Today there is so much stress at work that employees in most countries are reporting being unhappier even as they earn more money. They often feel that the tradeoff of life for work is uneven, and they are being asked to give way too much no matter what they earn.
This concerns companies because it often leads to workers being less productive and losing interest in work. Insurance companies are seeing the effects, workers are becoming ill more often, taking more sick days, and even abusing drugs and alcohol more frequently. Insurance rates are soaring because of these facts.
As a result, insurers have become more proactive about stress at work. They are now offering strategies and tools for companies to assist their employees to improve their work / life balance and help them to find contentment in ways that are not connected to their incomes. Family health insurance, for example, offers support for the whole family, taking away some of the stress should a close loved one get sick while you have to work.
The key for employers is to help employees to find the ideal work / life balance. It is not always easy and it will often shift over time, but there are some core strategies and ideas that can assist, leading to happier and more productive employees. Here are some ways companies can support their staff:
Set the Right Example
Your employees, whether they tell you or not, look to you to set the example for how they should approach their jobs. They want to emulate you as much as possible because they feel that this is how they keep their jobs and even get promoted. So whatever behavior you present, it is likely they are mimicking or trying to mimic it.
With this in mind, be aware if you are putting in 70 hours a week every week and only want to discuss work all the time. They will also feel the need to overwork themselves and never complain about the strain – this does not mean that they do not feel it. Only that they do not feel that they can speak out to you, because you will look at their speaking out as a negative.
So, examine your own behaviors and if you are hard task master, back off a little and take some breaks. You will find that this approach gets more done. Your employees will back off also and as a result of being more rested, they will perform better.
Not every employee, no matter your relationship with them, will communicate that they are at their breaking point. Some will not even know it until they collapse, have an outburst or simply quit in anger. You as the manger have to pay attention to the signs. Are they less communicative? Has their personality changed? Are they more irritable? Are they spending more time out sick?
Any and all of these are signs that they might be having real challenges with their stress levels at work and need a break. If you notice any of these symptoms for more than a few days consecutively, give that person a few days off and tell them to go home and spend time with the family.
Talk With Them About it
You should have conversations with your employees about finding a good work / life balance. Many may not have thought that it is possible while other might not have thought that you are interested in it for them. Speaking with them about it will give the topic importance, and give them permission to tell you their feelings. You might find that for some of your employees this is a very relevant topic.
Take a proactive approach to helping your employees find balance. It will pay off in higher productivity and happier employees.