Finding the right balance between work and personal time can be a difficult task for both employers and employees. The truth is a better balance makes for happier the employee. A less stressed, more productive individual is what an employer is looking for and what employees should strive to be.
We live in a “bottom line” society so there must be clear benefits for promoting work/life balance. Employers are looking for steady or improved working results, and employees are looking to make their job less stressful and a little more enjoyable.
I. Benefits of a balanced work/personal life
As an employer providing this balance can improve an employee’s level of stress, quality of life, and overall productivity. One area that has a direct effect on company efficiency is employee turn-over rates – if there is better work-life balance, there is less employee attrition. In a study conducted by Hay Group’s global employee opinion database that contained over 5 million workers world-wide, over 40 percent reported that their organizations did not provide sufficient work-life balance. The research also showed that 27 percent of employees that worked within organizations that did not show support for work-life balance planned to leave their companies within two years.
Employers can support their employees in finding a better work-life balance. For example, employers and managers can prioritize their employees’ workloads so that the most important assignments are completed first, without making employees stressed. Employers and managers can also assign work fairly and equally. These technical aspects will help the balance but there are also a few activities that can make the office a more cohesive place.
II. Team Building Activities
Most companies are vested in their employees’ health and, therefore, offer medical and retirement packages as a way to keep them healthy and happy. Employers also support employee health, welfare, and work/life balance in other ways as well. For example, many employers offer an in-company softball program to support health, exercise, welfare, and balance and team togetherness. In fact, researchers have found that softball teams are just one of many ways that employers can improve employee health, morale and productivity.
Given that complicated interplay, you may ask, how does softball help? According to Harvard Health Publications a person weighing 155 lbs. can burn about 186 calories playing 30 minutes of softball. Many of today’s employees are stuck behind a desk for 8-10 hours a daily and this physical activity can really be beneficial.
Further, transferring employees from an office to an outdoor setting can also be helpful. The teamwork utilized in working together on an employer-sponsored softball team can be transferred when back in the office. Team activities help build camaraderie among co-workers. Lines of communication that may have not been opened before can now be further developed through the informal atmosphere of softball. Many researchers remind us that simply playing a game can relieve stress. Moreover, sports aficionados explain that crushing a softball with all your power can be a peaceful moment. Finding ways to release pent up aggression in a positive manner can help, softball can be that outlet.
Another option that employers have for increasing employee morale and achieving higher work/life balance is through the company retreat. First, getting out of the office and working on team building skills is a great way to improve informal employee interactions. Yes, that two-man/woman sack race that we all think about when company day is brought up can actually help back at the office.
The overall purpose of a company day is to get employees together away from work. The day should be enjoyable and an event employees look forward to year after year. There may be that awkward moment when a boss tries to interact with their employees but that break-through will help in the long run. A more intimate knowledge of your co-workers may make them more personable, easier to work for, and with.
Ultimately, the day should just be fun. Between daily commutes and long hours put in during the work week, some employees are around each other more than their own families. The office will benefit if those people enjoy being around each other.
III. Employee’s Perspective
Finding the right balance takes an effort from employers but there are also steps employees can take. Working for the perfect organization is ideal but if you are working for a company that has not reached perfection, here are some things you may be helpful.
Learn your company’s policies and practices. Normal working hours and days may be flexible. A better fit around your schedule may be achievable; all you need to do is inquire. Communication is also important. If you are not available during certain times or after a specific hour let your employer know. A courtesy “heads up” allows your employer the necessary steps to plan the workload. Tied into your availability is learning how to say “No.” Sometimes you are just not able to put in the extra time you normally give to your company or family. Respectfully declining a boss or a friend can help manage stress in your own life.
One of the most important ways to keep balance is to protect your private time. Finding a few hours a week to do exactly what you enjoy can help you rejuvenate. Reading a book, working out at the gym, or catching up with friends on a Saturday night can give you something to look forward to throughout the week.
Everyone has different obligations at work. Our jobs must be done and employers want to achieve maximum results. Incorporating a healthy work-life balance can lead to less stressful, more productive employees. It can also help employees take more interest in their jobs. More work produced from a more enjoyable workplace is a win-win for both employers and employees.
Lynn, Jessica. “What Are the Benefits of Company Softball Leagues?” Livestrong.com. 14 January 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2013 from: http://www.livestrong.com/article/356465-what-are-the-benefits-of-company-softball-leagues/
Mack, Stan. “Are Company Retreats Good for Productivity?” Chron.com. No Date. Retrieved 3 June 2013 from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/company-retreats-good-productivity-37136.html
Royal, Mark. “Everybody Wins With a Healthy Work-Life Balance”. Cnbc.com. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013 from: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100720414
Smith, Jacquelyn. “8 Ways to Achieve Better Work-Life Balance”. Forbes.com. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013 from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/04/18/8-ways-to-achieve-better-work-life-balance/
Lexacount Search is grateful for Oz Dawson’s hard work and research assistance. This posting would not have been possible without her exploration of this topic area.