Stress and burnout have become an increasing phenomenon worldwide over the last decade. According to a YouGov survey, 51% of full-time UK employees said they have experienced anxiety or burnout in their current job. In France, 53% of employees and 68% of managers find their job too stressful.
The situation seems contradictory with the fact that happy employees are more productive than unhappy ones. If someone’s health is his or her own responsibility, employers have an important part to play in their employees’ well-being. Here are 7 policies you can implement to help your team members achieve work-life balance:
1. Implementing a flexible work schedule policy
Every employee works differently, some intrinsically tend to concentrate better in the morning, others are more productive at night. Setting up a fixed work schedule forces team members to adapt their natural cycle to the company, creating stress in their own body up to a feeling of imprisonment.
Parents may need to leave early from work in order to fetch their kids from daycare or school. Other collaborators may want to go play squash during their lunch break or attend a yoga session after work. Whatever their reason, favoring a flexible work schedule will help your employees better respect their own needs. As a result, they will feel more relaxed at work, increasing their focus and productivity.
2. Offering partial or full remote working to your employees
Going every day to the office makes employees spend time telecommuting. Depending on where they live, the number of hours wasted can sum up absurdly at the end of the year. And the stress generated by the hours spent behind the wheel stuck in traffic is highly unproductive too. Likewise, some employees may decide to go and work in a big city in order to get a job, while dreaming to live on the opposite side of the country, or even abroad.
An increasing number of employees favor flexibility at work – especially millennials. Letting your employees decide where they want to work greatly participates in helping them find their own balance.
3. Favoring lunch and coffee breaks
Some managers and hard workers still consider breaks as time wasted on their work day. On the contrary! Our brain works like a muscle: it needs training, but also resting and key nutrients, including oxygen and water. You can’t just make it operate at full capacity for hours without taking a break. At some point, your productivity and creativity will inevitably decrease, losing the benefits of the few minutes you “saved” earlier.
According to Courtney Seiter from Buffer, breaks:
- keep us from getting bored, thus increase our focus
- help us retain information and make connections – which automatically increases our creativity
- give us the opportunity to reevaluate our goals and reorder our priorities of the day/week/year
You can choose your own way to take a break: going for lunch with your colleagues, exercising, going some meditation, taking a quick nap after lunch, reading a book… The key is to listen to your body and look after yourself.
4. Setting up a culture of efficiency rather than workload
Would you rather see your employees work long hours but wasting time throughout the day, or be focused, and leave early from the office? One can hardly be efficient for 10 or 12 hours in a row. Plus we all have different capabilities.
Incentivizing your team members to producing great results rather than working long hours will motivate them to get the job done and use their free time as they wish. It’s a win-win!
5. Freeing up your holiday policy
Offering paid time off is crucial to let your employees rest, take their mind off work, recharge their batteries. This essential break gives a true breath that lulls them into a state of serenity before jumping back in their daily lives.
Offering a generous vacation policy is one of the many ways you can show your employees gratitude. And if you want to go a step further, you can follow ZenPayroll example and opt for an unlimited vacation policy. The huge plus? “It helps build an ownership mentality” according to Joshua Reeves, their CEO and co-founder.
Be careful though, when offered unlimited vacations, some employees may end up taking fewer days off. At Basecamp, to counter this perverse effect, employees are offered a financial package to go on holidays.
6. Helping new parents
Can you believe that in the 21st century, offering paternity leave is still not obvious for a majority of companies? The capitalist model tends to forget that a good part of the world’s equilibrium is based on free “work”: having kids and raising them. Take it away and the whole economy collapses, more surely than if a war breaks out.
New parents bear this incredible responsibility in addition to their work. And everything that their company can implement to ease their job will make their lives a little bit smoother: offering flexible schedules, extending paternity leave, creating a daycare center for the company or booking some spots in an exterior structure… Your employees will definitely feel grateful.
7. Encouraging sports activities and meditation
One of the risks of working long hours is to prevent yourself from getting enough exercise. Indeed, activities can make you happier, give you more energy and help you gain focus. By offering flexible working hours, dedicating a room for working out, sponsoring a gym membership, or creating a small bathroom to take a shower after a run at lunchtime, you can encourage your employees to take the time to exercise, for the sake of their mental and physical health.
Likewise, meditation has proven highly beneficial to relax your brain and lower stress. If your office has an empty room, you can consider turning it into a meditation room that your employees can use throughout the day.
Of course, all this will have no impact if you don’t set the example yourself. Change needs to come from the leadership, translated into values and policies, and implemented at every level of the company. Work-life balance must be at the core of your company if you want it to truly improve the wellbeing of your employees.