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Work-life balance is about leading by example

By Patrick Williams


When it comes to work-life balance, direction must come from the top down. A healthy work-life balance has to be part of the culture and something that’s practiced and advocated by leadership, not just paid lip service.

Successful leaders work at building a culture that promotes work-life balance because they know from personal experience that doing so pays off. There’s plenty of research that shows employees perform better for bosses who care about them, but that really should just be common sense.

A CEO, leader or manager plays a big role in an organization’s success – in large part through their influence on how engaged employees are with the business as a whole and with their own work specifically. In fact, if you manage people, you are their primary point of human contact with the organization and the one best positioned to improve their engagement. A healthy work-life balance helps promote increased workplace engagement, retention and productivity. Plus, it helps the team – and leader – be happier at work. Here are some ways to support your team.


Emphasize the value of work-life balance.

Let your team know that you realize they have personal lives. Encourage them to take care of themselves and use their time off. Watch out for the tendency to reward competence and hard work with, more work. Make a conscious effort to spread the workload evenly. That way, top performers don’t feel overburdened and everyone gets a chance to learn and grow.


Make the most of your time

Whether at work or at home, try to break up tasks into blocks of no more than 90 minutes at a time. After that point, concentration is likely to plummet, taking efficiency down with it.


Set and communicate clear goals

Half of managers don’t set effective employee goals, yet unclear goals are a common source of job stress. Avoid this pitfall by making sure the goals for your team are well defined and clearly stated. This helps the whole team stress less, avoid confusion and focus on the important work that needs to be done.


Be alert for signs of stress in your team

Warning signs you might notice in a member of your team (or yourself) include cynicism, apathy, irritability, impatience and decreased or inconsistent productivity. If you suspect a problem, know how to refer employees to helpful programs such as your Employee Assistance Program (EAP).


Support flexibility when possible

A flexible work environment is one of the most effective ways of fostering work-life balance. Know your organization’s policies on work arrangements such as flexible hours, working from home and four-day workweeks. For tips on implementing such arrangements, talk to your HR representative or EAP resources.


Don’t neglect your own work-life balance

Make room in your busy day for activities outside of work, including physical activity and time with family and friends. Send a strong message to your team about the value of work-life balance when they see you leading by example.

Remember that work-life balance is the strongest workplace driver of personal happiness, according to the 2017 World Happiness Report. The report found that a healthy balance between work and home is linked to greater job satisfaction and overall well-being.

How you as a person manage your own work life and personal life really comes across when it comes to responding to other people’s work-life needs. This applies in all aspects of life, so the same is true for colleagues, employees, partners and children. Do your people feel comfortable taking time off from work to attend to personal matters? Do your people feel comfortable calling in sick when they are too ill to work? Do you know when it is easy for them to work longer hours and when it would be a real hardship?

Understanding these aspects of their lives will make it easier for your team to get the work done, reduce stress and meet their personal as well as their professional obligations. The more control you can give people over how, when and where they do their work, the more satisfied and effective they are likely to be.

Patrick Williams is a clinical director for LifeWorks, by Morneau Shepell.




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