Admit it. You sometimes think about work on your personal time. And you probably think about your personal life while you’re at work. Social media, text, and email ensure our work and personal lives intermingle. Having 24/7 access to work (or, really, anything we want!) means our lives are not always our own. Lack of work-life balance can cost you—and your employees—peace of mind, healthy relationships, and healthy minds and bodies.
The work-life balance wake-up call
If you don’t think work-related stress and lack of work-life balance matter to your business (or you believe they’re just personal problems employees will work out on their own), here’s a wake-up call: 83% of U.S. workers report work-related stress, while 25% of those say work is their biggest life stressor. The impact on your business can be staggering, as 25% of employees report leaving a job in the last two years because of stress, while two in five say they’ve considered quitting because of stress.
It’s also becoming clear that more work time doesn’t mean increased productivity. According to a Stanford University study, “Employees at work for a long time may experience fatigue or stress that not only reduces…productivity but also increases the probability of errors, accidents, and sickness that impose costs on the employer.”
When things get off kilter, stress can increase—and that’s not a good thing. Stress can cause serious health issues and lead to problems such as anxiety and lack of sleep. At its worst, it can trigger heart attacks and strokes. However, there is hope, and it starts with balance. If your organization can help employees to harmonize work and life, they can live happier, healthier lives.
Let’s put it plain: work-life balance and stress reduction matter to employees and businesses—and to your bottom line.
Tips for better work-life balance
There are strategies that can help bring things back to center and give employees the breathing space they need in their personal lives and at the workplace. Check out the tips below and find the perfect Goldilocks zone between work responsibilities and home life.
Better work-life balance in the workplace
The following tips can help you (and your employees) improve your work-life balance in the workplace. Practice these tips yourself and share them with coworkers or direct reports. You might be surprised to see productivity increase.
1. Get comfortable with “no.”
You may not have to do every task someone asks you to do at work. Just like you don’t need to accept every invitation that comes your way or do every favor someone asks of you in your personal life. At work, learn to delegate tasks or share concerns about projects that may be weighing you down or are not fulfilling. Guilt isn’t a good reason to take on more work and responsibility, so pay attention for ways you can cut down and scale back.
2. Leave work at work (if you can).
In the age of work-from-home and portable devices, it’s easy to give in to the urge to check in with work around the clock. But a shift in mindset can help. When you arrive at work (or at your home office), dedicate yourself to working a set shift or number of hours. When that time ends, challenge yourself to shift your focus to TV, exercise, or some other personal activity you enjoy. If you must check in with work away from your designated hours, keep it focused to the task at hand and remove yourself once the task is complete.
3. Prioritize and focus.
Which work assignments are most critical? Which can wait? Don’t leave important projects for the last minute. Prioritize projects and keep an updated schedule of tasks and deadlines. If you are asked to do additional tasks that will throw you off track, consider if you can say no or delegate them so you can stay focused.
4. Talk about it.
Struggling to meet a deadline? Looking for a flex- or extra work-from-home day? Talk to your manager. You may just be surprised at the solutions they can offer to help you get into a better headspace and to be more productive. Be honest about your situation and stay open to guidance. A lot of people are feeling stressed right now, and sometimes a good conversation can work wonders.
5. Take a break.
Stop. Breathe. These two words can work magic in your workday. It’s easy to get involved in projects and meetings and forget to have some me-time during the day. If you need to, step away from a stressful situation, reclaim your headspace, then get back to work. If you get stuck on a project or have a tough client or call, detach. Go for a five-minute walk. Remember your breath and the sunny skies. Then return to work with a new mindset.
Better work-life balance at home
Getting into a better headspace in the office (or home office) isn’t the only way to improve your work-life balance. It’s important to focus on your off-hours as well.
1. Schedule “nothing” in.
If we bring a work mentality home, we may be in a mindset of moving and doing all the time. If you’re having a hard time remembering to relax in your personal time, keep a calendar on your refrigerator (or in your phone) and schedule that “nothing” time right in. Whether it’s an hour completely unplugged from social media or time sipping tea and staring out the window, make the time to take the time.
2. Care for your body.
It’s not uncommon to come to the end of the workday exhausted and hungry, and do what’s easy. It could be fast food for dinner and channel surfing all night. That’s fine once in a while, but not all the time. Consider prepping healthy meals on days off or before work so they’re waiting for you after work. Get a pair of walking shoes and use them through the week to explore a local park or your neighborhood. Work can make you tired, but don’t let it consume you to the point where you can’t recharge. Get nourished. Get physical. Stay healthy.
3. Be mindful.
Mindfulness is about being present and aware in life so that we’re less reactive to the world and less overwhelmed. In fact, research shows it can help decrease anxiety and increase wellbeing and concentration. You don’t need to go to a cave or yoga class to practice it. Being more mindful can be as simple as bringing your attention fully to pulling weeds in the backyard or drinking a cup of coffee with full awareness of the smell, taste, and sensation of heat. Training your brain to be mindful and in the moment at home could translate to a calmer workday and less stress. Try it.
4. Find your people.
If you are having a tough time managing stress or anxiety away from work, keep a list of friends and family you can reach out to for help. Consider joining an online support group or finding a local gathering of people who share your interests. Community can be a powerful way to stay connected, grounded, and more at peace.
5. Use company resources.
Here’s one time when bringing work home may be the best thing you’ve ever done. Does your organization have discounts for gym memberships or other perks such as discounted travel or admission to attractions? Are there counseling resources available for employees who are struggling with mental health issues? Ask around and see if there are benefits that can help you enjoy life outside the office and to pursue some fun and relaxation.
Ready to help employees with better work-life balance training?
Training employees to find better balance between work life and home life may increase employee happiness and productivity. Also, employees may be suffering from mental and physical health issues in addition to increased stress, so providing training in this area may help them to recognize these issues, seek help, and prioritize self-care.
Providing employees with resources for stress reduction shows them you care about their wellbeing and that your organization places a high priority on wellness. There are plenty of free and easy resources you can tell employees about, such as mindfulness and meditation apps and websites with wellness tips and tools. But have you considered the power of training?
Courses on topics relevant to employee wellness—when part of a robust training program—can help employees take charge of their mental and physical health in powerful ways. Here are some examples:
- Preventing and reducing stress
- Burnout awareness and prevention
- First aid or active shooter trainings to reduce stress around crises
- General mental health training on anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and other important topics
Let’s design your work-life balance training
Employees who keep their home and work lives in good balance can translate to a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce. If you want a training partner to help bring that vision to life at your organization, EdgePoint Learning is here. We can help you discover what employees really need (and want!) to know with a comprehensive training needs analysis that can help you design training specific to your company, employees, and culture.
Contact EdgePoint today. Together, we can help your company be the exception to negative stress statistics and an example of what’s possible with better work-life balance.