Everybody needs some down time – it is not conducive to mental health (or business) when someone overworks themselves. Here’s how to perform the work/life balancing act.
Striking the right work/life balance is crucial to maintaining good mental health, yet a report from YouGov earlier this year found that one in five (21 per cent) of 25-34s are unhappy with their work/life balance.
This is compared to around one in six (15 per cent) of 18-24 year-olds, 14 per cent of 35-44 year-olds, 17 per cent of 45-54 year-olds, and only 11 per cent of over 55s.
The study found that 41 per cent of 25-34s believed their boss sometimes expected them to work outside their normal house, with 26 per cent claiming that there is pressure to work outside their regular work day.
For example, these employees feel a major pressure to respond to communications such as emails outside of office hours, with 38 per cent claiming to make or receive work-related calls even while on holiday.
The importance of a healthy work/life balance should not be overlooked, as any employees feeling under too much pressure will be a lot more stressed, and a lot less motivated – and that isn’t good for anyone.
Of course, nobody wants their employees to feel stressed and over-worked – but what’s the business case for promoting a healthy work/life balance?
Top performers tend to work for bursts of 52 minutes, followed by 17 minute breaks, according to Desk Time – and productivity output drops significantly once the 50-hour work week threshold is breached, according to Stanford University.
Clearly, people work better when they have time to take a break and re-charge. Keep driving them, and you risk burnout.
So, how can employers encourage a health work/life balance?
There are many things businesses can do to encourage employees to maintain a healthy work/life balance, such as including perks and benefits in the employee package such as gym memberships, cycle schemes and day care.
However, these sorts of things depend on budget and often a microbusiness will be operating with a smaller pool of resources.
There are also some things any employer can do that are more focused on office culture and attitude. For example:
1. Make the most of holidays – Employers should encourage employees to use up their allotted holiday, even if they spend it on a staycation
2. Flexible working – Changing up hours or working remotely can do wonders for a work/life balance – a change is a good as a rest!
3. Become a wanderer – Encourage employees to take their lunch away from their desk, to give their eyes a rest and stretch their legs
4. Learn to prioritise – Keep employees informed of which projects are most pressing, so they can prioritise accordingly. Time management is crucial to maintaining a good work/life balance – there are only so many hours in a day
5. Stick to allotted work hours – Sometimes, projects run over and employees have to put in a couple of hours over time. However, if this is happening on a regular basis, something isn’t right. Encourage employees to stick to allotted work hours, and only read and respond to emails at those times.
By making these relatively simple changes, employers can drastically improve their employee’s health and wellbeing. They can help them manage stress better, and overall become more motivated workers.
It’s up to managers to make employees feel comfortable to take a break, and to switch off at the end of the day. It might sound counter-intuitive, but sometimes less is more.
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