Here is a guide to work-life balance ideas and tips.
Work-life balance ideas are ways to increase happiness at home and work. Employees who do not feel a balance between their work and home life are less productive and more likely to leave jobs. These tips will help team members feel balanced and appreciated at work. Understanding this concept is necessary because being productive at work depends upon how satisfied employees are in the office and at home.
This article covers:
- work-life balance tips for employees
- work-life balance tips for managers
- work-life balance ideas for companies
- creative work-life balance ideas
Let’s get started.
Work-life balance tips for employees
1. Offer Flexibility
One of the best work-life balance tips for employees is to offer a flexible work schedule. In many cases, a hybrid schedule where team members are in the office some days while at home others is doable and beneficial. Employees appreciate a work environment where they feel trusted to get work done. When given the flexibility to work from home or in the office, team members can be productive on their schedules.
2. Encourage Breaks
A fantastic way to increase productivity and enhance work-life balance is to ensure employees take regular breaks. These breaks should take the form of small rests throughout the workday. Taking a daily break can be as simple as going for a 15-minute walk after lunch. Or, the respite can come in the form of working from another area of the office, perhaps a break room or conference room.
Check out this list of break room ideas.
3. Encourage Altruism
Volunteering is one of the best work-life balance tips that benefit both employees and the community. Many modern job-seekers rate volunteering and social responsibility as important factors when considering potential companies. You can encourage team members to find personal causes or choose a communal cause for the entire office. Either way, devote workdays throughout the year to serving your community. If employees have dedicated work time to volunteer, then they will not have to give up their weekend time to make a difference. Furthermore, this initiative will show team members that altruism is a priority to the company.
4. Allow Time Off
Many times, employees do not use all their vacation or sick days. You can create an environment where employees are comfortable taking their time off. This step can drastically increase work-life balance. When team members know a superior will not punish them for taking an afternoon off to go to the doctor or visit their sick mom, they will be more dedicated to the company and likely to work harder when in the office.
Team members earn these days, and PTO is often part of the pay package. The benefit of encouraging employees to use personal days is that the company can anticipate and prepare for a staff shortage, rather than employees calling off randomly due to burnout. With this approach, employers can spread leave out among employees so that only a few team members are out at a time. If team members know they are free to take their time off throughout the year, then there may be fewer requests for the same time around holidays or events. Giving employees the freedom to leave may also decrease resentment, as well.
5. Encourage Hobbies
Hobbies are unique and meaningful activities that can serve as an outlet for creativity and stress reduction. By encouraging employees to find and maintain a hobby, you can help increase worker satisfaction and reduce stress.
To help team members find hobbies, ask experts or hobbyists to give brief presentations at team meetings. For example, invite a pastry chef to host a cake decorating class or a woodworker to teach a tutorial on wood carving. Then, encourage team members to take time each week to focus on hobbies. You can even have a Slack channel for coworkers to share progress.
Work-life balance tips for managers
1. Lead by Example
Leading by example is the first and most crucial work-life balance tip for managers. Generally, managers set the tone for the office. From work hours to attitude, managers inspire employees to set boundaries. If managers stay late most nights or email after-hours, then team members will follow suit. If managers strike a successful work-life balance, then employees will mimic these behaviors.
2. Time Off
One way to continually improve companywide work-life balance is to reconsider your current company vacation policy. Perhaps team members could have more days off in a calendar year, or one Friday a month could be free. Often, employees hoard personal time. Team members are sometimes scared to take time off or do not feel like they have the time. Not allowing vacation days to carry over from one year to the next will encourage employees to take necessary time off and prevent burnout.
3. Ask the Employees
As a manager, one of the best ways to encourage work-life balance is to talk with your employees. Many times, managers fail into habits and fail to consider other options. However, employees are an untapped resource for ideas to streamline work. Therefore, it is important to create a safe environment where team members feel comfortable giving managers honest feedback. By remaining receptive to criticism and open to change, you can streamline work and ensure you give everyone the tools to be the most efficient workers possible.
4. Check for Differences
Each team member has different work styles and preferences. For example, some employees prefer starting work later in the day and working into the evening. Other teammates do not mind long hours a few days of the week for free Fridays. Perhaps some team members want to go part-time. As a manager, getting to know your employees and understanding differences can help create the most productive work environment. The best way for companies to keep high-caliber employees is to ensure a good work-life balance. Open and honest conversations and acknowledging differences in needs is an essential first step to ensuring good team members want to stay.
5. Organize the Day
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your employees is to organize the day efficiently. For example, encourage all team members to focus on independent work in the morning. During this time, employees can be at their desks, focusing on tasks that need undivided attention. Then, in the afternoon, block times for meetings. By allowing different times for individual and cooperative work, teammates can focus on accomplishing tasks without disruptions.
6. Review Workloads
It is essential to review the workloads of individual team members or departments. Tasks can build up over time, and bottlenecks and burdens emerge. Sometimes, workloads increased over time or despite employee protests. By reconsidering the division of work, you can help reduce stress and increase productivity. For example, if you assigned one task to a specific department but expanded parameters, then you can re-delegate duties to a different group.
