What Does Work-​Life Balance Mean?

BY Kathy Crosett
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When the topic of work-​life balance comes up between managers and employees, many people assume the discussion will be about working from home. But not every job can be done from home. In these cases, managers can use several other tactics to improve the work-​life balance for employees. 

Goal Setting

In her analysis of Gallup’s recent poll on employee engagement, Emily Wetherell points out a strong correlation. According to Gallup data, 64% of surveyed workers who believe they can balance their personal and professional obligations also say their work goals are realistic. These findings mean, for example, that nearly 2/​3 of employees are able to meet their deadlines at work and still find time to go to the gym or to their evening art class.

It seems that having realistic performance goals strongly contributes to positive feelings about work-​life balance. Wetherell shows of the other side of the data to support that contention. The 36% of employees who struggle maintain their desired work-​life balance do not feel their work goals are realistic. These employees might be working early in the morning or late at night to complete tasks. Over time, this kind of work situation leads to stress, reduced engagement, and possibly a search for a new job.

In the Voice of the Sales Rep Survey, conducted by SalesFuel, only 35% of reps said they had realistic and obtainable goals. When you include your employees in the goal-​setting process, you increase their sense of control and their sense of work-​life balance. They want to be able to successfully perform. They want to feel a sense of accomplishment when they complete a project. Because of their experience in a specific position, they’ll also know how long it will take to do their best work.

Flexible Scheduling

Employees must be physically present for many jobs. They may be delivering orders or serving meals. They could also be health care service providers. For too long, managers and organizations have clung to the mindset that these types of employees must work a rigid schedule. This mindset makes it difficult for parents to cover childcare needs.

A good scheduling system can help organizations manage their workforce needs, while contributing to work-​life balance. For example, maybe employees would prefer to have rotating days off. Maybe some employees, with good track records, would job share. And perhaps other employees would appreciate the ability to work 12 days in a row and then take 4‑day breaks. Currently, 67% of SMBs responded positively to a Zenefits survey that asked if they offer this benefit. More importantly, 74% of employees said that the ability to have a flexible work schedule increased their satisfaction and commitment.

In this competitive economy, you don’t want to risk losing key employees. Think outside of the box and develop work-​life balance initiatives that benefit your organization and your employees.