We hear it everywhere now – "What hours do you work? How much time do you have for your family? Do you have to work from home a lot?"
Work-life balance is on the minds of most workers, especially in the United States, which is one of the only developed countries that does not mandate paid vacation, and even those employees that receive paid vacation find it difficult to get away from work for a few days, (TradePost, 6/2/12). As a manager or business owner, you must be prepared for your team to have a life outside of work, and you should coordinate your team's schedules and tasks so your business needs are being met while their personal ones are as well. We have some questions to ask yourself when implementing a plan to help your team with work-life balance.
- Is everyone on your team allocated an equal amount of work? It is true that some employees work faster than others, so not every one of your team members will have the same amount of work to do. However, making sure that everyone has a comparable amount of work will help you decide if you need to reallocate job duties. If anyone on your team seems to be staying late constantly, or if one of them mentions continuing work once they go home, find out if there is another person on your team with room in his or her schedule to take on an extra task or two.
- Could YOU complete all of Johnny's work in 40 hours? Ask yourself if you think Johnny does a reasonable amount of work in the allotted time. If you look at his Outlook calendar and To Do list and understand why he needs to stay 2 hours late each night, it might be time to lighten his load. Ask Suzie to help, or ask them to collaborate to get the work done faster.
- Do you send your team home when they are there later than you, or allow them to continue working? Sometimes noticing that you have an employee or two that always seems to be there late is important. When you leave, go by their desks and ask them to pack up and go home if it is not urgent. This may slightly push back a couple of deadlines, but it will pay off in the long run, as your employees will feel better about working with you and your company and will be happy to dedicate longer hours when absolutely necessary.
- Do you take advantage of your harder or faster workers? You have a few people on your team that you can always count on to get something done, even if it is above and beyond what they normally do. For whatever reason, Angie is anxious to help out. This is great, and she should be rewarded and appreciated! However, please take care to catch yourself when making special requests. Give Angie a break and ask Mark to take care of an extra task if he is available. It may not be quite up to Angie's level, but it will help him learn and grow as an employee, as well as cut Angie some slack.
- Do members of your team have families? This is a trick question! Whether or not you are aware of your team's outside commitments and family obligations, this should not dictate the amount of work you give to each of your staff members. It also should play no part in how much time they spend at the office or at home working. Remember that everyone deserves the same chance at relaxing during their off-time. This is especially dangerous during the holidays. Some employees may not have children to go home to, but they may have other commitments, so give everyone the same opportunity at balancing work with their busy lives!
Readers: What is your number one tip for work-life balance?