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18 Must Know Work Life Balance Tips for Employees

Employee Wellbeing
June 1, 2022
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Life gets busy. Between work, family, friends, self-care, and other responsibilities, establishing a work-life balance is something most people strive for - after all, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Both employers and employees can take action to improve work-life balance. We’ll share how with these work life balance tips for employees. 

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In this article, we will also answer “what is work-life balance and why is it important?,” review the risks of having no work-life balance, and see how organisations can support employees at work and in their personal lives.

What is Work Life Balance?       

Work life balance sounds clear to most, but for everyone, it can mean something different. From a broad perspective, work life balance is the ability to make time and have energy for both professional and personal responsibilities without feeling overwhelmed and retaining a level of resilience which allows you to continue to live your life to your fullest.. 

Rather than focusing on the time spent at work versus the time spent at home or outside of work, it’s about finding the right tradeoff between the two such that you feel fulfilled and present with whatever you’re doing. 

When work life balance is compromised,  we can all start to feell ‘bogged down’, disengaged, tired and frustrated. As such, work life balance is tied to other concepts like time management, burnout prevention, and stress management. 

Ultimately, being able to sustain a work life balance will come down to an individual’s mental fitness, how they manage their time, and the support systems they have around them to be able to juggle responsibilities and relaxation effectively.

What are the Benefits of Work Life Balance?       

For employees and employers, finding work life balance results in many benefits all around. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages:

1. Better Health 

When people are overworked and exhausted, both the body and mind suffer. Too much stress has negative effects on physical health and can even be the cause of substance abuse. 

If work life balance is leaning too much to the work side (a.k.a. being overworked), employees increase their on-the-job injury rates, may gain weight, feel physical pain in joints and muscles, and experience different forms of mental distress.  They are also more likely to experience feelings of burnout, stress, anxiety, and even poor sleep from their lack of connection and ability to be present.

2. Higher Productivity Levels

While it may seem counterintuitive, if employees spend too much time at work, they actually are more likely to lower their productivity rates. Research from Stanford has shown that employees who spend more than 50 hours on the job per week will result in declining returns. 

The fact is that people get tired and lose focus after a certain amount of time spent on a task. With energy and focus, people can fulfill tasks and responsibilities efficiently. However, over time, employees can often end up spending more time for the same amount of output.

3. Ability to be Present 

When people feel balanced, they are more able to be mindful and present with whatever they are doing. Whether it be hanging out with their kids, talking to a friend, or finishing up a job responsibility, the act of being mindful and present has a direct impact on one’s output and feelings. 

With work life balance, people worry less about home when they’re at work and less about work when they are at home, allowing for full attention in the moment.

4. Retention and Engagement 

Mental and physical exhaustion can lead to burnout. Job burnout has three main symptoms, namely lack of motivation, lack of belief in one’s ability to do the job, and lack of pleasure in doing a job. 

Without having work life balance, employees run the risk of burnout, which can lead to employee turnover or employee absenteeism.

5. Increased Happiness

Dr. Andy Cope, author of The Art of Being Brilliant, dedicates his career to happiness and the factors which can impact overall happiness and life satisfaction. He explains how happiness plays a key role in the human experience and people’s ability to thrive. 

By investing in work life balance practices and role modeling it for yourself and your colleagues, you are able to increase your happiness levels. As Dr. Cope mentioned in one of his blogs, “Happy employees are your competitive advantage!”

Did you know that there are specific actions your employees can take that are proven to boost their happiness, which in turns boosts their productivity by up to 31%? 

Find out more here.

What are the Causes of Poor Work Life Balance?   

Having a poor work life balance may be the result of several factors, including:

1. Stress 

A person’s psychosocial work environment plays a crucial role in their overall wellbeing. If an employee is overworked or their skills don’t align with the job’s asks, stress levels are bound to increase. The inability to properly manage and reduce stress leads to poor mental and physical health conditions.

2. Unfair Management Practices

When work responsibilities bleed into one’s personal life due to a lack of boundaries or out-of-touch managers, work life balance is hard to achieve. Many employees report that their failure to achieve work life balance is due to a manager’s unfair expectations, lack of boundaries, and inability to manage workloads.

3. Lack of Support 

An employee’s work life balance must be fostered by both the organisation and employee. From an organisational perspective, it’s necessary to provide proper support, training, and overall care for employees’ mental wellbeing. 

Employees who feel adequately supported will show up more engaged and empowered to express their needs. Organisations can provide this type of support by implementing an employee wellbeing platform. 

Employee wellbeing platforms offer expert-crafted mood check-ins, resources to train and develop one’s mental fitness, and educational journeys to learn work life balance strategies.

What are the Ways to Better Support Employees at Work?       

From a business’ vantage point, you have probably come here looking for work life balance tips for employees. This way, you can develop a company culture that values work life balance and enacts it within its policies and procedures. 

Take a look at these work life balance examples and approaches. 

1. Provide Flexible or Remote Working

Flexible and remote working opportunities allow employees to work in their own space and sometimes even at their own pace. They get to earn back time that would otherwise be spent commuting and allocate it towards personal duties and responsibilities. 

2. Focus on Productivity Not Hours

Instead of focusing on the amount of hours that an employee spends at work or working, shift the focus on productivity and output. This could align incentives so that employees are most productive during their work hours instead of just being there to pass the time. 

