If you read our blog What candidates want from employers in 2021, then you know that today’s candidates are actively seeking out organizations who are prioritizing work-life balance. That’s because as we continue to see digital and hybrid workplaces becoming the status quo, the lines between work and home will continue blurring.
This means that employers today need to come up with new and improved ways to encourage work-life balance for their teams. To provide you with some inspiration here, we’re sharing five ways you can improve work-life balance at your organization.
- Enforce minimum vacation requirements
Today, many organizations offer unlimited vacation. The idea behind this approach is that employees are free to take as much time off as they need, as long as the job gets done. The emphasis is placed on producing great results, rather than just putting in the hours.
While this is a very progressive approach to vacation time and PTO, it can get a little confusing. In fact, some employees may even end up taking less time than when a standard policy is in place! That’s because without clear guidelines employees may not feel comfortable taking time off if they feel as though they’re taking advantage of the policy.
Instead, try implementing a “minimum vacation” policy. In this approach, you communicate the minimum amount of time employees are expected to take off each year. For example, if you previously had a three-week (15 days) vacation entitlement, you might reframe this as “employees are expected to use a minimum of 15 vacation days per year.”
With this new level of clarity, you’re creating a culture where employees feel comfortable taking leave, while also empowering them to manage their work-life balance in a way that works for them.
- Offer volunteer time off
Volunteer time off (VTO) is a benefit in which a company offers employees paid time off to volunteer. This is becoming an increasingly popular program as Millennials and Gen Z’s become the most populous age group in the workplace. These generations have a strong sense of purpose and care deeply about social responsibility.
Since many volunteering activities take place during the workday, it can be challenging for employees to balance work commitments and volunteer time. Offering VTO is a great way to help employees achieve this balance, while also promoting your commitment to corporate social responsibility.
- Rethink your in-office perks
Pre-pandemic, many organizations offered in-office perks such as free snacks and beverages, ping pong tables, and even nap pods. While these were meant to encourage workers to take breaks, they may actually be encouraging workers to stay at the office longer!
Post-pandemic, if you’re going back to the office, you may want to reconsider your perks and benefits and how that budget can go toward something that actually encourages your employees to step out of the office. This could look like:
- Subsidized gym memberships or a wellness reimbursement
- Lifestyle spending accounts
- Extended lunch breaks
- Mental health and wellness support
- Continuing education and tuition reimbursement
- Summer hours
The possibilities are endless! If you’re not sure where to start, consult your employees to learn what is meaningful to them.
- Promote flexible work schedules
Keeping standard 9-5 hours can make it difficult to promote a strong work-life balance. That’s because many employees have priorities that conflict with this expectation. From school drop-offs and pick-ups, to appointments, to caring for a sick family member — allowing employees to flex their workday can help them manage their time and create a work environment that reduces stress.
There are several approaches to creating a flexible work schedule, and in some cases, it may not be a one-size fits all approach for each role. Consider starting small like implementing flexible start and end times. For example, start times can range from 7:00 am to 10:00 am and end times can range from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. This will encourage employees to create a schedule that works for them, while also meeting their work obligations.
- Create meeting-free days or blocks of time
We’ve all been there — sometimes actually getting work done can be difficult, particularly if you consistently find yourself in endless meetings. However, when employees aren’t able to get their tasks done during the workday, they often have to work over time to get the job done, which can lead to stress and a poor work-life balance.
One way to combat this is to establish meeting-free days or blocks of time so that your employees can get longer chunks of heads-down work done.
There are several ways you can do this. For example, you can make the first and last hour of each workday meeting free, or have one large block like “no meeting mornings.” Depending on the structure of your organization, you may even be able to allocate an entire day or two to heads down work, like no meetings on Mondays or Fridays for example.
Regardless of your approach, minimizing the amount of work your employees have to do in the late evenings and on weekends can go a long way in boosting productivity and improving work-life balance.
At the end of the day, work-life balance is an important aspect of a healthy work environment and candidates are taking notice of employers who are delivering here. By creating an environment and culture that prioritizes work-life balance, you can attract and retain qualified talent, reduce burnout, and maintain a healthier, more productive workforce.
ML6 is a recruitment and talent advisory firm located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). We provide customized solutions to support our clients throughout the employee lifecycle. We help our clients attract and retain talent by advising on people programs, processes, and best practice