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How to Improve Work Life Balance for Employees

Wednesday May 1, 2024

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Between regular work demands and the increasing trickiness of the work-from-home balance, employees are experiencing burnout from work.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout might look like depletion, exhaustion, distance from a job, cynicism about one’s job, and less professional efficacy.

One way to combat employee burnout is through improving work-life balance for employees. Here’s an overview of how to improve work-life balance for employees to help reduce burnout.

Why Is Work-Life Balance Important?

Work-life balance isn’t a new concept, but it’s becoming increasingly discussed—and for good reason. A healthy work-life balance is important for both the employees and the company as a whole.

Improving work-life integration can provide some of these benefits:

  • Less employee burnout
  • Fewer health issues
  • Increased engagement and mindfulness
  • Higher productivity levels
  • Less overtime
  • Fewer missed work days

Read more: Why Is Work-Life Balance Important?


Common Causes of Poor Work-Life Balance

The first step to combating poor work-life balance is understanding its causes.

These are some of the most common:

High Workload

One thing that makes it hard for employees to balance their personal lives and professional lives is a high workload. Too much work can bleed into personal time and space.

Higher workloads lead to longer hours and a constant need to be connected to work, even at home. Employees may find themselves working during weekends—or even worse, taking vacation days specifically to catch up on work.

In such situations, it’s not enough for employers to encourage employees to prioritize work-life balance without reducing their workload.

Unpredictable Autonomy

Autonomy refers to the control someone has over how, when, and where they complete their work.

Research from the American Psychological Association shows that when employees are satisfied with their level of autonomy, their mental health at work improves, as does their ability to balance work and life.

Giving employees more control over their schedules and responsibilities allows them to prioritize their workload effectively.

Lack of Recognition

Research shows that recognition increases engagement and productivity, meaning it’s easier for employees to get their work done when they feel valued. This, in turn, makes it easier for employees to stay on top of their workload.

When employees aren’t recognized for their hard work or achievements, they’ll have a harder time remaining present.

Lack of Workplace Community

A strong workplace culture is important for employees to thrive. When employees don’t feel like they have a strong community, they’ll have a harder time asking for help or contributing to their culture.

Additionally, when employees feel connected to their colleagues, they can request advice on how their coworkers achieve work-life balance.

Plus, a strong community of coworkers can recognize when employees need to take a break or aren’t performing at their best and can encourage them to take some time off.

When this community doesn’t exist, employees are more likely to feel isolated and disconnected from their work.

Lack of Purpose

Working with a purpose can help people feel focused on their work and happier to be there.

If an employee spends a significant amount of time on a project they don’t believe in, it can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction.

However, when their work holds meaning and purpose, employees are more inclined to be engaged and committed during work hours, making it easier to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

How Can Managers Help Improve Work-Life Balance?

According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), a healthy work-life balance starts with managers.

Managers have a significant influence over their teams and can send signals—implicit or explicit—that work should be prioritized over personal time.

Since managers play a key role in helping employees achieve healthy work-life balance, it’s important to equip them with the tools needed to do so.

Here are five ways to improve work-life balance:

1. Facilitate Team Connection and Community

A sense of community can be pivotal in helping employees with their work-life balance.

When employees have a community and a team, they will feel better supported and like their work has more purpose.

To create community, it’s important for managers to do purposeful team-building activities. Activities that are intentionally created to help employees take a break from work and separate themselves from their work for a moment can help employees learn to create a better balance.

2. Help Employees Reflect on Meaning & Purpose

Increased work-life balance can help with mindfulness. But it can also work in reverse.

Reflection can help employees establish a better balance in the first place. There are a variety of ways to help employees reflect. Some ways include:

  • Scheduled reflection time during meetings
  • Encouragement from management regularly to take a few minutes to reflect
  • Reflecting with team members during team meetings or team bonding experiences
  • Weekly email prompts to encourage self-reflection

By helping employees find purpose, they’ll be more engaged while at work.

3. Encourage Asynchronous Time

Asynchronous work refers to work employees complete individually without live collaboration from coworkers.

According to HBR, excessive meetings and requests for live collaboration can actually result in less efficiency and poorer work-life balance for remote workers. That’s because when employees attend meetings that don’t contain relevant information, it takes time away from their work.

Employees appreciate autonomy, and asynchronous time is a great way to encourage autonomy and help employees balance work and their own personal lives.

Managers can schedule asynchronous time into the calendar and allow employees the flexibility to work during those hours without being actively watched or monitored.

This can help employees feel a sense of control, resulting in increased productivity as employees are able to focus better. Having asynchronous time before meetings can also help employees feel prepared to contribute.

4. Support Flexible Hours

There’s an increasing recognition of the importance of outcomes over hours. Flexible hours can help employees balance work and life as it happens.

Allowing employees increased flexibility in their schedules—even as little of an adjustment as an hour—can help employees feel like they have more control over their work-life balance.

Flexible time for employees to help their children, go to the doctor, take a break, or find time to exercise can help them feel fulfilled at work and experience more balance.

5. Macro-Manage

Most people hate micromanaging. It’s often perceived as over-involvement of management in employees’ work.

However, in today’s business climate, micromanagement can look a little different. According to Gallup, some of the signs of micromanagement include:

  • Low communication and high expectations: When managers don’t provide the information required to complete a task and yet criticize it when it’s presented to them, it’s a form of micromanagement.
  • Overly critical: Most employees don’t mind when managers come alongside them as coaches but are bothered when they nitpick their work.
  • Low trust and low autonomy: When employees aren’t allowed to complete their work in the way that works best for them, they’re likely to get frustrated with management.

Macro-managing can be a beneficial way to help employees with work-life balance.

Working from home or on their own schedule doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be unproductive. In fact, allowing them to do so can be beneficial.

So instead of micromanaging, managers can macro-manage and focus on the bigger picture—trusting their employees to do what needs to be done. More control helps employees balance work better.

How Teamraderie Can Help

If you’re wondering how to promote work-life balance in the workplace for your team, we’re here to help.

Here at Teamraderie, we can help your team improve work-life balance with breaks from work that help build community, spark joy, and provide strong connections.

These are some of the experiences we’ve designed that can help your team and employees with work-life balance:

  • Wired for Wellness: A professional trainer will work with your team to activate their minds by strengthening their bodies physically while at work. A break to exercise and focus on building strength can recharge your team.
  • Virtual Team Happy Hour: Your team will learn how to make two fun cocktails (a non-alcoholic version is also available). Learning together can foster community and provide a needed break.
  • Virtual Terrarium Workshop: Plants are great ways to help reduce stress, and this experience is all about helping your team members to help plants thrive—and to reduce their own stress.
  • Virtual Beer Tasting: A beer expert will teach your whole team about beer (with a non-alcoholic option available as well).
  • Outcomes Over Hours: Led by expert and founder Tina Paterson, your team will learn how to work smarter instead of harder, making it easier to prioritize personal life when they get off work.

Connection and community can be hard with remote work, so using experiences like this one to help bring your team together can benefit work-life balance.

These experiences are a great way to start improving your employees’ work-life balance.

If you’re interested in seeing what other experiences we offer, check out our experience finder to find one that meets your team’s needs.

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