Finding and maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for success and happiness. Doing so does not sound so difficult in theory – work your set hours, then after you leave the office, make time for leisure activities and other obligations. But, for the average worker, it is not so simple. Sometimes you have to work late or work a weekend to finish a project by deadline. Sometimes you have to travel for the job or attend conferences, trainings, or after-hours events – cutting into that precious leisure time. Sometimes you just have a long, stressful day, and then when you are finally done with work, you don’t have an interest in that yoga class or grocery trip you had planned.
When looking for a job, consider a company that promotes employee health and well-being. Living a balanced lifestyle results from effort by both the employer and the employee. Employers should acknowledge that sometimes odd or long hours are required, but also reassure employees that their time and health is valued. An employee that has time to re-charge and take a break to enjoy activities outside of the workplace will be much more productive while on the job. And while on the job, workers should have the necessary components to succeed.
What your workplace should provide for you
Give employees the necessary tools to do their job efficiently and effectively. Today, this means mobility. With 77% of Americans owning smartphones, giving employees workplace tools that can be accessed from their mobile phones is vital. This could be an app to access the company intranet, even when not on-site. Or it could be connecting several tools together for streamlined use and sharing with colleagues in different locations. Think about the mobility that people have for their everyday life – they can access their email, connect with social networks, and track their health – all from their phone. Giving access to workplace systems makes sense in helping employees get their work done. This is especially helpful for employees that are not always in the office – maybe they are attending a conference or meeting with clients. Allowing mobile access means they can still get other job functions done instead of getting backed up while they are away.
A positive workplace promotes flexibility, and this can mean different things for each company, depending on the industry. Some jobs can be done completely remotely with the same great results, even for jobs that didn’t seem to have that capability before. As long as the employee has a good internet connection, a device to access it, and an intranet or other collaboration system to work on projects, work can be done from anywhere. Having less or no commute time, and the ability to work at hours that are best for you, allows more time to complete job functions and increases productivity and efficiency. Some people need to work early in the day, while others are most focused in the evening. Having the ability to work from home shows an employer trusts its employees – if letting employees have flexible hours and location means a company will see its best work, this is an obvious option to add.
Employers can utilize different tools and offer many perqs and incentives, but arguably the most important is having leadership that is present. Employees take cues from managers, executives and other colleagues, and if these people are not fully engaged or do not show an interest in others, the outcome is lack of engagement and productivity across the company. Making sure leaders take interest in their employees is an easy way to make life at work more enjoyable, and employees know where they stand and what is expected. Feeling comfortable to talk with others openly and honestly is essential to a positive workplace, and allows employees to raise questions or concerns as needed.
What you can do
While mobility, flexibility and open communication are all important for work-life balance, other things can be done both inside and outside of work to promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The Mayo Clinic compiled a list of tips for better time management and making sure self-care is a priority. Putting yourself and your health first is not always easy, but by recognizing the importance of a healthy work-life balance and making strides to achieve this, you are on track to succeed.
Some easy ideas for improving work-life balance include planning out your week and making lists of tasks to prioritize your time. Additionally, finding an activity that you enjoy and can do multiple times a week is important for relieving stress. This could be watching your favorite show, taking a walk or bike ride, or meeting a friend for coffee. Whatever works to take a break from the busy lifestyle and focus on yourself for a minute should be a very important part of your week. So take a breath, make a plan, and stick to it as best you can – your work and the rest of your life will be better off for it.
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