September 9, 2019

Amelia HerringAmelia Herring

Work-Life Balance: 7 ways HR can help employees achieve it

Work-Life Balance: 7 ways HR can help employees achieve it
Amelia HerringAmelia Herring
A workplace that encourages a healthy work-life balance is going to foster more success than one that doesn't.

Live to work, or work to live?

You’ve heard these stigmas attached with those who pour every ounce of themselves into their work or can only be fulfilled by professional achievements – and those who only see their careers as a means to an end, providing funds to support personal endeavors.

While folks who fit either stereotype certainly exist, that’s not the way it has to be. A proper work-life balance is possible, and it’s on HR to make sure your company isn’t sucking the life out of half of that equation.

Striking the right work-life balance can lead to happier workers, reduced levels of burnout, and lower stress levels – in addition to making employees less likely to have high blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia. No one’s suggesting you start offering bottomless mimosas or Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day, but a little leeway can go a long way.

So how can HR help? It starts with creating a positive work culture that encourages employees to take care of their personal lives – while still taking aim at new levels of professional success. Employees that feel at ease are more likely to stick around – and much more likely to give off positive vibes about your company in their own professional circles.

Follow these seven tactics as an HR department and your company will have a better balance from the top down.

1. Offer flexible hours

Millennials make up a large chunk of many workplaces in 2019, and one study suggests more than three-quarters of the so-called Gen Y thinks a flexible schedule would make them more productive. They’re not alone. Employees of any age have personal responsibilities that can’t all necessarily wait until the weekend. By allowing workers to design their own schedules – even for one or two days out of the week – you can help ease the burden of real life.

2. Provide remote opportunities

A recent Upwork survey revealed that an estimated two-thirds of organizations have remote employees. Despite that, a majority lack any sort of policy for remote work – so it’s up to your company to define one. Consider starting with a trial period. You can determine how remote working impacted employee productivity levels, saved your organization money, and reduced employee stress levels. Then implement a plan and stick to it.

3. Take another look at your PTO policy

LinkedIn and Netflix both paved the way toward unlimited paid time off policies, but that’s not always the answer either – it can often lead to employees thinking “how much is too much?” and not taking enough time off. Even by offering everyone another week of vacation each year and potentially capping rollover hours, you can encourage even the most devoted employees to take the time they need in the moment to reset and reboot.

4. Offer community engagement opportunities

How about some time away from the office that also fosters a supportive community culture? Community engagement opportunities offer the best of both worlds and a perfect scenario for employees to bond outside of the office. From charity work at a local food bank to supporting employees running a marathon, there are countless opportunities to promote community engagement while maintaining that work-life balance.

5. Observe holidays beyond just the biggies

If you want to boost employee morale and loyalty, consider observing additional holidays. Your office probably isn’t going to be open on July 4th, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, but think about other days that you could give back to your employees. Working parents are often stuck scrambling on school holidays like Presidents Day or Good Friday. By observing a few extra days, your organization can show that you value family and a balanced environment.

6. Promote health initiatives

One key component of work-life balance is to prioritize fitness and health – physical, mental, and emotional. Through discounts to local gym memberships, company-sponsored club sports teams, and optional classes at work, you can encourage your employees to take care of many different aspects of their well-being. Emotional support peacocks might be a bit of a stretch, but Wonderlic held a Take Your Dog to Work Day last fall that was very well retrieved.

7. Encourage short breaks throughout the day

Small breaks during the workday can be incredibly beneficial to employees’ mental and physical health. Whether it’s an afternoon Starbucks run or extended lunch hours on Fridays, there are lots of ways to help your employees feel balanced. If your workers spend most of their time in front of computers, encourage them to get up from their workstation and focus their eyes elsewhere for five minutes every hour.

The bottom line: Work-life balance creates a happier workforce

If you want to increase productivity levels, reduce stress, recruit top talent, and keep your best employees, then your HR department needs to encourage a positive work-life balance. Your entire company will be happier you did.

Katherine Rohrer, M.A., is a Human Resources Generalist at Wonderlic.

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