Managing work and home life have become much more difficult due to Covid-19. There is a dual-sided pressure to meet the rising expectations for many employees both at work and home. On the one hand, there is the pressure to do more at work, take on extra tasks, or even move into unfamiliar roles due to company pivots or cutbacks. On the other hand, the increased expectations of juggling more complicated home lives, especially if school-age kids are involved, means that our lives are more fragmented than ever. The blurring of our work and personal time is a significant source of stress.
Prioritizing mental health and wellness within the workplace is now more critical than ever. Here are some of the most important ways that companies can improve work-life balance.
They Build a Culture of Care
One of the most important ways to improve balance is to build a culture where employees feel supported and respected. If there is a strong psychological contract between employees and their employer, they will perform better and demonstrate a higher commitment to the organization.
A psychological contract between employees and employers indicates a high degree of empathy, trust, respect, fairness, compassion, and objectivity in how they are treated.
Despite the importance of supportive and caring cultures a report found that only 31% of employees strongly agree that their employers care about them as a person. One in three employees left their job because they did not feel cared for, and one in five left because they did not feel someone supported their well-being.
They Build a Culture of Flexibility
Allowing employees to have flexible workdays or hours is a critical way to encourage a healthy work-life balance. Creating adaptable work environments helps to build resilient teams. There are several options. One option is having weekly hour requirements but allowing employees to vary how many hours they work each day as long as they reach the required total. Another option is emphasizing the result, the completed products or projects, instead of the hours worked.
They Build a Culture of Trust
Building a culture of trust helps to reduce the stress that accompanies ambiguity. Transparency is key. While employers may not be able to share everything with their teams, they can provide them with the information they need to see how their work is contributing to the company’s mission. One study of 2.5 million teams found that employees were three times more likely to be engaged when managers communicated daily with their direct reports than when their managers did not communicate regularly with them. Still, only 40% of employees say they are well-informed about their company’s strategic goals.
It’s also important to regularly ask for feedback and to make sure that all voices are heard. Building these practices into the culture communicates that you’re all in it together, even through tough times.
They Build a Culture of Health
An integral part of work-life balance is prioritizing health and wellness. Setting and modeling boundaries between work and home hours, so employees do not feel they must always be available is critical. Encouraging employees to take frequent breaks and making fitness, both physical and mental a priority, helps boost energy and concentration, and decrease stress.
They Build a Culture of Recognition
Publicly recognizing the hard work and contributions of team members decreases feelings of stress and increases connection and belonging feelings. The recognition can be during regular team meetings or impromptu gestures. Companies with high recognition cultures perform better and have less turnover than those that don’t, likely because even in trying circumstances, when employees can see that their efforts are valued, they’re more likely to stay happy and satisfied. When they perceive that their contributions to the organization and what they receive back are balanced, that also leads to positive outcomes such as feeling more connected in these more disconnected times.