When workplaces closed during the pandemic, a significant shift took place in not just where we work but how we work and when we work. While remote work offered some additional flexibility (admit it, you’ve done laundry between Zoom calls!), many employees ended up working longer hours, socializing less, sitting more, and letting work creep into their daily lives.
This blurring of work-life boundaries has left employees at higher risk of overwhelming stress. As the modern workforce faces alarming rates of mental health issues, heavier workloads, and little time off, more than 2 in 5 workers report feeling more burned out than they were before the pandemic.
So, how can you help your employees achieve a healthy work-life balance?
Lead By Example
Better work-life balance starts with employers. Workplace leaders must go beyond simply encouraging employees to strive for balance; they must demonstrate that they’re practicing what they preach.
This top-down approach doesn’t just refer to your C-suite—it also includes managers. Ask team leaders to engage in and talk about healthy behaviors that lead to an optimal work-life balance. When managers take vacation days, avoid sending emails outside regular working hours, work flexible hours when childcare or family needs arise, and take movement breaks throughout the workday, they’re sending a strong message about making time for self-care to employees. Not only will your people start striving for better balance, but they’ll also be less stressed about maintaining impossibly high expectations, will avoid working to the point of burnout, and will be able to bring their best work to the table.
Emphasize the Importance of Boundaries
It doesn’t matter if your employees work onsite, practice hybrid working, or are fully remote—we’re all susceptible to the “always-on” work culture. Nearly 3 in 10 employees report regularly working long hours or on weekends, heightening the risk of burnout.
By reminding your people to establish firm boundaries that best fit their personal needs, you’re showing your workforce that your organization truly prioritizes health and wellbeing. Supporting employees in their efforts to maintain productivity and good mental health means allowing them the freedom to set boundaries that work best for their job functions and working styles. Whether it’s adhering to the appropriate start and end times to their workdays, engaging in a healthy daily routine, creating a dedicated workspace if working remotely, or putting aside time for self-care, giving your people the flexibility to practice what’s best for them will lead to better harmony between their time at work and their time at home.
Establishing a culture of health and wellbeing at work is a full-time job. Get ready to welcome the Chief Wellness Officer to the C-Suite.
Encourage Employees to Tap into Their Emotions
To help employees maintain the equilibrium between work and life outside of work, it’s essential that they understand their own early signs of burnout. Everyone has different capacities for stress, unique responsibilities, and varying workloads, so the risk and warning signs of burnout will not be the same across your workforce. For example, some may experience irritability or lose the ability to focus at work, while others might lose sleep or become depressed. Regardless of how burnout presents itself, slowing down before one reaches the point of total disengagement is critical.
Ask stressed-out employees to spend a few minutes reflecting on the things that are causing them stress at work and what they can do to change their situation. This introspection might inspire a productive conversation with their manager, who can help them reprioritize or divvy up their workload as needed. Part of this is also acknowledging one’s own emotions as they relate to work. Known as emotional reflexivity, this emotional self-awareness “is essential in order to determine the changes you want to make in your work and in your life.”
Instill a Culture of Health & Wellbeing
Online workout classes. Mental health days. Team social hours. All these initiatives can help organizations promote employee wellbeing and work-life balance, but they might not be suitable for everyone. By failing to address each individuals’ health and wellbeing needs, you increase the risk of burnout, social isolation, disengagement, and poor health outcomes across your entire workforce.
That’s where a highly personalized holistic employee wellbeing platform with global capabilities can help. Virgin Pulse’s Homebase for Health® offers a wealth of features to keep employees connected and with your organization’s benefits and communications, including a library of wellbeing tips and resources, healthy habit-tracking tools, integrated partner offers, virtual wellbeing challenges, and more. It’s the perfect digital tool for creating a culture of wellbeing, designed to help all members of your workforce achieve optimal physical, mental, and social health so they can feel and perform their best, no matter where they are.