Some people dismiss work-life balance as an impossible dream, but the fact is that it’s never been more important to help employees manage their stress and health. Studies have shown that enforcing and encouraging balance in the work place can lead to many positive results for employees and for production. In fact, one study of 50,000 employees around the world by the Corporate Executive board found that those who believed they have a good work-life balance worked 21% harder. In addition to productivity gains, employees who maintain balance have lower medical costs and less absenteeism. Companies enjoy lower turnover rates, which further improves productivity and cuts costs.
With all the benefits of a healthy work-life balance in mind, it’s also important to keep in mind the priorities of today’s workforce. On top of the poor health and well-being that overwork can encourage, there’s a generational divide when it comes to work-life balance. Older Americans are used to working a lot and have been conditioned to deny their own needs. Younger workers, on the other hand, want more freedom and balance in their working lives. Companies need to adapt to meet generational changes and keep employees healthy and happy. So how can your company encourage employees to find that all-important balance? Here are 5 ways to implement health and wellness initiatives in your office.
- Offer employees flexibility
Rush hour traffic, long commutes, and different sleep schedules mean that many employees walk into the office frustrated and stressed out at 9 AM. Instead of demanding that everyone stick to the standard office hours, consider offering your employees more flexibility. Allowing people to work from home, set their own hours (within reason) and maximize their time sends a powerful message. Not only does it allow your employees more control over their own lives, it shows that you trust your people to get their work done without looking over their shoulder constantly. Flexibility means people can meet both professional and personal expectations without having to stress about their status in the office.
- Implement integrative care
Health isn’t just limited to going to the doctor when you’re sick. It also means taking preventative measures and caring for both mental and physical well-being. More and more hospitals are moving toward integrative care because we’re beginning to see how different aspects of our health can affect one another. For example, stress can trigger a number of serious physical health problems.
You can help employees implement integrative care into their own lives in a number of ways. Weekly yoga sessions, gym reimbursement, nutrition information sessions, ensuring that your health plan covers mental healthcare—all of these are great ways to help your employees balance their mental, emotional, and physical health, and reduce problems that affect their lives in all areas.
- Have team bonding activities and events
Your employees spend a lot of time at work, and connecting with coworkers can help them feel a sense of community and support in the office. Try scheduling regular team bonding activities and events. Some of these can be team-building activities, but don’t forget to work in some that are just plain fun. Building relationships between employees can increase morale, engagement, and productivity, as well as improving the individual’s sense of well-being.
- Encourage regular vacations and breaks
It’s surprising how easy it is to get addicted to work, and to the need to make money. Some people simply don’t feel like they can stop and take time for themselves, while others are worried that they’ll be judged, reprimanded, or even let go for taking vacations and time off. Have a policy that promotes regular days off, vacations, and time to stop working. Don’t promote the common rhetoric that it’s noble to work 24/7—that attitude is harmful and does no one any favors.
- Hold educational workshops
Most people won’t seek out self-development or growth. They may not even understand why they need to work on their work-life balance. As an employer, you can get the ball rolling and get people interested in bettering their lives, health, and well-being. Bring in educators to your workplace, hold workshops, and explore ways you can add value to your company and employees through education.
Create a Positive Work Environment
Creating an environment where people enjoy a healthy work-life balance truly is one of those rare win-win situations. The employees benefit from a more positive, community based workplace where they can trust one another and their employers, live a healthy lifestyle, and juggle their priorities. The employers benefit from higher productivity, engagement, and morale, while decreasing absenteeism, turnover, and cutting costs. Writing off health and wellness initiatives as too expensive is just shortsighted.
Balance in the work place allows people to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and creates more overall happiness. By keeping people satisfied, and helping them meet their needs, they can show up better, and enjoy working more. A satisfying work-life balance is something we all need in life—and it can make a huge difference.
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.