“Work and life balance” is a buzzy phrase that is frequently bandied about by businesses and employees. That’s because everyone is trying to achieve fulfillment at work and at home. This mythical “work/life” balance is not easy to obtain. If you are an entrepreneur, start-up, or just interested in shaking up your routine, consider these four building blocks of work-life balance that any company can implement.
4. Promote Physical Activity
Neurologists who study the impact of physical activity on the brain report that being active produces dopamine, which in turn makes people more creative and better problem-solvers. Innovative companies are finding new ways to harness physical activities in their favor, while also giving employees a much needed escape from their daily grind. Some companies have experimented with having exercise rooms inside the businesses facility. Others have offered free yoga classes to employees, which they can take advantage of during the day. This benefits employees in several ways. First, employees can get some physical activity, breaking up the monotony of office life. Second, time away from screens helps reinvigorate employees’ approach to work. Third, exercising during the day while at work frees up additional time when the workers come home, meaning they can increase time spent with family.
3. Give Time Off
As great as it is to have flexible days with less time spent inside an office or plant, there is no substitute for a good vacation or days off. Employers with progressive policies on leave time offer two or three weeks of vacation up front, rather than making employees slog to the beat of burnout for two years before “earning” more vacation days. Not being physically present in the office is positive for family life and also helps stave off burnout and stimulate creativity. When employers offer sick and leave time and encourage employees to actually take it, they also reap the benefits of cross-training, allowing them to know how the workplace functions without the worker and find ways for all workers to improve their skill sets.
2. Be Pro-Parenting
Employers have traditionally been reluctant to give parents time off to tend to their kids during the work day. This is a hardship for parents, who know that there will be little things they need to deal with every day (such as a sick child, parent-teacher conferences, child activities, etc.). Rather than focusing on giving employees permission to leave work for the day, which is still helpful, the best employers have on-site day care and childcare options. Companies like American Express and Procter and Gamble have day care facilities on or near their corporate property, with plenty of “backup” childcare options for those days when workers have an unforeseen childcare dilemma.
1. Creative an Environment that is Anti-Workaholic
Tech company 37Signals.com is pioneering cutting edge trends in work-life balance. One area the company is passionate about is firing workaholics. This goes against the grain in start-up life, where many companies pride themselves on putting in an insane amount of hours. But 37Signals believes recognizing and encouraging workers who devote the most time sends the wrong message. As the company realizes, encouraging workaholics can create a system where people are only at work because they feel they have to be. Staying late out of obligation or a need to put in “face-time” is actually a productivity killer.