Work-life balance is something worth taking care of – that’s clear. Difficulties arise when we try to implement the principles of this concept into our lives. Leaders have an exceptionally challenging task – they must take care of work-life balance not only in their own lives but also for the team they lead.
Work-life balance is the pursuit of achieving equilibrium between professional and personal life. Currently, mainly due to the prevalence of remote work, these two worlds intertwine even more, and each of us must find a way that allows us to function healthily in both.
See also: CSR and ESG – from innovation to standard
It is important to take care of balance as the lack of equilibrium between different aspects of our lives does not have a positive impact on us. Among the negative consequences, we can mention:
- Deterioration of health
- Psychosomatic symptoms
- Eating disorders
- Vulnerability to addictions
- Decreased sense of security
- Loss of self-worth
- Difficulty making decisions
- Emotional exhaustion
- Excessive stress
- Lack of motivation for work
- Professional burnout
Taking a look at our dayily routine and how much time we dedicate to different areas of our lives is an important step in order to establish work-life balance. It is important to remember that nothing is constant – our goals, needs, etc., changes are the natural part of life, and depending on the stages of it, different elements will be involved. Therefore, work-life balance is not something you can achieve once and for all. Moreover, each day can be different – sometimes we may need to stay longer at work, sometimes we may need more rest.
Leaders work-life balance
Managers should particularly take care of balance. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, it is a concern for their own well-being – leaders receive a lot of (not always favorable) information, they have to make difficult decisions, quickly identify solutions, etc. The ability to leave work at work is extremely valuable.
See also: The benefits of inclusive leadership.
Secondly, it is the responsibility for others. The company’s policy may emphasize the value of personal life, employee well-being, etc., but it is the leaders who embody these values. If their words will not accompanny by actions they will not be convincing and will make the employees feel guilty of taking their time off of work. If the Leaders are always seen behind the desk, if they always respond quickly to emails, if their status on the working platforms indicates activity during their vacation, they send a clear signal – this is how we work, we are always present. Such behaviour might lead to stressful atmosphere for the empolyees- They left work, their boss is still there – what will be the consequences?
The example comes from the top
First and foremost, a leader must take care of themselves. They must learn to let go, set priorities. They must also remember that work is not life for others. They should support employees in striving for balance, knowing that people who experience fewer conflicts between different spheres of their lives are happier and healthier.
Managers should be aware that by taking care of employees’ mental well-being and welfare, they also take care of the entire organization. The better off people are, the more engaged, efficient, and creative they become. All of this translates into financial results.
Achieving work-life balance is not an easy task. It becomes even more challenging when we have to think not only about ourselves. People have different needs, different possibilities, they are at different stages of life – a leader must know how to reach out and take care of each one of them. In addition, there is the concern for oneself and one’s own needs. How do we combine all of this?
How to take care of work-life balance?
There are many ways to achieve balance, and it’s important to find a solution that suits us best. As a leader, you can (and should):
- Managing time by organizing similar tasks into groups (dedicating a portion of the day exclusively to meetings, office outings, phone conversations, focused work with data, etc.),
- Hiring the best people, which facilitates task delegation (one of the problems managers face is performing too many tasks and constantly checking on others – by recruiting specialists, you empower them and entrust them with more responsibility)
- Respecting your boundaries just as you respect the boundaries of others – since it’s obvious that you don’t call people outside of working hours, don’t respond to every request when you have free time
- Disconnecting from work during your free time – leave your work phone at the office, set up a voicemail message when you go on vacation. If you don’t disconnect, you will never rest and rejuvenate.
Remember to take breaks – it’s also an important part of work, it affects productivity and efficiency. And when you sometimes have to stay “after hours,” that’s okay, but once you’re done, don’t think about work tasks. If you establish and respect your boundaries, you will also teach others to do the same.
Also, consider: Creating equal opportunities in a team – how to create an inclusive work environment?
What can help employees achieve balance? It includes having a flexible schedule, a consistent and predictable workday, focusing on productivity and results rather than working long hours. Avoiding sending messages outside of working hours – it may seem like it’s for “tomorrow,” but someone will receive the notification and only think about that task that needs to be done. Listen to what people say and respond to their needs. Make sure they start their work with a smile and end it with the same mindset. It’s also valuable to organize training sessions, strengthen employees’ skills – not only those related to their tasks but also to help them take care of their well-being.