With the push toward the freelancer generation, which is now going strong at nearly 54 million professionals in the United States who enjoy creating their own schedules and taking control of their careers and personal lives, more companies are realizing that they need to make some changes in policy and other “hard and fast rules,” to be able to keep the best talent on board.
Companies also don’t want to add more to the estimated $350 billion of lost productivity that comes from unhappy employees. However, statistics show that Americans are working more hours than ever before, especially since technology has “blurred the line between work and home” and changed expectations. Now, one in three Americans feels overworked and admits their personal lives have fallen by the wayside due to fear they’ll lose their jobs if they’re not on call and working around the clock.
In looking at some of today’s best companies to work for, there’s a common theme related to making employees happy, by giving them a better way to balance both their work and personal lives.
How does work-life balance contribute to employee happiness?
At its core, the concept of work-life balance helps a company realize that their employees are humans first and workers, second. When employees start to be seen as mere worker bees whose only life is their work, the natural expectation is that they’ll operate like a bunch of drones. No one wants—or can—have work be the only stage they perform on in life. After a certain period of time, a person will feel bored or frustrated if their concentration has been dedicated entirely to their job—no matter how much one enjoys that job.
When other obligations loom on the horizon, such as plans, activities or even dreams your employees would like to participate in and pursue, an employee will become restless and distracted. Less work will be done. Not good news for you or your bottom line.
A true work-life balance also provides satisfaction and fulfillment where a person is accomplishing and experiencing a richer and a more productive life. True leaders exhibit and help foster these unicorn habits. Employees who have good leaders aren’t as stressed, distracted, nor are they thinking about how they’ll be able to get certain things done. With a finite amount of time allotted to each person on the earth, every employee should know they can relax and enjoy what they’re doing. With less rushing and stress, everyone can become more mindful of what they’re actually doing. This will translate into a much more motivated and productive and dedicated team.
Happiness and variety translates to healthy productivity
Essentially, the strategy is simple: Take care of them, and they’ll take care of you. Research from the Wharton School of Business found that when employees are in a positive frame of mind due to happiness, they’re more likely to make more effective decisions based on “greater analytic precision.” In turn, this alters behaviors that then motivates the entire company to be more open and productive.
For example, Laserfiche does not require more than eight hours a day from its employees because it understands those other hours are necessary for having personal lives with their own list of duties and needs. While this tech company does value entrepreneurism and creativity, it also recognizes it can get more out of the work, dedication and concentration from their employees if they value their personal time and their desires to spend time with family and friends. In return, Laserfiche’s employees deliver above and beyond, win-win for everyone.
Tips for work-life balance in the workplace
A U.S. News and World Report article described some of the things that the best companies in the world do to help their employees achieve this balance and feel happier:
- Clif Bar and Company installed an on-site gym for employees and pays them to work out 2.5 hours a week
- Companies like Prezi, The Motley Fool, and Pinterest offer unlimited paid vacation
- Netflix introduced an extended maternity and paternity leave for its staff
- Dropbox added a music studio to its headquarters while other companies provide other recreational activities that help satisfy the need for play
- SurveyMonkey offers yoga twice a week and brutal (in a good way!) circuit training taught by health and fitness-minded employees
While many of these ideas may not align with your current budgetary restrictions, you can implement other lower cost ways to create this balance. For example, flex-time and telecommuting are two of the most often-used tactics to create a work-life balance for employees and these options don’t require a considerable investment to get a positive payback in the form of happier, healthier and more productive employees.
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, author and contributing writer for Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, Inc., and The Huffington Post. Don’t miss his recent post on our beloved former CEO, Dave Goldberg on Business.com.
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