Work-life balance ideas for companies
1. Set Boundaries
One of the most helpful work-life balance ideas for companies is to set boundaries with clients. Every business person has heard the saying, the client is always right. While companies should do all they can to meet client needs, setting limits is critical. Employees need to feel comfortable saying no to particular tasks or not responding outside of business hours. A simple conversation at the beginning of the relationship or a reminder during busy times will help clients manage expectations.
2. Dedicated Hours
Although it might seem counterintuitive, longer hours do not necessarily equal more productivity. In fact, studies have shown the opposite result. As a company, set dedicated work hours each day. By encouraging employees to clock out or sign off at a specific time, you set deadlines for work. Often, if team members feel they can work on things off and on throughout the evening, then they are less productive during the day. On the other hand, having a hard stopping point to the workday encourages employees to finish their work and enjoy their evenings.
3. Consider Families
Dual-working families are here to stay. Many families rely on two incomes. Being aware of this fact and having policies to support working parents will go a long way for productivity and satisfaction. Depending on your company policies, consider offering split shifts, work-from-home options, childcare stipends, and encouraging parents to leave on time. Parents will appreciate these policies and likely will work harder during the day.
4. Daily Check-In
Whether your company operates in person, hybrid, or remote, a daily check-in for all employees is beneficial. This check-in allows team members to understand current happenings in other departments. These touch-bases also encourage interaction, can increase productivity, and develop relationships. This meeting can be as short as ten minutes or longer if time allows. After the meeting, employees can resume work as usual.
Check out this set of employee check-in questions.
5. Set Clear Expectations
One of the best work-life balance ideas for companies is to set clear and sustainable expectations. This practice can mean different things depending on how the company functions. You can consider ideas like daily, weekly, or monthly checklists or stand-up meetings. Or use productivity apps. Employees who understand the full scope of expectations can easily focus on the most pressing tasks. However, be careful to avoid multi-tasking or over-scheduling.
6. Do Not Get Overzealous
Wanting to find the most efficient ways to operate is noble. However, occasionally in the pursuit of optimization, companies do not devote the appropriate amount of time and resources to new processes. It is necessary to give new methods proper time to settle and for employees to learn the steps so that you can measure impact effectively. Instead, some companies constantly switch systems and confuse or exhaust employees. Be sure to work with employees and managers to change the processes that are not productive, and leave promising processes intact. If it is not broken, do not fix it.
Creative work-life balance ideas
1. Measure Impact, Not Hours
In today’s modern world, organizations should measure productivity in impact, not in hours spent. Historically, employees worked a set schedule, often physically clocking in and out. Today, this rigid schedule is causing burnout in many industries. Measuring the success of a team member based on the quality of work rather than hours logged will allow flexibility and decrease stress. By not obsessing on hours, employees will put in the extra time when needed knowing there are times to work fewer hours.
Planning office half-days can increase satisfaction. Encouraging employees to get out of their cubicles or office for part of a day is beneficial. You can schedule a certain number of half days a month where team members work in the office until lunch and then finish afternoon tasks elsewhere. Be sure to set firm boundaries on tasks team members need to complete before signing out for the day.
3. Trust Employees
Trusting employees may seem like an obvious idea. Giving team members space and time to finish tasks without interference can increase work-life balance. Be sure to set clear expectations and ensure teammates meet required milestones. As long as employees complete assignments on time, give workers the space and discretion to perform the job as they see fit.
It is no secret that physical exercise causes the body to release happiness-causing endorphins. While many folks struggle to find time to work out during the day, there are easy ways to incorporate activity into the workday. For example, schedule short meetings outside while walking instead of at a coffee shop or plan a yoga session instead of a lunch meeting. As a company, consider offering standing desks. Or grant employees access to an on-campus or nearby gym. Encouraging team members to focus on physical health will increase work-life balance. You can also use this tactic with clients. For example, consider a game of golf or pickleball for a meeting instead of normal office space.
5. Offer Perks
If your company has the ability, then consider offering special perks to employees. For instance, free or subsidized gym memberships, company cars, fuel discounts, in-office massages, or dry cleaning discounts. These experiences and services can show employees you care about their well-being, and improve team members’ quality of life. These gestures focus on increasing their work-life balance and satisfaction.
Here are examples of work perks.
6. Include Families
Including families in the work environment can help employees feel seen and appreciated. This approach also shows team members that the company values families and focuses on the importance of family time. Consider hosting family events, like picnics, movie nights, or “bring your kid to work” days. Including families in work events or during work days allows team members to bridge their professional and personal worlds in a meaningful way.
7. Consider Work Environment
In today’s world, remote and hybrid work models are common. If your company is entirely or mostly in the office, then consider the possibility of going at least partially remote. Many employees report higher levels of satisfaction in remote environments, and many companies report increased productivity. Encouraging a hybrid model can help increase contentment and reduce employee stress.
Check out this sample work from home policy.
Maintaining work-life balance is essential to preventing burnout and reducing stress in employees. Sometimes, team members feel professional output is more important than personal well-being. Such employees are at risk for excessive stress and resentment. Encouraging employees to focus on mental and physical health while setting clear boundaries for work helps workers feel more satisfied and improves the long-term health of the organization and its workforce.
We also have a list of virtual stress relief ideas for teams.