Employee Wellness: Time Management for Improved Work-Life Balance
Date Published: Aug 31 , 2022
More companies are embracing employee wellness strategies to benefit not only workers, but the organization as a whole. Since employee wellbeing is tied to worker engagement and productivity, employee wellness plans build stronger organizations by working in the best interests of employees.
Employee wellbeing programs have taken on heightened significance in recent years with workers experiencing elevated levels of stress related to the pandemic and as they transition to shifting working arrangements, such as hybrid and remote work. The blurring of professional and personal time has been a major stressor for employees for years, and has only accelerated as the compartmentalization of work life and private life further breaks down due to increasing numbers of work-from-home employees.
There is a long list of issues tied to employee wellbeing. Here we review one aspect: time management for improved work-life balance. Below are seven strategies that help employees manage their time for reduced stress and a harmonious work-life.
Time Management for Improved Work-Life Balance at a Glance:
1. Encourage regular breaks throughout the workday
2. Allow for “do not disturb time” so employees can focus
3. Establish boundaries around working hours
4. Respect employee time off
5. Limit PTO carryover
6. Allow for time off for important life events
7. Set the example of a healthy work-life balance
1. Encourage Regular Breaks Throughout the Workday
Taking breaks throughout the workday has a number of benefits. Regularly stepping away from work reduces stress, decreases errors, and boosts productivity, creativity and engagement.
Rather than powering straight through hours of work, encourage employees to take a break as spending less time in front of the monitor actually equates to more work getting done in the long run. They can set break reminders using their calendar or other applications specifically made for this purpose. Ideally, workers should take a break every 90-120 minutes, since this is how long the brain can stay focused before it needs a rest.
2. Allow for “Do Not Disturb” Time for Focused Employees
The culture within some organizations and working groups expects workers to be ever ready for spontaneous discussions, meetings or requests. This can be problematic for productivity, especially for certain forms of work, such as data analysis and writing, which require deep, uninterrupted thinking. Distractions when completing such tasks can drastically reduce the quality of the work product or its completion in a timely manner.
When employees need to work on such tasks, give them the opportunity to schedule “do not disturb” time where they can silence their phones, direct messages and emails. If they work in an open office setting or noisy cubicle, offer private workspaces where employees can go to focus.
3. Establish Boundaries Around Working Hours
In today’s work environment, team members do not always work during the same set of office hours, whether due to flexible schedules, different time zones, or hybrid or remote work settings. This can contribute to employees working outside of their schedule, or feeling obligated to do so.
Studies show that both performing work tasks at all hours, or interpreting this to be an expectation, greatly increases stress. Help employees with their time management for improved work-life balance by setting clear guidelines on what are considered working hours, and limit emails and calls only to working hours unless it is truly urgent.
4. Respect Employee Time Off
In addition to putting boundaries around employees’ non-working hours, employees’ personal time off should also be respected and preserved. Establish the standard that when an employee is out of the office for vacation, personal time or sickness, they should not be contacted unless it is an emergency. Allow employees to create automated reply emails saying they are out and have limited access to email. In essence, time off should really be time off.
5. Limit PTO Carryover
All employees need some rest and relaxation in the form of a vacation. This invigorates them so they return to work with renewed clarity, composure and creativity. Limit how much PTO workers can carry over each year to encourage them to take the vacations that they need for workplace productivity and personal wellbeing.
6. Allow for Time Off for Important Life Events
All of us at some time or another will face important life events that require a leave of absence from work. Governmental leave requirements and your company’s PTO may not give employees enough time to address events like:
● Caring for a sick family member
● A baby born with complications
● The loss of a family member
● Attending extended education courses
● Obtaining a degree
Working in good faith with employees when they face such challenges so they receive the time off they need goes far in improving their wellbeing and establishing trust with you as an employer. Assist them in maximizing their paid time off options when such life events arise, and offer unpaid leave when appropriate.
7. Set the Example of Time Management for Improved Work-Life Balance
There are policies an organization has on the books, and then there are the ways protocols are put into practice via company culture; the two do not always align. The actions of your organization’s leaders are constantly being observed by workers and they affect workers’ choices in how they approach a healthy work-life interface.
Ensure that your policies relating to time management for improved work-life balance are followed to the letter and in spirit by having management set the example. Supervisors should be taking regular breaks, scheduling “do not disturb” time, avoiding non-urgent emails during off-work hours, and taking vacations without responding to non-emergency emails and calls. All of this will go far in creating healthy habits enjoyed by all employees.
Nurturing employee wellbeing is paramount to developing your team’s workplace resilience. Promote an important aspect of employee wellness - time management for improved work-life balance - by establishing policies such as the seven listed above, and watch your team thrive.
Priority Management is a worldwide training company with 55 offices in 15 countries. We have successfully trained more than two million graduates in Priority workshops. Our programs help companies and people be more effective and manage their workflow in and out of the office by providing tools, processes and discipline. Simply put - A Better Way To Work! Clients range from Fortune 500 companies, small-to-medium businesses and government/military employees.
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