Tom O'Neil: How to achieve that healthy balance

By Tom O'Neil

How's your work/life balance going?

Did you answer any emails over the long weekend? On a recent holiday, did your boss know how to get hold of you and did you take any calls when you were away? If so, we probably need to talk about work-life balance.

As you are probably aware, having a strong work-life balance is vital for a healthy career. However, as people leaders we also need to be conscious of providing healthy work-life balance options for our staff. As organisations we work hard to achieve environmental and manufacturing sustainability, however does this focus cross over to team members? Do we have sustainable working environments, helping both our company and our employees to be successful over the long term?

Proven benefits of a sustainable work place

You would have to have been living under a rock not to understand that work-life imbalance can lead to higher rates of absenteeism and staff turnover, as well as reduced productivity over the medium to long term.

Staff members who believe they are supported by their employers, are more committed to the organisation, are more keen to go "above and beyond" when required, and positively support other team members. Having a healthy employee work-life balance is in the long-term interest of your company, and has to start from the top.

The "right" work-life balance

The balance we require changes as we progress through life. As a young single man, my focus was on building my career, while today it's on my family, with my job playing more of a supporting role in my life. Therefore, we need to be aware there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this problem.

What to do?

As a "people sustainable" employer, we can offer a range of options to our team members including:

Changing core work hours -- Can you offer alternative hours for your team members that better fits their lifestyle? For example early starts / early finishes, or for one architectural practice I know of, a working week spread over four days.

Working from home one or two days a week -- We were all promised this utopia years ago, however 'home' did not turn out to be the worker's paradise we all hoped it would be. For some staff though, the ability to work from home one or two days a week may be of real benefit, so investigate whether this is an option for those who would genuinely appreciate it.

Contingency planning

Who do we call when key staff are away on holiday? Rather than pestering the sales manager while she is on a family holiday, set up contingency plans that allow growth within the team. Also put in place a company policy that you only contact people on holiday when it is an absolute emergency.

Lead from the top -- As employers, take charge of your own work-life balance and lead by example, ensuring you are sending a consistent message in your actions and deeds, not just your words.

Future proofing your organisation

Companies that provide a people-sustainable and flexible work life approach for their staff, will help to future-proof their organisation, ensuring quality people stay, and talented people want to join.

Tom O'Neil is an award winning business speaker, best-selling international author and MD of www.TomONeil.com and www.CV.CO.NZ. You can contact Tom on tom@tomoneil.com

- NZ Herald

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