Work-life balance strategies are vital to the modern workplace because many teams are left feeling frazzled and stressed at the end of the day. Instead of being able to leave these negative emotions at the office, they often bleed into our home lives as we worry about the next day. If left unchecked, this poor work-life balance can cause severe issues to our performance and overall health.

Thankfully, there are easy to implement work-life balance strategies that can help your team establish healthy boundaries, good habits, and happier work lives. We’ve researched some of the best techniques and outlined them below!


Know That Everyone’s Work-Life Balance is Different

One of the most important aspects to remember as you work on improving your employee’s work-life balance is that a healthy balance won’t look the same for every one of your employees.

Just as each of your employees as their own style of work, they’ll have their own unique work-life balance that works for them.

That’s why it’s important that, as a team leader, you go deeper than trying to offer blanket solutions for an overly stressed workplace. Talk with your team individually to find out what causes them stress, anxiety, and feelings of resentment toward their work-life balance.


Learn to Set Realistic Goals

As a team, you should always have goals the entire team is working toward. However, goals that are too unreasonable can become a major source of stress that follows your employees home after work.

Most of us have been there, spending a late night dreading an upcoming project deadline, working through the night to finish last-minute details while sacrificing our own health.

Too many nights of this can lead to your employees feeling like there’s a work-life balance issue. This is why it’s vital you set realistic and achievable goals. You want your team to feel challenged, but you don’t want them to feel forced to forgo their home life or health to meet an impossible goal.


Everything Has A Priority Level

Just as it’s important to set reasonable goals, you should begin identifying priority levels for common tasks or projects that cause your employees stress. Every task should have a priority level, and helping your team identify the low-priority tasks can help save stress and time in the long run.

For example, answering team leader emails can often feel like one of the employees’ most pressing concerns. We all want to please our boss, and if they’re asking us a question or to do them a favor, this urge to please is even stronger.

It may not seem like much to take a moment to answer an email, but studies have shown that it takes the average worker 23 minutes to refocus after an interruption. What if the task you’re interrupting with an email has to be done before an employee can go home? If it’s after hours, what if that task being interrupted is cooking dinner, spending time with family, or unwinding for the first time that day?

Let your employees know it’s okay to let low-priority tasks and emails sit on the backburner while the more important things in work and life get done. That email will still be in their inbox in the morning!


Support Open Communication

While it may not be possible for you to institution an “open door” policy where your team can come and go as they please, make sure you leave an open line of communication for work-life balance issues. Even if your solution is to tell employees to send you a direct message on Slack, make sure your team knows they can communicate their concerns in a welcoming environment.

Even if you say, “the door’s always open” many employees will wait to reach out about work-life balance issues until they’re already overwhelmed. One way to combat this, and support communication in general, is to ask your team variations of the following:

  • What can we do to make your job less stressful?
  • Are there any tasks causing issues with your core job duties?
  • Do you feel like you’re taking work home with you when you don’t want to?

Encourage Ownership

One factor that leads to your team bringing work-related stress home with them is the feeling that they’re lacking control in the workplace. Whether that’s due to a micromanaging team leader, lack of recognition for outstanding work, or poor communication varies from workplace to workplace.

You can combat this by encouraging your team members to take ownership and pride in their work. Make visual charts to track progress on long-term goals, ask and implement feedback directly from the team, and encourage team discussions about the “why” for your work.


Provide Workplace Flexibility

The 9-5 workweek is outdated. In the age of knowledge workers and Internet-enabled watches on our wrists, we no longer need to truly be in-office to produce our best work.

While not every team will have the opportunity to work from home or on their own schedule, work to see where you can provide flexibility for your team. From letting employees off an hour early to go see their child’s basketball game to being less rigid with your lunch breaks, there are plenty of ways you can give your employees some much-needed breathing room in their schedules.


Be Willing to Have Some Fun

From team-building exercises to bring your pet to work day, there are endless ways to make the day-to-day less stressful. Fun activities, no matter how short, silly, or simple, allow your team to blow off steam and refocus. This is an effective work-life balance strategy because it’ll allow your team to release tension built up throughout the workweek, meaning they won’t pack it with them when it’s time to go home.


Be Open to Feedback

Sometimes, even well-implemented work-life balance strategies just don’t work well with your team. Whether it’s due to your office culture or the makeup of your team, not every technique you try will improve your employee’s ability to stop mixing work and home life in unhealthy ways.

This is why it’s crucial you monitor the success of your strategies and implement a feedback system. If something isn’t working and it’s causing issues, you’ll likely hear all about it from several team members. However, if a work-life balance strategy isn’t working and isn’t causing any problems, you may end up wasting resources on a tool your employees don’t even use.

Don’t be afraid to ask, “are you guys still using the nap room?” or “if flexible lunch breaks aren’t your thing, what can we do instead to help you reduce stress at work?”


Allow Room for Modification

Rigid systems and rules have their place, but so does employee modification. If your team feels free to find ways to optimize their work, they’ll do so. When your team has that level of control and ability to work in ways that make sense to them, they’ll often not only be more productive but also less likely to carry stress and resentment home with them.

Maybe an employee would rather answer non-essential emails on their commute home than follow a ‘no emails outside the office’ rule; if that works as a way for them to put work away before they get home, you should encourage this sort of personalization of work-life balance.


Establish Work Boundaries

However, many team members would benefit from a ‘leave work at work’ rule put into place. Effectively, this means limiting after-hours emails, direct messages, and phone calls to the absolute bare minimum. Non-essential communications after hours interrupt your team’s daily lives, causing work-life balance issues. It’s also extremely hard to come back to work with a fresh perspective if you never had the chance to take a step back.


Mean It When You Say “No”

Modeling a healthy work-life balance is one of the most effective strategies, and this is where saying “no” comes in.

We’re all guilty of trying to say “no” and gradually letting our resolve be worn down. Whether it’s relenting to wearing the crown at your daughter’s tea party or filling out paperwork for a coworker, sometimes we start with a “no” and end up doing the favor anyway.

When your team sees you modeling a firm “no”, even if it’s only to the box of doughnuts in the break room, they’ll feel more empowered to do the same. There are times when refusing an extra task or project is vital, not just for a healthy work-life balance, but for the sake of your business.


Offer Workplace Perks

Just as having fun can allow your employees to unwind, there are plenty of workplace perks that can lead to a healthier work-life balance. Ideas as simple as fresh fruit in the break room to providing more annual leave give you a wide range of possibilities. Talk to your team about what kind of perks they’d like to see (not every office is into workplace yoga) and see what you can reasonably do to make the office feel less stressful and more healthy.


Provide Access to Education

For every work-life balance strategy you implement or encourage in your team, you should provide them with the education they’ll need to implement it successfully in their life.

In the age of the Internet, there’s an article or blog post to explain nearly everything. Take advantage of this! If you’re trying to get your team to stop multitasking their way into burnout, send out an email with an article detailing how multitasking adds to our stress levels.


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