3. Encourage Breaks

Ensure that employees take breaks and step away from their duties to recharge. Employees who feel overburdened by workloads may try to skip a break to allocate that time to working instead. But, it’s necessary to take breaks. You can encourage breaks by catering meals or having your teams step out for lunch. 

4. Review Workloads

Managers should regularly review workloads and check-in with their team members to make sure that workloads are reasonable. Communicate to employees that they should feel comfortable to request revised deadlines if need be.

5. Lead by Example

Management and executives should lead by example. This means that they need to take breaks, avoid sending emails or contacting employees outside of work hours, and demonstrate self-care. The world of work relies on role models to give “permission” and pave the way for others.

6. Rethink Time Off

Time off could be used for team building and volunteering exercises that are proven to reduce stress and unite people towards a common purpose. These hours or days outside of work mode can help to build camaraderie and provide a mental respite from workloads. 

7. Support Mental Wellbeing

It is vital to support your employees’ mental wellbeing. The ability to manage one’s time efficiently, show up and be present, and overcome challenges can all be attributed to mental wellbeing and mental fitness. 

As an employer, you can promote mental wellbeing by offering resources like an employee wellbeing platform, which is equipped with strategies and techniques to strengthen mental fitness and mental wellbeing. 

An employee wellbeing platform guides employees to complete self check-ins to become more aware of their mental wellbeing and take proactive steps to develop it so employees can meet their highest potential. The platform also offers guided educational journeys that address subconscious thoughts and feelings to improve mental fitness over time.

8. Ask for Feedback

Listen to your employees as everyone has different needs. You can conduct employee engagement surveys, pulse surveys, or utilise data and insights gleaned from an employee wellbeing platform to accomplish this. For more on how to measure employee engagement, check out this guide

9. Provide Perks

Offering perks shows that you have a vested interest in an employees’ wellbeing and overall self-care endeavors. Perks can include yoga classes, gym memberships, catered lunches, flexible work environments, or where budgets don’t stretch, even encouraging walking meetings, to name a few. 

10. Acknowledge Employees Differently

As we’ve mentioned, work life balance can mean something different for every employee. That’s why it’s important to get to know employees on an individual level (or at least a team level) to provide support in the way they’d hope to receive it. This is part of being a mindful leader.

How Employees Can Improve Their Work Life Balance?   

Since it takes two to tango, now let’s see how employees can play a role in achieving their own work life balance with these work life balance tips for employees.

1. Say "No"

Employees often feel the need to say yes to everything when it comes to a professional setting because they are scared to say no. 

Saying no comes down to being honest with yourself about how much you can take on and manage. If something feels like too much, express it to your supervisor and consider offering an alternative solution.

2. Take Breaks & Vacations

Burnout stems from being overworked without taking breaks or vacation. TIme off is needed to recharge, so prioritise doing so because a career is a marathon, not a sprint. 

3. Ask for Flexible or Remote Work

Check in with your supervisor if a remote work schedule would be possible. You can approach the conversation with a plan in hand to share how you’d communicate, working hours, and how this would benefit you both. 

4. Prioritise Health

Make your own mental and physical health your priority. Start by building healthy habits, such as daily exercise, regular breaks, social connection, using your paid time off, expressing your feelings, etc. 

If your company offers an employee wellbeing platform, be sure to leverage it as much as you can. This investment in yourself and your own mental health will end up paying dividends interminably as you’ll grow and develop. 

This way, you’ll be able to better overcome challenges and build resilience within both your professional and personal life. 

5. Set Boundaries

When you are not at work, unplug completely. When you are at work, remain focused. The idea of creating boundaries starts with your own actions and involves communicating boundaries so you can establish your work life balance. 

6. Make Time for Yourself and Family

Consider blocking out time in your schedule for your family and for your own self-care.

7. Ask for Help

People who are high achievers typically struggle to ask for help. Recognise that asking for help isn’t a weakness. In fact, it’s a skill and strength that should be utilised so that you don’t end up hurting yourself. 

8. Focus on Quality Time

Rather than thinking about how much time you spend at work or outside of work, focus on being present in whatever you are doing to make the time worthwhile. Make time to do the things that bring you joy, share moments with family and friends, and spend time unplugged.

How to Be A Supportive Manager

As a manager, there are some things within your control that you can do to promote a better work life balance for your team members. 

Take a look at these best practices:

  • Conduct regular check-ins to get a sense of how your employees are feeling
  • Ask each team member about what they may need on an individual level 
  • Build relationships and establish boundaries with your employees
  • Promote teamwork and collaboration 
  • If your company has deployed an employee wellbeing solution, then share the benefits of using it with your team!
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By Antonio Gabola from Unsplash

Closing Thoughts

By practising these work life balance tips for employees, employees will be on their way to feeling more engaged, fulfilled, and motivated in all aspects of life. Achieving work life balance requires that employees communicate their needs and that employers respect and understand what those needs are. 

Paramount to achieving work life balance is having the capacity to tune into one’s own mental wellbeing and practice healthy habits. Employee wellbeing platforms guide employees and employers with techniques, tools, and resources to promote healthy actions in regard to one’s psychological, sociological, biological, and spiritual wellbeing.

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