Over the years, businesses have adopted various strategies to curb turnover and retain employees. Work-life balance has become a major focus in these efforts, as the importance of a harmonious approach to how employees tackle work and personal responsibilities came into light.
Today, it is the top criterion for selecting an employer for both Gen Zs and millennial workers—all the more reason for businesses to prioritize it.
However, facilitating work-life balance is not just important for mitigating employee turnover. It is an essential factor for boosting productivity, too. In this article, we explore why.
What Is Work Life Balance?
This is a question many people still struggle to answer despite the extensive discussions this topic has generated in boardrooms.
Simply put, work-life balance is about giving a healthy amount of attention to an individual’s professional and personal lives.
Now, there are certain myths about this concept that we must address. Some believe that assigning an equal amount of time for work and play is essential for creating balance. This is nothing but a misguided notion.
Work-life balance and job performance are not really about minutes and hours. It has more to do with achieving fulfillment and happiness. How much time a person must allocate to attain them will vary between individuals.
Another misconception is about how this equilibrium is created. Some profess the importance of strictly working 9-5 or even part-time. Less work or fewer work hours does not necessarily equate to employees work-life balance.
Remember, the concept of balance can represent different things to different individuals. This is because each person has their own priorities, circumstances, interests, and ambitions.
As an organization, your focus must be on understanding these needs and creating an environment that supports and enables your employees to achieve their work and personal goals.
How Can Work-Life Balance Improve Employee Productivity?
When your employees’ professional and personal lives are in perfect harmony, they are better positioned to deliver improved productivity for several reasons.
An imbalance in work and personal lives is a significant cause of stress for many people. For instance, excessive workloads, long hours, and constant work pressures can prevent employees from getting enough rest, sleep, and time with their loved ones. When this happens over a prolonged period, the result is stress and burnout.
Severe stress could have a detrimental impact on an individual’s health and ability to function effectively in the workplace. It can deteriorate an employee’s mental and physical resilience, sap their energy, foster negativity, and make them anxious and irritable. These could also affect others around them, eventually taking a toll on team morale and productivity.
By ensuring enough time out for personal pursuits and minimizing conflicts between professional and personal activities, employees can reduce stress and feel positive and energized at work—important factors for a productive workforce.
Improved Job Satisfaction
Those leading a balanced lifestyle are undeniably happier and more content than others. They are cheerful, enthusiastic, and optimistic and won’t hesitate to go the extra mile for others. Satisfaction and job performance must be well balanced. Satisfied employees are likely to stay longer with their employers. All these could yield multiple benefits for boosting overall work output and organizational productivity.
Better Work Relationships
Employees who enjoy a harmonious personal and professional life are highly engaged and involved in the workplace. They communicate effectively, display greater empathy, and readily offer support to their colleagues.
Moreover, they actively nurture work relationships and are genuinely willing to help others and work together.
When there is a healthy work-life balance, employees can focus on the task at hand without feeling distracted or worrying about personal matters they have missed or failed to attend to.
Mindfulness helps minimize errors and boosts creativity and efficiency, significantly improving the quality of output.
Enhanced Mental and Physical Health
Work-life imbalance can lead to various mental and physical health issues—from anxiety and depression to insomnia, high blood pressure, and stroke. For an organization, these equate to frequent accidents and mistakes, lower work performance, and higher absenteeism.
With better balance, employees can enjoy greater well-being, while businesses benefit from improved productivity.
Helping Employees Achieve Healthy Work-Life Balance
So, how can you create a work environment that equips your employees to achieve a healthy equilibrium between their work and personal lives?
Here are proven tips to keep in mind:
- Take time to understand your employees’ needs. Each individual will have unique circumstances, aspirations, and, more importantly, expectations when it comes to work-life balance. By identifying these, you can create a more personalized and effective experience for each person.
- Assign realistic goals and workloads that are reasonably achievable within the given deadlines.
- Allow time off from work for teams, especially after unusually busy periods or demanding projects.
- Set up the necessary tools, work systems, and policies for flexi-time and work-from-home arrangements wherever possible.
- Prioritize output instead of the number of hours employees clock in.
- Create the infrastructure and facilities for teams to unwind and de-stress at work. For instance, you can set up game rooms, offer gym access, and provide free snacks.
- Proactively engage employees both inside and outside work—carry out games and competitions, celebrate every win, and organize team dinners or drinks after work.
- Schedule regular check-ins to find out how your employees are doing. This is especially important with those working remotely or flexi-time.
- Take genuine interest in their personal goals and aspirations and offer support when possible.
- Provide opportunities to engage in activities outside work, such as volunteering projects.
- Offer extra support for employees with kids.
- Design a more relaxing work environment. For example, set up open office plans instead of enclosed workspaces. Greenery is also known to create a soothing ambiance to minimize stress.
- Consider employee views and opinions with regular surveys.
If there are specific work-life balance challenges to address in your organization, consult a productivity expert to design a more focused strategy. You can search for a consultant near you on Leadar and check with your LinkedIn network for recommendations.
The effect of work-life balance on employee productivity is undeniable. Maintaining greater harmony between professional and personal lives can help reduce stress, improve job satisfaction, enable better work relationships, enhance focus, and boost mental and physical well-being—critical factors for efficiency and productivity gains.
As work models, organizational cultures, and expectations evolve with time, periodically re-evaluating how you facilitate work-life balance for your employees is also vital.