Despite the global fears over the coronavirus, the World Health Organization asserts that stress is one of the biggest health epidemics of the 21st century. According to one study conducted by the WHO, 80% of American workers report feeling stressed out while working, and 42% of those surveyed stated that their co-workers would benefit from an improved work-life balance. Although stress can be an excellent motivator once in a while, chronic stress can lead to employee burnout, lower productivity, and a less positive work environment.
Chris Chancey, a career expert and the CEO of Amplio Recruiting, believes that prioritizing his employees’ flexibility has been immensely helpful for his own company, as well as his team. “Employers who are committed to providing environments that support work-life balance for their employees can save on costs, experience fewer cases of absenteeism, and enjoy a more loyal and productive workforce," Chancey explains.
Whether your employees will continue working from home, gradually return to the office, or create their own hours, here’s how you can encourage each individual to choose whichever option will allow them to work effectively and efficiently.
Importance of Workplace Flexibility
During this unprecedented time of Covid-19, workplace flexibility has become the most pressing issue for employers around the world. However, many employees have realized that being able to do their job from home allows them to have greater control over when they work and how they choose to structure their workday. Ken Matos, the senior director of employment research and practice at the Families and Work Institute, explains how countless employers have made the difficult choice to give their teams more freedom and flexibility over the schedules: “They have made it a priority to grant employees access to a wider variety of benefits that fit their individual and family needs and that improve their health and well-being."
Hank Jackson, the president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, agrees that allowing employees to have flexible work schedules can pay off for employers in the long run. “As we look ahead,” Jackson says. “It is clear that in order to remain competitive, employers must find ways to offer flexible work options if they want to attract and retain top talent.”
Although a good work-life balance may look different to each individual, allowing employees to make this decision for themselves is the best way to encourage overall well-being throughout the organization. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to support the working style that best suits each individual. "Work-life balance will mean different things to different people," says Chris Chancey. "In our always-on world, balance is a very personal thing, and only you can decide the lifestyle that suits you best."
How to Support Your Employees
When you’re striving to be a supportive manager, one of the best things you can do is set a positive example for your team. For example, if you’re prone to bringing your work home with you (or, if you’re currently working from home, answering emails or phone calls when you should be sleeping or spending time with family), you can start by establishing clear boundaries about when and how you will communicate with clients and co-workers. You may choose to not answer your phone after 5 PM, or delegate a set amount of time each day to reply to emails.
Aside from being a good role model for your employees, you can help support your team by:
- Knowing the priorities of each team member. Alan Kohll, the founder and president of TotalWellness, states, “It’s important for employers to realize that work-life balance is about more than just hours. Prioritizing a healthy culture and cultivating a happy workplace environment promotes work-life balance. When employees are happy in their roles, work will feel more like a second home, and less like working for a paycheck.”
- Communicating all options. Some employees may prefer to work remotely a few days a week, whereas others may want to transition back to the office full-time, and some might want to continue working from home for the long run. Be sure to let each person know what their options are, and do your best to accommodate their preferred schedules.
- Educating employees on time management strategies. Being self-motivated and proactive comes easier to some people than others, but all employees can benefit from learning the most useful ways to manage their time throughout the day. Consider teaching your employees about popular time management techniques, such as the Pomodoro technique, or by encouraging them to use an app to track how much time they spend on specific tasks throughout the day.
Other Tips for Entrepreneurs
It can be difficult to fully “disconnect” from work even when you typically work in an office away from home. When you’re socially distant from your team and forced to work remotely, it can be even more challenging to set boundaries for yourself and stick to a healthy work-life balance.
If you’re seeking other passionate business leaders who can relate to your troubles during this time, the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) is one great resource where you can find group forums, mentorships, learning events, and social gatherings for entrepreneurs to motivate and inspire each other. The EO Minnesota chapter alone consists of 100 successful business leaders in the Twin Cities area who can provide support, valuable insights, and good company during this transition to a new normal post-coronavirus. If you’d like to see how the EO can help your business thrive, click here to begin your application!