Management · October 14, 2021

The Importance of Work-Life Balance: 3 Ways Employers Can Support Their Teams

For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic blurred the line between their professional and personal lives—and as a result, the importance of work-life balance became undeniably clear. While working from home, many people guided their children through remote learning, cared for family members and generally managed a household. If that's not challenging enough, concerns about public health and intermittent lockdowns robbed many of the opportunity to socialize or unwind at community gatherings.

In this situation, work-life balance suffers. That creates significant stress for your employees, who may then distribute unbalanced efforts to your business' stakeholders, staff and clients. In fact, a March 2021 survey found that 52% of employees are now experiencing burnout, compared to 43% before the pandemic.

That said, the responsibility to solve or alleviate this issue shouldn't fall solely on employees. Employers can also play a crucial role, and it's in their best interests, as it directly impacts employee retention and productivity, particularly at a time when the competition for talent has grown increasingly fierce.

As a small-business owner, here are some things you can do to help your employees get their personal and professional lives in balance.

1Switch up the traditional 9 to 5

In the current environment, employees need more flexibility than ever before. Depending on the nature of your business, you can give them this flexibility by moving away from the traditional Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm schedule and implementing some variation. For example, you could institute a four-day workweek just ahead of major holidays or during slow periods. This will add several more three-day weekends throughout the year.

Another approach is to give employees, particularly those with childcare duties, the opportunity to work a different eight-hour stretch. Consider allowing them to work from 10 to 6, 11 to 7, or perhaps even split between 8 to 12 and 2 to 6.

Talk to your employees or send out a survey to gather information about the kind of flexibility they want and how you might balance their needs with those of your business. Chances are you'll find some middle ground that works well for everyone.

2Encourage breaks

For most of the pandemic, most people felt like they were on a hamster wheel, and with the shift to work from home, many employees began working even longer hours, not fewer.

You can ease some of this stress by adding self-care, health and wellness, or mental health holidays to the company calendar. This way, employees can get a day off each quarter or every couple of months to unwind or recharge.

You also could do mini-versions of these holidays and create a couple of designated health and wellness hours each week, when no meetings are scheduled. Employees can use that time to meditate, go to the gym or take a walk—whatever they need to achieve a better work-life balance.

While you can't guarantee employees will do these things, by framing their time off in this way, you can encourage them to find a moment for themselves in the midst of what can feel like non-stop work and personal obligations. Even just letting them know you've considered these concerns can make a difference.

3Revisit employee benefits

Many big employers offer benefits such as health insurance or paid leave, but as a small or mid-sized business, you may not be able to cover these costs at the same level.

Think about other ways you can provide support or resources to encourage better mental health and well-being for your employees. Many of your competitors are. In fact, in Fidelity's 12th annual Employer Sponsored Health & Well-being survey, 92% of respondents said they expanded support for programs that dealt with stress management, sleep improvement, resilience and mental health support.

If your company already offers health insurance, talk with your benefits provider about what it would cost to expand your benefits to provide these services to employees. If it's too costly, consider finding a couple of local mental health providers or representatives from mental health organizations to host a webinar or seminar for employees on better stress management. You also could sponsor virtual fitness or meditation classes or even pay for the first month of membership for a gym near your office if your team works a hybrid schedule.

Understanding the importance of work-life balance

The pandemic has been a challenging time for so many people, but it's also shown just how resilient we can be. As an employer, your focus may be on running a successful business, but it's good to step back and recognize that a huge part of that is having healthy, motivated, and productive employees. Resetting priorities within your company and shifting how you work, particularly the longer the pandemic endures, may be the key to keeping a good thing going with fewer disruptions for your business.


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