How Helping Employees Maintain a Work-Life Balance Can Strengthen Teams Within Your Company

helping employees maintain a work-life balance

Finding time for both your work and personal life can be a balancing act. Companies that help employees integrate the two will end up with happier workers and stronger teams. Image source: Flickr CC user Tom A La Rue

WellStar Health System in Atlanta, Georgia is a great place to work. And it’s not just the not-for-profit health group’s 14,000 employees who think so. For two years in a row, Fortune has named the company one of the 100 best companies to work for. WellStar’s executives credit their focus on work-life balance for the award. They know that to build a strong team, executives must support employees both at work and at home. In conjunction with this, the company emphasizes respect, fairness, and pride in the workplace. By helping employees maintain a work-life balance, WellStar allows staff at all levels to focus on patient care.

Could a stronger focus on work-life balance help your business thrive? Take some time to analyze where your company is succeeding, and where you might be falling short.

When It Comes to Work-life Balance, Fairness Is Essential

When you think about work-life balance, what comes to mind? Many leaders understand that working parents need balance. After all, they’re juggling work, kids, meals, activities, and illnesses. They need flexibility at work so they can take care of their home lives. However, focusing exclusively on the needs of parents can actually weaken your team. When childless employees are expected to work longer hours than parents, they grow resentful. This destroys workplace camaraderie and weakens your team. Strengthening teams by helping employees maintain a work-life balance means taking all employees into account.

It’s possible to institute policies that encourage a healthy work-life balance for all of your employees, not just the team members who act as caregivers when they’re off the clock.  For instance, you can:

  • Institute a PTO program in which each employee receives a set number of days off that can be used as either personal days, sick days, or vacation days. With a PTO system, the employee who is volunteering for a local charity or preparing for a marathon receives the same consideration as the parent who wants to attend a basketball game or who has a kid at home with the flu. A PTO system can reduce conflict because the company isn’t treating some personal activities as more important than others.
  • Allow flexible scheduling and comp time. On a manufacturing line, flextime may be impossible. But in an office situation, flexible scheduling can give all employees the option to shift their work schedules around other demands. Instead of using time off to attend appointments or care for family, your employees can adjust their working hours to fit their other commitments. Flexible scheduling and comp time often increase team productivity as well, since they give your employees the freedom to work longer hours when necessary, and to take off when they need to.
  • Offer telecommuting options. Give your employees the chance to telecommute on certain days of the week. This accommodation helps parents who may be facing snow days and other childcare hassles, but it also helps childless employees who may want to recover the time wasted on a commute.
  • Encourage work-life balance at the institutional level.  It’s not enough to offer opportunities for all employees to balance personal and job responsibilities. You also have to make it clear that you and other company leaders support taking time off and participating in personal activities, no matter what they are. Everyone celebrates the employee who has a new baby, but what about the employee who just ran his first marathon or returned from a service trip in Appalachia? Recognize life accomplishments for all of your employees, not just those with young families at home.

Pride in the Work Begins at Home

Work-life balance also plays a part in helping employees develop pride in their work. WellStar is an award-winning workplace not only because it’s fair to its workers, but because its employees take pride in the work they do every day. Employees who are proud of their jobs, their service, and their personal accomplishments are employees who form strong, capable teams. However, pride has to begin at home.  Help your employees have pride in your company by:

  • Holding open houses and family days. Give your employees a chance to show friends, family, and the whole community what they do every day. Let them show off their workspaces, the projects they’re involved in, and their co-workers. People take pride in their work when they can let others see how important and challenging it is.
  • Sending a company newsletter to employee homes.  Create a company newsletter that highlights your employees and their accomplishments, and what the company as a whole has done to make the world a better place. Don’t limit yourself to an e-newsletter. A simple, four-page publication mailed to employee homes will give their families a chance to see what they’re doing and to encourage them in their work.
  • Placing articles or paid advertisements in local papers. Let the whole community know about the great things your company does for its neighbors. For instance, have you helped with a job training program at the local high school? Did your employees volunteer at the local soup kitchen? When the whole community is proud of your company, your employees are proud of their company too.

Like Atlanta’s WellStar, you can create a strong, engaged team of employees if you focus on work-life balance, fairness, and pride. The key is to know your employees, their needs, and their place in the larger community.  If you’re unsure of how to create the sort of policies and culture that encourage work-life balance and lead to strong teams, Applied Vision Works’ experts can help you gather data, make connections, and help your company–and employees–succeed.

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