Finding balance and keeping your health and overall wellness a priority. This is a topic that is being talked about often.
There is an increase in dual income households which has working parents looking for ways to balance being a great employee and being a great parent, all while taking care of themselves so that they can give work and family their best selves.
In the meantime, organizations continue to look for various ways to attract and retain top talent.
Many people have suggested that working 60, 70 or even 80 hours a week has become expected and even the norm, especially if you hold an executive position. I would agree with the fact that most of us typically work well over the 40-hour work week, regardless of the level or position we hold, to ensure that the job we were hired to do is getting done. And don’t forget how advanced technology enables us to be available and working anytime anywhere, whether we like it or not.
So how, as an employer, can you help your workforce stay engaged, productive, happy, and well? There are many things you can, and should, do to create an unbeatable culture – but first you should look at fairly simple and straight forward ways you can help employees find balance.
First, I think it’s important to take a look at what responsibilities are gobbling up 60 to 80 hours of your teams’ time each week to see if these hours are even necessary. The first thing that comes to my mind are meetings… lots and lots of meetings. I don’t know about you, but most meetings I have attended have been completely unproductive yet gathered everyone into a room for an hour, sometimes two, which could have been used for something more pressing or valuable to the organization. Some organizations are so meeting heavy that they cause their teams to run from meeting to meeting day in and day out often missing meals and sneaking out for bathroom breaks. At the end of an insanely busy day they have accomplished absolutely nothing vital to the organization or their specific responsibilities and goals and are further behind than when they started their day. Now they have to extend their work day in order to meet their objectives.
If organizations put rules or guidelines in place to eliminate unnecessary meetings (see the book, Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni) it could begin to minimize unproductive hours that employees are being forced to participate in leaving room for them to get their actual job done during a normal business day.
Let’s say that you have the ability to cut their meeting burden in half. That could potentially bring an 80-hour week down to a 60-hour work week. Still not ideal, but we’re making progress.
Now I ask the question (which tends to cause the most debate), does it really matter when and where the hours over typical 40 are being worked so long as the job is getting done? Does a company gain more from an employee who is onsite overtime, or can they benefit just as much (if not more) from an employee who is onsite for 40 of those hours and offsite the rest in order to find that elusive thing we call balance?
If you have two individuals who have the same position; one of them decides to leave at a decent hour to have family dinner, read bedtime stories with their children, and picks right back up after their children go to bed, and the other decides to stay at the office well into the evening to work, why is one individual valued more than the other? If the tasks are completed and goals are met or exceeded by both does it really matter where or what time the work is getting done?
What if you flipped the traditional model of “working only if you’re seen working” on its head and supported and helped your employees simply do the job you hired them to do, however they need to do it. What if you utilized technology to its fullest capabilities and allowed your most valuable asset, your people, to find balance. I’m not saying that your workforce can never be visible, I’m saying they should be at work for a reasonable amount of time but the rest of the time, they can choose to be with their families, take care of themselves, and finish their work as they see fit. With adequate performance evaluations in place and managing your people appropriately, you will know if the work is not getting done and can address as needed. Again, not being at work and work not getting done or goals not being met are two very different things.
Organizations have an incredible opportunity to recruit and retain unmatched talent by helping eliminate what unproductive time they can, loosening up the reigns, treating people with respect and trust and allowing them to do the job they were hired to do however they need to get it done.
Can you imagine how hard working, loyal and dedicated your workforce would be if you truly helped and supported them find balance between their family and career and valued them based on the quality of their work versus hours seen in the office? I guarantee you would see a decrease in absenteeism, greater productivity, less turnover, and the ability to attract the best of the best.
Now can you imagine what this can do for your business? Countless theories have suggested that treating your workforce (not talking about it, but doing it) as your most valuable asset is what will allow your business to grow. I can’t think of a better way to start letting your teams know you value and respect them than helping them find balance and be well.
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