There’s an old saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Not to mention Jill, a dull girl. And dull workers means low productivity and unhappy clients. Low productivity and unhappy clients mean a sad bottom line. There is a link between too much work and a variety of stress ­related illnesses that sap workers’ vitality, making them more prone to errors on the job, absenteeism, burnout and turnover. But how do you keep your staff happy, pro­ductive and mentally engaged? Supporting the ideal work/life balance is critical, and that support must come from the top. Employees can work them­selves sick trying to prove they are worthy of advancement or simply continued employment if there have been staff reductions in the company. Company leaders need to set a good example of work/life balance and make sure their employ­ees know they are expected to do the same.

Tip: Set priorities for all work. When you are vague in your expectations, employees can fall into the trap of overworking and neglecting other areas of their life to get everything done at once. Setting priorities allows work­ers to schedule tasks over a reasonable time.

Keep your staff upskilled

An employee who is not able to use new software or machinery effi­ciently can find themselves work­ing longer hours to get the work done. Training on how to use the new piece of equipment could, not only save you time and money through better productivity but will give you a happier employee. Don’t confine your training to equipment. Train your team leaders and managers to recognise over­work and burn out. When they are trained, team leaders can soon recognise increasing error rates, absenteeism and signs of stress-related burnout more eas­ily than anyone else in the organi­sation and act accordingly. Remember, employees who have let their work/life balance get out of hand are often unable to correct it themselves and need help. Scheduling a seminar on the importance of work/life balance can help get the message across to your employees that their work/life balance is important to you as an employer. Employees can feel guilty about taking holidays or sick leave espe­cially if there have been staff lay­offs, or they have heard the busi­ness is facing some challenges. Make it clear to your staff that taking holidays or sick leave is important – not just for their own health but for the health of the whole business. Some companies allow employ­ees to take days off for community service. This has a double advantage in that it helps businesses ful­fill their corporate responsibility commitments while encourag­ing their staff to take time out for other mentally rejuvenating activities.

Be proactive in promoting work-life balance in your workplace

Consider what you can offer as part of an employment contract. Many workers now look at these benefits as much as, if not more than, the dollar value of their contract. The old Manukau City Council had a regular weekly on-site massage programme – part of an award-winning programme managed by their health & safety manager. Michelle Le Gassick from on­site massage specialists LiVevo said this was becoming increasingly popular.  “Companies either pay for it or allow employees time off to receive a massage,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll offer vouch­ers for the massage as an incentive, or offer a free massage to a new employee as a welcome. The employee is then able to get another massage which they pay for them­selves when we visit. It works really well.” Compensation days can work well too if the nature of your business allows it. After a particularly busy period, reward your employees with a comp day. Let them go away somewhere and recover. Not only does it show how much you appreciate their efforts and the sacrifices they’ve made, it increases the chances they’ll voluntarily pitch in for the next big project. Flexibility is essential in today’s world where both parents work, and melded families often have numerous schedules they need to take into account. If employees can adjust their hours or telecommute once in a while, they’ll be happier at work and at home. Time off for spe­cial occasions is always greatly appreciated. If you can afford to, give your employees time off on their birthdays, religious holidays or other special occasions. This can be a very cost-effective way to support­ your employees and gain their loyalty.

By Angelique Jurd. Reproduced for educational purposes.