Burnout. It’s a word we all hear increasingly often. Between regular work demands and the increasing trickiness of the work-from-home balance, employees are experiencing burnout from work. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as symptoms “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
What does burnout look like? According to the WHO, burnout might look like depletion, exhaustion, distance from a job, cynicism about your job and less professional efficacy. Basically, burnout will mean you or your teammates are feeling stressed, tired, and ready for space from work. Burnout can hurt the workplace and the environment for employees, so it’s important to keep it as low as possible with active prevention.
One way to combat employee burnout is through improving work-life balance for employees. What is work-life balance? How can it be improved? We’ll walk you through the key parts of work-life balance and how to improve work-life balance for employees and teams to help reduce burnout.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is successfully carving out appropriate amounts of time for both your professional and personal life. It’s the fine line between keeping work at work and home at home. For most employees, it’s often most difficult to keep your work at work and to focus on your personal life outside of work. It’s become increasingly more difficult to balance that with an increase in remote work. Spaces that used to be areas to relax away from work are now many people’s offices, and that can add a wrench in work-life balance.
Why Does It Matter?
Work-life balance isn’t a new concept, but it’s becoming more and more talked about—and for good reason. Having 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:
- Fewer burnouts. Burnout happens from unresolved work-related stress, so helping employees balance work and home can reduce that and help employees feel better.
- Fewer health issues. Burnout doesn’t just affect the mind. It can lead to physical health problems as well. Many people experience trouble sleeping, stomach problems and headaches. In the long run, these things can build up and lead to real issues. Improving work-life balance can help reduce stress and reduce the build up of health issues.
- More mindfulness. Employees that are able to keep a good balance can also be more mindful in general. Mindfulness can help with stress as well but also help employees improve their work.
- Higher productivity. When employees are less stressed, experiencing less burnout and more mindful of their work, they’re going to be more productive. Working too much reduces employee output, according to Stanford researchers, so it’s important for productivity to keep work manageable. So improving work-life balance will also benefit the entire company as a whole.
What Are the Most Common Causes for Poor Work-Life Balance?
If work-life balance is so important, we want to improve it. But how can we improve work-life balance if we don’t understand what’s causing it in the first place? These are some of the most common causes for poor work-life balance to understand in order to help improve it in the future.
One thing that makes it hard for employees to balance their personal lives and professional lives is a high workload. Having too much to do makes it so work has to bleed into personal time and spaces in order for it to get completed. Higher workloads leads to longer hours—as well as a constant need to be connected to work, even when at home.
Autonomy is how much control someone has over their work. In general, people like to have more autonomy with their work. But more than that, it’s important that employees are able to work autonomously and know what will happen because of it. Jeffrey Pfeffer writes in his book Dying for a Paycheck, “If through their actions people cannot predictably and significantly affect what happens to them, they are going to stop trying. Why expend effort when the results of that effort are uncontrollable, rendering the effort fruitless?” Giving employees control and helping them know how it affects them will help them balance their life and work.
Lack of Recognition
We all like to be recognized when we do something good, and that applies at work. When employees aren’t recognized for their hard work or particular achievements, they’re going to have a harder time separating work and home. They might find themselves feeling less happy to be at work and less like their work is doing something for them and the company.
Lack of Workplace Community
We all need a community to thrive, and we need community in the workplace to really thrive at work as well. The community at work helps employees feel like they’re making a contribution to something bigger, not just checking off a box. A lack of workplace community can foster a blurring of lines between work and home and make it harder for employees to focus on their work when they’re at work.
Lack of Fairness
If employees aren’t all treated with equal fairness, it makes it hard for them to want to be at work and to leave their work at work. Policies and practices should all be administered equally to help remove this obstacle to work-life balance.
Lack of Purpose
Working with a purpose can help people feel focused on their work and happier to be there. Spending 60 hours a week on a project that the employee feels is doing nothing will leave the employee feeling burned out and unhappy with their work. If their work has a purpose, they’re more likely to want to be present and focused at work—and to leave work at work.
How Can Managers Help Improve Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is important, and a poor balance is typically caused by something happening in the workplace—from increased workloads and hours to a lack of purpose and recognition. Since work-life balance is often based on the workplace itself, team managers play a powerful role in helping employees manage their work-life balance. How can managers help their employees improve work-life balance? These are some of the best ways to consider.
Do Purposeful Team Building
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 to separate themselves from their work for a moment can help employees learn to create a better balance.
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
Encourage Asynchronous Time
Employees appreciate autonomy, and asynchronous time is a great way to encourage autonomy and to 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. Employees will feel a sense of control, and managers could see increased productivity as the scheduled time will help employees focus. Having asynchronous time before meetings can also help employees feel prepared to contribute.
Support Flexible Hours
Life happens, and 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.
Most people hate micromanaging. But macro-managing can be a beneficial way to help employees with work-life balance. Ultimately at the end of the day, employees know what they need to do for their jobs. 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 what each employee is doing, 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:
- Activate the Body to Activate High-Performing Teams. With this experience, 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 help employees put work aside for a moment. Then when they come back, they’ll be much more recharged and ready to focus on work.
- Shake Up Your Team Agenda – A Cocktail Experience. This experience allows your team a break to learn about how to make two fun cocktails (non-alcoholic version also available). Learning together can foster community and help create connections—all of which can provide a good break and good support while at work.
- Grow a Terrarium to Cultivate Team Well-being. 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. When employees are less stressed, they’ll leave their work at work.
- Drink Again…Learning to Think Broadly About Beer. This experience is a virtual experience for your team that they can do wherever they are. A beer expert will teach your whole team about beers in ways they haven’t before (with a non-alcoholic option available as well). 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 and more are a great way to start improving your employees’ work-life balance. Book an experience today!