The past couple of years have been challenging for many. People worried about their health, and that of their loved ones. They endured less social interaction with family members, friends, and colleagues. And many ventured into the sometimes isolating experience of remote work for the first time.

Work-life balance suffered as we all did our best to adapt to changing circumstances, and it’s time to focus on this critical area once again. This is so important to your team members that 25 percent say the main reason they’d consider leaving their jobs is for better work-life balance.

Here’s how you can help your team set good habits now to support work-life balance all year.

1. Work with team members to set goals

It’s common for people to put in extra hours at work so they’re more visible and look like they’re working harder—especially among remote workers. In fact, remote work has led to a 2.5 hour increase in the average working day. Long work hours can lead to burnout and poor work-life balance.

Employers can help overcome this problem by focusing on results—rather than time spent working. Managers should work with their team members to set realistic goals, and discuss progress toward those goals during regular one-on-ones. Goals are best set during the employee onboarding process, and in regular intervals thereafter, so your team members always know what’s expected of them and exactly how they’re being evaluated.

2. Encourage team members to sign off after work

Smart phones, SaaS solutions, cloud storage, and home offices have blurred the lines between home and work. People can work anytime, anywhere—and many do.

Encourage your team members to switch off when they’re away from work, and hold them accountable for doing so. For example, if you see team members sending emails on weekends or during paid time off, remind them that the “always on” mindset is discouraged. 

Company leaders should model this behavior for the rest of the company so team members feel comfortable following suit. This might mean leaving the office at a reasonable time each day, and refraining from sending communications outside of their normal working hours.

You might also offer a remote work stipend for team members to set up a home office or go to a coworking space. This can allow remote team members to physically leave their workspace when they’ve finished for the day so they can separate work from their free time.

3. Offer flexible work options

Flexible work options are one of the most effective ways to improve work-life balance. They give your team members the opportunity to set work schedules that best align with their lifestyles. 

Remote work has become a popular flexible work option during the pandemic, but other options could help your team members achieve better work-life balance. For instance, you could offer flex hours and four-day workweeks to allow your team members to set their own schedules. This could mean team members work a few hours in the morning followed by another work-block in the evening. Or it could mean team members compress a 40-hour workweek into four days. 

You might even reconsider the 40-hour workweek entirely. Employers in Iceland experimented with reducing the workweek to 35-36 hours without reducing pay. They found that productivity and service provision was maintained or improved, and team members’ wellbeing and work-life balance improved.

4. Encourage time off

Time off is necessary for your team members to recharge and spend time on their interests outside of work, but many people don’t take it. Show your managers how to see accrued, planned, and used time off so they can reach out to people who aren’t using it. Managers and other company leaders should also be seen to take time away from work and fully unplug, so your team members feel comfortable doing so.

A recent trend among employers has been to offer a company-wide day or week off work. For example, Sapling hosts a ‘Friends and Family’ day each quarter to give all team members some extra space in their lives outside of work. This allows all team members to enjoy time off together, so they don’t have to worry about missing out on projects or important communications while they’re away.

5. Improve your employee benefits and perks

There are many types of wellness—including physical, emotional, social, and financial. A well-rounded benefits package should focus on more of these areas to help your team members excel on all areas of their lives. 

Benefits and perks might include retirement plans, mental health resources, gym reimbursement, affinity groups, and volunteer time off. These wellness benefits can help your team members manage stress and burnout, improve productivity and encourage a positive mindset at work, and better manage their personal needs.

Final thoughts on work-life balance

Work-life balance can be tricky to navigate, but it’s so important to get it right. The concept of work-life integration has taken hold in more recent years to allow for greater flexibility between these two major aspects of people’s lives. For instance, you might have a lunchtime walking group or a book club for your team members so they can enjoy some of their personal interests during the workday. These can help your team members recharge throughout the day, perform better at work, and have more time for other interests outside of work.

But work-life integration can sometimes come at a cost to work-life balance. For example, team members who take personal calls during the workday may feel more compelled to answer work emails after hours. Team members who work at companies with amenities like personal chefs or a gym might feel like they never leave the office. Be careful of these types of scenarios and take action if needed to ensure work-life balance is given the priority it deserves.


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5 Ways to Support Your Team's Work-life Balance in 2022