Work Life Balance
One of the more difficult complications a leader will face is the maintenance of a healthy work life balance and how to create balance for employees. We must assure that employees also are not driven to an unhealthy lifestyle. As a leader, we can also become consumed with the job and drive ourselves to an unhealthy, unsustainable level of workload. A leader can become so absorbed in attaining goals that we raise our expectations of our team to an unhealthy level. To assure that we allow employees time to recharge themselves and become more productive, the following options should be considered.
1. Allow employees to telework as needed. Allowing an employee the flexibility to carry on operations when employees can’t get to the office because of family complications and/or bad weather has an extreme payback. Conceptually we may think that people will not be productive while working remotely, but studies show the temporary relief will invigorate the employee’s outlook on work and will allow someone’s self-worth to increase. However, as a leader you must set guidelines as to the amount of time that is allowed and the requirements to participate on mandatory meetings.
2. Give employees the necessary technical tools to be effective. Offer to pay for part or all of devices that are necessary for the employees to stay connected. Studies show that employees will stay connected for longer hours if they have the devices that allow email and other communications to occur after hours.
3. Avoid directing employees from using the company’s high tech products for business use only. Past practices told employees that devices were only for business use. Unless restricted by information protection, the past practices have proven ineffective. Employees would shut the company’s cell phone off after hours and use their personal phones thereby limiting the benefits of having the device.
4. Set the standard that employees should not be called or emailed while on vacation unless it is urgent. Define what is considered urgent and do not violate it. Employees need the time to recharge themselves and need to feel that it is acceptable not to engage while on vacation. This also allows others to step up and demonstrate their worth and encourages their growth. If it is necessary for an employee to be available while on vacation or during down time, assure that the hours are limited. Contingencies should be planned so that there is someone that can assume the roles necessary.
5. Leaders and executives should never be off the grid for extended times. Employees must feel that they are not abandoned when the executive is gone. Emergencies do arise and leaders do need to make decisions. Employees will respect the executive’s need to be out and will not overburden them. If a leader does not accept this premise, then they are not executive material.
6. Set the standards to your team for communications when they are out. Texting and calling is for urgent issues, emails are for routine problems, and on line access to group folders is low priority. Never use social media (i.e. Facebook, Instagram etc.) to communicate company issues.
7. Establish face to face communications for important issues. This is the most effective communication and most of these can be preplanned.
8. Respect that people are different. Everyone has different priorities and we cannot expect everyone to accept ours. Let the employee return a call at a later hour if they are home. Employees have personal lives and they need you to respect their life as they respect your needs.
1. Manage your time. When you show up to work, know your priorities and know how to assure what is reasonable to get accomplished within the day or week. Delegate out the remainder to assure it is completed. Make time for hobbies, passions, and relationships. Few of us live for work alone and it is not healthy to do so.
2. Take time for you. It is important to remember that all your free time does not have to be available time. Enjoy some alone time and time that you do things for you. Have a social life and schedule social activities where the phone is off. Enjoy weekends and vacations. Take specific parts of those times that you are out of communication with work. Let it be known in advance that you will not be available and then follow through and don’t be available. Arrange for coverage during these times for urgent issues. Post the contingency contacts and do not violate those times with work calls.
3. Make time for your family. Set those times aside for just them. Follow the same coverage rules aforementioned but give them the one on one time they so need and deserve. If you parenting partner is tied up in work, do not abandon everyone by getting involved with work issues. Ninety nine percent of the issues that come to you can be delayed or postponed for an hour or two. Make family time special and assure them that they are a priority by not being involved with work.
4. Get your home chores done. Take time for them and plan them. Be specific in the tasks you will take on and plan them out. Take on the least favorite task early in the week as that will allow the task to be taken on without the burned out feeling from a busy work week. If you leave hard tasks for when you are exhausted, they will become more burdensome and irritating. Realize that some tasks will have to get hired out to other people so only plan for a reasonable amount of work to be completed by yourself.
5. Finally, take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, make time for relaxation, exercise, volunteer, and be balanced person. Know when your life is out of control and if needed seek professional help.