It appears that more professionals are finding better work-life balance these days. More surprising, perhaps, is that many may have their managers — the ones who assign their work — to thank for it.
In a recent survey by recruiting firm Robert Half, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of employees polled said they’ve achieved a good to excellent work-life balance. Forty-three percent think it’s getting better compared to three years ago. In addition to salary, the work environment and any individual accommodations are major factors for employees as they decide whether to stay or leave their current employer in this strong labor market.
So, how can business leaders retain top talent and help their teams to maintain a satisfactory work-life balance? What’s more, how can employees sustain balance between their professional and personal lives? Here are six habits to consider when trying to pull of one of the greatest balancing acts of all-time, maintaining harmony at home and winning in the workplace.
DEFINE WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Advice for managers: Recognize that each of your employees has different needs. As much as possible, offer a variety of benefits and perks employees can choose from to help them better balance work and personal demands.
Advice for workers: Consider your career and personal goals to determine what work-life balance looks like to you.
TALK ABOUT IT
Advice for managers: Let your team know you support their efforts to find balance, both in words and by fostering an environment where people feel comfortable discussing their needs. Be sure you’re actively communicating options for flexible schedules or remote work arrangements.
Advice for workers: Speak with your manager about your goals. As part of the discussion, show how any changes you seek will also benefit the company. For example, by working an earlier schedule, you can help your department expand its service hours.
Advice for managers: Work with employees to identify parameters that are both realistic and measurable for their position. Helping employees achieve work-life balance is not a one size fits all tactic. It will mean something different for each employee, and it’s almost impossible to be effective if there are no set boundaries.
Advice for workers: Like any goal, work-life balance needs to be tracked. Whether it’s scheduled times, weekend hours logged or unused vacation days, find a way to measure your progress.
Advice for managers: Make work-life balance a regular agenda item in meetings with staff. If things aren’t working out — either for you or your employee — address the situation promptly. Discuss a solution that will work for both of you.
Advice for workers: If your current plan isn’t working, talk to your manager about changes you can make. He or she may have additional options to consider.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Advice for managers: Try leaving the office at a decent hour as often as possible. If employees see you don’t always burn the midnight oil, they’ll follow suit. Similarly, avoid flooding them with messages outside of normal business hours.
Advice for workers: When you have strategies or tools that help you meet your goals more efficiently, share them with your colleagues.
Advice for managers: Recognize that it’s OK for you to take a break, too. When out of the office, set specific times for checking in if you can’t check out completely.
Advice for workers: When away from work, avoid the temptation to check email simply for the sake of being connected to the office. This busywork only distracts you from your personal activities and ultimately saps your work productivity.
There isn’t a single, simple trick to achieve work-life balance. Companies have a better chance of attaining it — and helping their teams to do the same — by making it their own top priority and by actively fostering a workplace culture that promotes balance. Managers should also make a point to stay on top of emerging trends in work-life balance programs, to keep their own offerings fresh and ensure the company is providing in-demand benefits.
Kevin Traynor is the branch manager and vice president for Robert Half Finance & Accounting in Jacksonville. Learn more at RobertHalf.com/Jacksonville.