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How a healthy work life balance can prevent employee burnout

When you think about the elements of a satisfying career, your brain might automatically go to steady progression through the ranks, a healthy salary, and being surrounded by a community of like minded individuals. But do you also spend time thinking about the personal life that will surround your career?

In today’s world, we are more connected than ever. Our phones, laptops and gadgets are connected to our workplace more than ever, and even when we are not at work we are often checking our email and even completing tasks from our homes. Relaxing and ‘letting go’ is harder that it has ever been in the past.

Creating a strong sense of work life balance is important for everyone – no one wants to spend their life in the office without a chance to recharge and relax on their down time. A successful work life balance can help individuals to develop their relationships, nurture their children, build strong friendships and take part in hobbies.

The richness and fulfilment that can come from these non-work activities cannot be overstated. As a manager, when your employees (and don’t forget about yourself!) feel like they have a good balance in their lives, they will perform to a higher standard. This will improve productivity, increase the quality of their work and ideally help you to strengthen your bottom line.

What work life balance means to millennials

Millennials in particular truly value a strong sense of work life balance, but the actual definition of what this means can be confusing. They want to be able to earn a good living, but are often willing to reduce their earnings if it means taking more time off to travel, explore and relax.

Stefanie O’Connell is a millennial money expert, and she explains her ethos as such: “For me, it’s not so much about work-life balance as it is work-life integration. I’m not driven by the prospect of working hard for the next 30 years to retire one day. I’m building a lifestyle and a career that I’d be happy to maintain for the rest of my life… that flexibility makes my career sustainable in a way that I can adapt when new lifestyle priorities arise.”

When faced with this kind of mentality, it is up to you to ensure that your millennial employees feel satisfied that their careers give them time to live their personal lives. Freedom to travel, to take time off and to learn new skills – these are all key when it comes to improving employee engagement and retaining your valuable team members.

Prevent burn out by being reasonable about your expectations

If you want to prevent your employees from ‘burning out’ and getting overwhelmed and stressed at work, you need to allow time for employee recovery. Burnout is caused by a number of workplace factors, including unsustainable workloads, no time for recovery and a lack of control over one’s own time.

You certainly want to encourage your employees to be ‘engaged’ – you would like them to be energetic, involved, committed, efficient and creative. These are the signs of an employee who is ready to do their best work and help your business succeed. Ensuring that they feel like they are a part of your long term goals and successes is one way to help this to happen.

On the other hand, a ‘burnt out’ employee will often show signs of being exhausted, both mentally and physically. They might make cynical comments about the work (or even about you), experience a slump in their productivity and fail to meet deadlines and targets.

If you want to prevent burn out, you need to be reasonable about your expectations. Resist contacting your employees on their days off, and encourage them to take their full holiday allotment every year. When they do take their holidays, resist the urge to complain to them about the increased workload that you will experience while they are gone – this ‘guilt tripping’ will make their holiday time stressful, completely nullifying the positive effects.

The importance of flexible working hours

While you have every right to expect your employees to be in the office to do their jobs, it is also important to be flexible at times (within reason). Does a valued employee need a day off to take their little one to the doctor? Do they need to leave early for a dentist’s appointment? Could they use an extra day off after a death in the family? Do everyone a favour and show your team that you care by being flexible about working hours. This will improve their trust in you, your firm and your long term goals, and it will also benefit their own wellbeing.

When you are too rigid about the times that your employees ‘punch in and punch out’ you send the message that you care more about rules than about your employees as individual people.

Being a good employer is about a lot more than providing a healthy salary and offering feedback for a job well done. No, you need to make sure that everyone has the time and means to enjoy a rich personal life when they are not in the office.

Ensuring a sense of work life balance amongst your team is not just about making your employees feel ‘warm and fuzzy’ – it will benefit your business in the long run and increase your profitability.

How do you ensure that your employees experience a positive sense of work life balance? Have you had good (or bad) experiences with this in the past? Share your experiences in the comment section below and engage in a conversation with likeminded individuals.

Share this article with your employees and gauge their feedback to make your efforts even more successful.

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