, tips to avoid imbalance and some noteworthy statistics about burnout.