Strategies for improving your employee's work life balance

There was a time when most employees considered work and “life” to be two separate things, but in the modern, technologically connected world, the lines between these two elements have blurred considerably. Workers today care deeply about their work life balance and view their personal life and their job to be equally important.

On one of our recent studies, 53% of employees said that a job that allows them to have a better work life balance and higher personal well-being is extremely important, and 60% of Human Resources professionals surveyed also ranked this as an extremely important job factor.

While work life balance will mean different things to different workers, there are a few general trends that are clear. Here are five things that you can do to improve your employees’ overall work life balance.

1.  Provide flexible hours and schedules

Today’s employees want to have flexible schedules and be able to work remotely whenever possible. This allows them the time they need to take care of business in their personal life – so that it doesn’t interfere with completing work tasks. Most modern workers aren’t looking for a set eight-hour workday or a straightforward five-day work week. Instead, they want more flexibility, including longer workdays for four-day workweeks and flex hours where they can come in as late as they need to or as early as they want to – as long as they remain and work for the appropriate amount of time. Some employees would even rather work through their lunch hour in order to leave earlier, or work some weekends in order to have time off during the week to take care of personal tasks.

  • Research finds that flexible scheduling matters more than you think. One study found that 66% of Millennials surveyed would like to shift their work hours to later in the day or put in some time in the evening instead. The desire for flex schedules is so strong that 15% of male and 21% of female employees said they’d even be willing to give up some of their pay or postpone a career advancement in exchange for less hours or more accommodating schedules.
  • Over half of employees today would change jobs for flextime. NBCNews.com reports that over half of employees would switch jobs for flextime opportunities. And, Gallup consistently finds that flexible scheduling plays a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a particular job.

What kind of schedule do your employees want? Survey your team today and find out. Get started →

2. Consider allowing flexible hours when appropriate

Research also finds that work-from-home and offsite options have an impact on employees’ decisions to take or leave a job – again, particularly among the millennial generation. You’ll also find that offering this opportunity to parents can be especially motivating and reduces both employee stress levels and the number of days they have to take off from work.

  •  Letting employees work from home regularly actually lowers some expenses. This is true both for companies (think utility bills, supplies, and even coffee) and your workers (gas, parking, vehicle wear and tear, etc.).
  • The Gallup study found that worker engagement is actually higher when employees can spend time working remotely. This allows your employees the flexibility they need to take care of sick children, run errands, handle personal issues, and then be able to focus on completing their workload.
  •  37 percent of today’s workers say they would actually be willing to change jobs so that they can work offsite at least part of the time.

3. Communicate your benefits clearly

In order to truly take advantage of the benefits your company offers, employees need to be clear on the options that are available to them. This helps workers actually use the benefits and improve their work-life balance. It’s also essential to make sure that your workplace culture encourages your employees to use these benefits, instead of simply having them there on paper, but tacitly discouraging your workers from using them.

4.  Promote exercise

Whether it’s simply offering discount rates to local health clubs or allowing your employees more flexible lunch schedules so that they can get in a workout and shower before returning to the office, encouraging healthier employees who exercise regularly reduces sick time and makes for a happier workforce. Exercise breaks are already incorporated into many Japanese companies, and China has mandatory exercises twice a day at state-owned companies. American companies can learn a lot from these practices.

  • Employees who can exercise at work are more productive, happy, efficient and calm. A study at Bristol University in England reinforced this conclusion.
  • Regular exercise actually changes the brain, improving memory and thinking skills. A study at the University of British Columbia, showed that regular aerobic exercise actually increased the size of the part of the brain that is used for learning and verbal memory.

5. Allow for weekends and vacation time

If your employees’ weekends and workdays all blur together, then their minds and bodies never have the time they need to rest. While there may be some work-related activities that they need to –or even want to– take care of during their “time off,” it’s essential that they actually do have some time to relax and enjoy themselves in order to avoid burnout.

  • One recent study showed that over half of workers in the United States didn’t use their vacation time because their hectic work schedules didn’t allow time for it. Encouraging your employees to take time off and use their vacation days is essential for a healthy work-life balance.
  • Another research study found that after a resort vacation, employees felt more energetic and less stressed. The vacation also had a strong, positive impact on the molecular networks associated with improved immune function, making them less likely to get sick.

While improving the work-life balance of your employees won’t happen overnight, and your particular company may not be able to integrate all of these strategies, adding any of these elements can have a drastic, positive effect on your employees’ morale and performance.

Whatever strategies you choose to encourage a better work-life balance among your workers, you’ll want to start by assessing how your employees already feel about their work environment.

At SurveyMonkey, we provide additional information, numerous survey templates, and a custom built solution to assist your company in providing a better balance between work and your employees’ personal lives.