July 2015 Newsletter

How to Bring a Healthier Work-Life Balance to Your Organization
(Start by Answering These 8 Questions)

I don’t know about you, but I always look forward to the Fourth of July. Especially the fireworks.

This year they were exceptional. The weather was wonderful. Not too hot, not too cold. The mosquitoes were down. People were joyful. Families were together. And the display was particularly spectacular.

I like to think of the Fourth of July and all its festivities as the beginning of summer and yet it’s more like summer’s pinnacle.

In fact, and please don’t think I’m a Debbie Downer, there’s a feeling in the air that summer is on the way out despite the hot sultry weather we’re experiencing as I write this.

Mostly, I think, this is because after the Fourth attention turns to the State Fair and the start of school. Yes, newscasters the other evening already reported “back-to-school” sales.

All this — I mean families together on the Fourth and how fleeting our Minnesota summers are — got me to thinking about work-life balance and what you do or could do to ensure that your employees can take advantage of summer before it’s over.

More to the point: what you do or can do year-round to fight the tendency for work to dominate your employees’ lives.

It’s probably not news to you that studies have shown too much work can lead to a variety of illnesses due to stress. It can sap an employee’s energy, make him or her more prone to errors, burnout, absenteeism and turnover.

On the other hand, you might be among the many employers who wrestle with work-life balance and what to do about it.

You’re not unusual, although that’s not good, either.

There are certain things — starting with determining what works for you and your employees — you can do to put life in balance with work at your organization.

So here are eight helpful questions — and many bonus questions — you can start with in looking for work-life balance for your organization:

  1. Do you fully support work-life balance for your employees?
    Support for work-balance is critical if it’s to become ingrained in your company culture.
    Further, this support must come from the top.
    Does it? Or is there a perception in your company that hard work is the only way to rise in the organization?
    Do your top executives set examples of good balance and make it clear that they expect the same from all employees?
    Do you hold seminars on work-life balance? Along with showing management support for the idea, seminars can help employees understand the importance of work-life balance and find ways to achieve it. They can also teach how to manage workloads, eliminate unproductive work habits, get sufficient exercise and negotiate more flexible work conditions.

  2. Do you set priorities?
    Without priorities, employees tend to overwork because they think everything must be done “now.”
    Setting priorities, on the other hand, allows workers to schedule tasks.

  3. Do you encourage employees to leave work at work?
    Frequently taking work home blurs the line between work and home life. Do you limit how often employees take work home?

  4. Do you allow time off from work?
    When it comes to giving employees a break you sometimes need go beyond simply allowing vacations and use of sick-leave time to fostering them.
    Do you have use-it-or-lose-it policies that encourage employees to take time off when necessary?
    Do you have formal leave policies that cover caring for sick children or elderly parents?
    Do you provide paid leave for child births or adoptions? (This option is almost always less expensive than a burned out employee or replacing an employee who leaves the company.)

  5. Do you have a flextime policy? 
    Many jobs lend themselves to flexible work scheduling. Have you identified them and established formal policies to accommodate flexible schedules?

  6. Are you open to job sharing?
    Perhaps two of your workers would like to work part-time and share the workload of one job. Are you willing to accommodate them? If so, you will likely keep two valuable workers and reduce stress from work.

  7. Do you give employees the opportunity to telecommute?
    Telecommuting or working from home or another location outside the office offers several benefits. For one thing, it cuts down on unproductive commuting time. For another, it might allow an employee to take care of a sick or dependent family member and still work. And last it reduces stress. 

    The benefits of telecommuting aren’t all for the employee, however. Studies show that telecommuters can be 30 percent more productive than their office-bound coworkers.

  8. Do you bring work to life?
    You bring work to life by bringing life to work.
    I confess. This sentence isn’t mine. It comes directly from a book title, Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work, by Tracy Brower. The book is a guide, providing strategies for building and implementing work-life supports in the workplace. I suggest you take a look at it for ideas about how to bring your workplace to life.
    Meanwhile, though not from the book, here’s one simple idea: Participating in “bring-your-kids-to-work day” is one way to get families involved in your employees’ work lives.

Making the changes these questions suggest won’t be easy. Change is never easy. But most companies need to take steps beyond promoting work-life balance policies during interviews, employee orientations and in handbooks. They need to promote them year round. 

What better time to start than summer.

So try this:
Start out the second half of the year with a summer picnic.

Or, take your employees to a ballgame. (What about a trip to Target Field to watch the Twins? Woo-hoo!  As of this writing, they’re in second place in the American League east with a 49-40 win-loss record. Or maybe take in a Saints game at their new CHS Field in St. Paul. The Saints are up 16.5 games in their league.)

Or you might go on a fishing trip.

Or to an amusement park.

Can you think of another way to demonstrate to your employees that it’s OK for all of you to live a little?

See you at the ballpark!

Your Solution Toolbox: Identifying Employees with a Knack for Finding a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Of course, an organization isn’t fully responsible for an employee’s work-life balance. Much if not most of this responsibility falls to employees as well.

So in hiring a candidate for your organization, what competencies strike you as critical for success to finding and managing a healthy work-life balance?

These immediately come to my mind:
 Stress tolerance
 Ability to delegate
 Positive outlook

But, you ask, how can I determine whether a candidate or employee possesses these qualities and abilities?

With assessments.

Pardon me as I shamelessly promote Profiles International products: With Profiles International you’ll find a variety of products to fit a variety of needs. Further, you can tailor some specifically for you. Beyond this, they fit just about anyone's budget.

Now here are two that can help you find employees who are adaptable, who tolerate stress, who are able to delegate and who come to work daily thinking positively:

If you would like more information about the ProfileXT™, the Performance Indicator™, or any of Profiles International’s assessments, call me today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to mgorski@mgassessments.com.

HR Consulting
Call me, too, if you are looking for professional assistance with your personnel questions. We’ll help you learn how to:

Let's Talk! We offer a no-obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures and practices. This may help determine what's missing in your current programs. Again, call 952-322-3330 or send an email to mgorski@mgassessments.com.

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