Join us as we unveil New York Times bestseller James Clear's groundbreaking methods for crafting habits that stick.
Register Now

How to Improve Work-Life Balance for Your Employees

Today’s workforce is grappling with high levels of stress, anxiety, and burnout, leaving many companies scrambling to figure out how to improve work-life balance for employees. We all know that when we’re feeling balanced, we’re more likely to bring our A-game to work—we’re energized, creative, and ready to tackle anything that comes our way. But the demands of modern workplaces can make employee work-life balance seem like an uphill battle. So, how can companies improve work-life balance to promote their employees’ well-being and their business’ success?

What is work-life balance?

Work-life balance is how we juggle our job and personal lives. This includes how we integrate these two worlds and how much time we can dedicate to our life outside of work. A good work-life balance allows for rest, family, hobbies, and vacations, while a poor work-life balance leaves us overworked and worn out. For workplaces, a lack of work-life balance can stifle productivity, worsen health conditions, and in turn, raise health care costs.

Benefits of work-life balance

Improving work-life balance for your employees doesn’t only fuel a healthy workplace culture, it also makes sense from a business perspective. Some benefits of work-life balance include:

  1. Builds resilience – Poor work-life balance can lead to exhaustion, stress, and coping mechanisms like substance use, while a healthy work-life balance gives people the space and support to build healthy coping skills for work challenges.
  2. Reduces absenteeism – Employees with better work-life balance are at decreased risk for health conditions and less likely to call in sick or take unplanned time off.
  3. Increases morale – Workers with a good work-life balance are happier and better able to see the positives of an organization. This can-do attitude can be contagious.
  4. Improves reputation – Companies that promote work-life balance attract top talent and gain a reputation as an employer of choice.
  5. Customer satisfaction – Satisfied, balanced employees are more likely to provide excellent customer service, leading to higher customer satisfaction rates and repeat business.
  6. Strengthens relationships – When work interferes with family time, employees are less present and focused. Better work-life balance softens the impact of work on relationships.
  7. Saves money – Improving work-life balance can save company dollars through reduced turnover, absenteeism, and healthcare expenses.

Team members with a good work-life balance are less likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety and are:

  • 38% more engaged with their work
  • 28% more likely to recommend their workplace to others
  • 10 times less hostile at work
  • 17% more likely to still work at their organization in a year
  • 18% more likely to go above and beyond for the company

On the other hand, poor work-life balance can lead to burnout, which costs companies 550 million work days in lost productivity and $190 billion in related health care costs.

In light of these risks, companies are increasingly committed to learning how to improve work-life balance for employees.

Causes of work-life imbalance

Improving work-life balance is both an employer and employee responsibility. Companies can provide workplaces that make balance possible while employees can take advantage of well-being benefits and practice self-care outside of the office.

Here are a few work-related issues that can impact work and life balance:

Unrealistic expectations

Expectations like long hours, 24/7 availability, or tight deadlines make it tough to set boundaries that promote work-life balance.

Heavy workloads

Swamped with tasks, employees may feel they need to stay glued to their desks without breaks or space to maintain work-life harmony.

Mismatched manager styles

Better work-life balance starts with managers. Without the right training, managers may harm work and life balance through behaviors like expecting around-the-clock availability or disregarding family and personal needs.

Long work hours

Working 50+ hours a week makes for a dramatic decline in productivity, yet 40% of employees are clocking these hours. And employee work-life balance is hard when workers think status, value, and promotions are tied to how much they work.

Poor work-life balance in management

When managers are struggling with their own work-life balance it can be tough to know how to improve work-life balance in employees because they don’t have the time to take a step back and reassess their teams’ priorities, workflow, and processes.

Long commutes

Long days get even longer for those with extended commutes. For employees in this situation, finding time for something other than a career can feel impossible.

Signs of poor work-life balance

How can you tell if employees have an unhealthy life-work balance? Here are a few signs of poor work-life balance:

  • Consistently working after-hours or during paid time off (PTO)
  • Anger, irritability, or mood swings
  • Complaints about relationship problems at home, or changes in eating, sleeping, or exercise habits
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive responsiveness
  • Perfectionism

If you notice any of these signs of poor work-life balance, it may be time to re-evaluate your work culture and the employee experience.

How to improve work-life balance for employees

There’s a lot employers can do to improve work-life balance for employees. Try these work-life balance strategies for employers to shift toward a culture that gives space for people to attend to both their personal and professional lives.

#1 Gather feedback

Ask employees about their life-work balance so you can build tailored solutions. This can be through regular surveys that gauge stress levels and workloads, anonymous work-life balance suggestions for employers, or one-on-one conversations.

#2 Build psychological safety

Create an environment where employees feel safe to make mistakes and suggestions and ask for help without fear of judgment or penalties. This empowers them to reach out for support when their life-work balance is off-kilter.

#3 Design work to promote work-life balance

Make sure work and resources support work-life harmony with things like:

  • Clear, attainable expectations for tasks, availability, and deadlines
  • Fair and balanced workload
  • Resources needed to complete work such as sufficient staff, tools and equipment, budget, and training
  • PTO, scheduled breaks, and no-meeting days
  • Autonomy for employees to manage their work

#4 Offer flexibility

Research shows employees are more productive when they have flexibility like the option to work remotely. Consider offering flexible hours as well—one survey found 95% of workers said this was more important than working remotely.

#5 Focus on productivity, not hours

Shift the focus from monitoring employees’ hours to assessing their productivity and task completion. Make sure you’re not inadvertently incentivizing overwork, such as only recognizing or promoting employees who work long hours.

#6 Lead by example

Sometimes better work-life balance starts with managers. Employees are more likely to set limits that if their leaders do the same. Managers and company leaders can set a healthy example by taking PTO, limiting overtime, and unplugging from work after hours.

#7 Offer training

Train managers on the signs of poor work-life balance, burnout, stress, and getting support when needed.

#8 Create a work-life balance policy

Integrate your company values into an official work-life balance policy so there’s a concrete reference and team culture and management styles are aligned.

#9 Offer comprehensive benefits

Your benefits package should include mental health care and other resources that support work-life balance.

Champion work-life balance

Understanding the effects of overwork and the most effective work-life balance strategies for employers can help you make your workplace healthier.

Lyra supports companies in achieving a healthy work-life balance

Explore our practical learning programs, engaging workshops, and helpful tools.

Learn more
By The Lyra Team
2 of April 2024 - 5 min read
Mental health at work
Share this article
Stay in touch and get the latest blogs

Take your workforce to the next level