In an age of smartphones, laptops and social media, it isn’t always easy for your employees to switch off from work. But if you’re hoping to keep your team healthy, happy and productive, it’s really important for them to have some regular downtime, away from the stresses and strains of the office.
As an employer, there’s plenty you can do to support your team’s work life balance. Whether it’s encouraging them to take a well-earned break or reminding them to get home in time for supper, a few small adjustments can go a long way to improving their health and wellbeing.
1. Encourage sensible working hours
Although it’s very easy to praise individuals for working long hours and burning the midnight oil, it can sometimes do more harm than good. Rather than giving your employees a pat on the back, you might want to ask if they are taking on too much work or getting enough support – as they may be feeling under pressure.
Also, be sure to practice what you preach. If your employees see you staying back late or sending work emails in the evening, they may feel obliged to do the same.
2. Pass on the right messages
If you truly believe in the benefits of work life balance, it’s important to communicate this effectively – especially your managers. Your employees need to know that it’s OK to rest, recuperate and recharge their batteries – as long as they come back refreshed and ready for work.
Remember, work life balance isn’t just about your attitude towards holidays and regular breaks – it’s about being flexible around timings, having support structures in place and not overloading people with too much work. The right training on how to manage tasks, meetings and workloads can also help.
3. Demonstrate your commitment
While it’s always nice for your team to hear that you care about their welfare, actions speak louder than words. So, as well as saying the right things, you might want to go a step further and make it compulsory for them to take a lunch hour and regular breaks away from their desk.
It’s also worth reviewing your policy on flexible working. Allowing employees to manage their hours around home and family commitments is a great way to take the pressure off… and you’ll probably find it makes them much more productive.
4. Work smarter not harder
Although it makes sense to give the more mundane jobs to the junior members of your team, completing repetitive tasks for long periods of time can often result in diminishing returns. Working in pairs is one way to keep people motivated, as is limiting these tasks to a set number of hours each day.
When employees are required to work in isolation, regular breaks can also make a difference. And rather than assuming everything is going according to plan, make sure you have regular updates to check on progress. This will allow you to nip any problems in the bud, before they get out of hand.
5. Get to know your team
If you really value your employees, it’s worth taking the time to understand their interests, both inside and outside of work. Besides being a good way to strengthen relationships, it might give you an easy opportunity to boost morale – such as introducing a ‘cycle to work’ scheme for any keen cyclists or a weekly five-a-side team for any budding Ronaldos.
The more you get to know your employees, the easier it is to play to their strengths, which is a big advantage when it comes to prioritising jobs and managing workloads. It also helps when you are planning your teams – because like-minded personalities often work better together.
This article has been written in collaboration with Bupa, one of Elect’s insurance providers. It is for information only and is not specific advice. It is based on our current understanding of the attributed research which may change in the future.