6 Tips for Maintaining Balance in the Workplace

| April 13, 2023

Almost everyone understands what it means to hustle. It’s been a part of work culture since the early 19th century, when the word was first used to mean gumption or hard work. In today’s workplace, it often refers to the most dedicated, hardest workers. The first ones in the office and the last ones to leave. Workers who check email on vacation and are always reachable, even when they’re sick.

Sometimes all that hard work pays off. Some go-getters get promotions and raises. But success stories notwithstanding, burning the midnight oil doesn’t actually increase productivity. In 2019, CNBC shared a survey from Stanford University showing that “productivity per hour decline(s) sharply when a person works more than 50 hours a week.”

And according to a 2018 Deloitte survey, this pattern can lead to burnout. It showed that 77% of surveyed employees have experienced burnout in the workplace and nearly 70% of them feel like their employer isn’t doing enough to prevent it. Among the leading causes cited were working long hours or over weekends and having to meet unrealistic expectations.

If you’ve conducted job interviews recently, you probably know that many job seekers today have little love for hustle culture. Instead, they want the freedom at work to set boundaries so getting their jobs done doesn’t encroach on their lives outside of work. This makes good business sense too. According to Harvard Business Review, when employers support work-life balance, they promote productivity, reduce turnover, improve employee health, and boost diversity.

If you want to encourage better work and home boundaries for your employees but are wondering how to go about it, here are some tips to get you started. 

  1. Start at the top. Encourage your managers to come and go at reasonable times and take days off. Discourage making calls or sending emails after regular working hours. Ensure that leaders are taking breaks throughout the day and are encouraging their team members to do so as well.
  2. Focus on outcomes, not number of hours working. Set substantive goals with employees rather than focusing on the number of hours they’re working. Train managers how to evaluate performance based on objective measurements of productivity and efficiency. It’s the good work that matters, not the time spent at a workstation, the number of keystrokes logged or the appearance of busyness. By not constantly monitoring their employees, managers will be able to balance their days better and create a more relaxing work environment for employees. 
  3. Ensure proper staffing and workload. Set expectations around the amount of work each employee should be able to complete in a standard workday. Share those expectations with the team and get their input on what a reasonable workload should look like and whether they’re feeling underworked or overworked. If you’re understaffed, you may need to assign extra work to employees, but make sure no one’s plate gets so full they’re at risk of burnout. Reward the extra effort and watch for signs of low morale.
  4. Be flexible. Give employees the ability to flex their schedule to take care of personal business during the workday without jumping through a lot of hoops. Use a shared calendar so everyone knows who is available and when. If your workplace has a variety of shifts, consider offering employees the ability to work hours across different shifts to find flexibility.
  5. Revisit paid time off (PTO) options. Review what you currently offer and dig into why you have the PTO plans you do. Make sure you’re offering at least as much as your competitors (if possible). In addition to paid time off for vacation and illness, consider offering paid time off for specific activities like volunteering.  
  6. Communicate with your employees. Ask them how they feel about their workload, whether they feel they have healthy work/life balance, and what would help them better attend to their personal obligations. Survey them about what’s causing them the most stress at work and what work-related matters may be keeping them up at night. Keep an open discussion going. 

For more tips on this topic, contact DiNicola Insurance Services today.