Work-life balance has been a hot topic for the last few years, in part, due to the climbing number of millennials entering the workforce, coupled with the advent of tech giants, where on-site arcade games, beer fridges, and free meals are the norm. Word on these buzzy perks has gotten out, and workers want in on them. Offering these kinds of things not only makes your workplace more appealing, but it’s a great way to create an environment ripe for a healthy work-life balance.
Why is work-life balance so important? Studies show that employees not only want it, but need it. Work-life balance helps workers stay healthy, both physically and mentally, and helps avoid burnout—a common occurrence among overworked employees. Also, contrary to some out-of-date thinking, just because employees work around the clock, doesn’t mean they’re actually being efficient or productive.
Keep reading for 15 tips on how to create better work-life balance for your employees.
1. Enact Flexible Scheduling
Some folks are early birds, others night owls—so why expect them all to homogenize to a standard 9-5? If your business can allow for it, consider opening up scheduling, like 7-3, 8-4, 9-5, and 10-6. This doesn’t mean employees should change it up daily, but picking a timeframe and sticking to it should make everyone happy.
2. Offer Telecommuting Options
More and more companies are offering telecommuting—and for good reason—it has been shown to actually increase employee productivity. How is that possible? For starts, there tends to be less distractions when an employee can hunker down in the comfort of their home office, skip traffic-y or long commutes, and *bonus* keep their sniffles to themselves (preventing an onslaught of office sickness making the rounds). Consider supporting one day as a pilot, though many companies offer employees the opportunity to work from home several days each week.
3. Offer Gym Memberships or Gym Equipment
Physical exercise is important not only for the body, but the mind. Encourage employees to get physical by offering a gym membership, or even a discount to one if you can’t cover the whole bill. Many health insurance plans offer discounts, too, that employees can take advantage of. If yours does, make sure they know about it! As a way to promote the program, hand out custom gym bags to get kick start momentum.
On the other hand, if you have the space for it, consider adding a small gym to your office. This may sound extravagant, but even setting aside a single conference room for a treadmill, stationary bike, and a few yoga mats is a great way to help employees exercise as part of their daily work routine. Or, make the entire office a fitness space by providing pedometers that track employee steps and other fitness stats.
4. Hold On-site Fitness Classes
Consider hosting a weekly yoga, Pilates, or other fitness class right in the office. If you really want to encourage fitness, consider holding two or three each week.
5. Encourage Comfortable Workspaces
From ergonomic desk chairs, to standing desks, there’s a ton you can do to help create comfy spaces for employees. Another idea—add plants around the office for a pop of color and improved air quality. You can also encourage employees to personalize their spaces by gifting them picture frames they can use to hold pics of their kids, pets, loved ones—memories that will make them smile on even the most stressful days.
6. Create a Meditation Space
Offering employees a space to quietly zen-out during a hectic day is a great way to allow them to re-route frustration, anxiety, or the daily chaos of company work. Whether this is something they do at-will, or a morning ritual—say, your team meets at 9:30 every day for a quick 15 meditation circle—promoting this stress-relieving activity is a perfect in-office tactic. Also, consider passing out stress balls for employees to keep on their desks to use as needed throughout the day.
7. Host On-site Chair Massages
Whether this is something you hold monthly or quarterly, trust employees will look forward to it! A luxurious mid-day treat, a chair massage is a great way to work out the tensions that build up over time—especially for employees that sit all day at a computer (AKA those ripe for shoulder and neck knots!).
8. Discourage Late Hours
Full-time employees (generally) sign on for 40 hours/week…but it’s all too common to work many more—which is no bueno for a healthy work-life balance. Encourage employees to leave the office at reasonable hours, and discourage late night and weekend emailing. Sure, sometimes it’s necessary for projects, but it shouldn’t be a long-term, regular occurrence if you want work-life balance.
9. Support Ongoing Learning
Encourage employees to stretch their minds and creativity by partaking in ongoing learning courses and certifications. How to encourage it? For starts, you can help pay for some of the fees associated with it. Or, allow employees time to study (if taking a test, etc.) as part of their work day (perhaps two hours a week).
10. Offer Family-friendly Ticketed Events
Many ticketed events provide discounts for group rates. Considering purchasing a chunk of tickets to a local sports game, ballet, or play that employees can then purchase from you at the discounted rate. This is win-win—employees get the discount and some family time, while employers make them happy, without compromising the work day (as these types of events occur at night or on the weekends).
11. Host Regular Happy Hours
Getting employees to socialize with one another outside of a project or typical workday task is a great way to improve relations around the office and have some fun. Gathering up your team to head to a local happy hour is a great way to break loose, laugh, and get to know one another in a non-work space.
12. Offer Paid Holidays
Holidays are meant to be spent with family and friends, relaxing and celebrating—not working! Offering paid holidays is a generous perk. Of course, most companies already do this, but to varying degrees. While the average is about nine, consider adding in a few more days—like July 4thand 5th, or December 25th and 26th. Lots of employees end up using their PTO to take these days off, but making it an official company holiday is a generous move employees will appreciate.
13. Encourage the Use of Time Off
Many companies offer paid time off, but that doesn’t mean employees will use it. That said, taking vacation time is an important part of creating a healthy work-life balance. Consider half-year check-ins with employees to ensure they’re using this important benefit, and consider setting a limit on roll-over days from year to year.
14. Provide Healthy Snacks
The water cooler and coffee pot may be workplace pantry staples, but consider going a step further by offering healthy snacks to go along with these beverages. Fresh fruit, granola bars, yogurt cups, and dark chocolate are a few ideas folks will not only love, but will keep them nourished through their work day.
15. Host Monthly Lunches
Lunching together is a great way to bond with colleagues in an informal setting, where you can talk about things other than projects and work tasks. Whether you take your team out to a restaurant for this meal, or simply have a few pizzas delivered to the office, employees will appreciate the gesture—and are likely to partake, because, uh, who doesn’t love free food?
We hope these ideas have got your creative juices flowing about the ways you can usher in better work-life balance with employees. Of course, you’ll need to lead by example and actually partake in whichever items you enact—but hey, from entry-level through executive leadership, work-life balance is important for everyone (yes, even you).