· Eve Church  · 5 min read

How Your Company Culture Informs Employee Work-Life Balance

Managers who demand round-the-clock availability and actively blur the lines between work-life balance have a big part to play in creating their company’s toxic culture - and for its poor retention rates

If your organization’s (unofficial) mantra is something along the lines of “work, eat, sleep, repeat” then we hate to break it to you but if your employees aren’t already showing signs of stress, burn out and disengagement, it’s not going to be too much longer before they do.

Managers who demand round-the-clock availability and who actively blur the lines between work-life balance have a big part to play in creating their company’s toxic culture - and for its poor retention rates.

Thanks to the rise of hybrid teams and remote working, the concept of work-life balance has shifted as employees realize that being able to have more time for life admin, spending less time being distracted by overly chatty coworkers and saying goodbye to the time consuming and costly commute is actually pretty cool.

Read more: 6 Ways to Show Your Employees a Little Love

The thing is, many of us are still conditioned to want to ‘have it all’: A thriving career, a busy social life, an active family life, and more consumer goods than you can shake a stick at - possibly even with a side hustle thrown in too.

But is this really the route to happiness?

Multiple lockdowns, the slowing down of life, a new found appreciation for nature, and working from home has had many people changing their definition of success. It’s now about work-life balance and quality of life

Trying to do and have it all is a fast track to burn out and poor mental health. But how can you ensure your company (or rather, some of your managers) aren’t reinforcing the idea that having it all is the be all and end all?

How your company culture informs employee work-life balance

Your employees may have come to the gradual realization that rampant career growth and a flashy new car is actually less important than their mental and physical health, their relationships, and their personal happiness.

But if there’s a misalignment between the way the modern employee thinks and your organization’s company culture, you’ll find that it won’t take much for your people to start quitting in favor of companies who do support mental health in the workplace.

Read more: 3 Tips to Help Employees Cope with Working From Home

Here’s how you can ensure that your employees are coming to work full of positivity and with productivity on their minds rather than hauling themselves into the office already stressed out before they’ve even sat down.

How to create a company culture that endorses a work-life balance

Ensure that managers obey boundaries

Put simply, your management needs to know that your company culture does not expect employees to be on hand out of office hours to take calls, answer SMSs or WhatsApp messages, or reply to emails.

Furthermore, these rules should be included in your company manual so that you have something to refer back to should the need arise.

Even if your company is fully remote, your working hours and the expectations for availability should be clearly noted.

Staff should also be encouraged to take proper lunch breaks and use up all of their vacation allowance. And it goes without saying that managers should not make contact with staff while they’re on vacation.

Offer remote, hybrid and flexible working

With the majority of employees clearly preferring to work remotely most of the time, if you’re not offering flexible work options you’re going to be alienating employees who will end up looking elsewhere for employment.

It’s not rocket science that working remotely and/or flexibly is a huge part of being able to better balance work and life.

Read more: How to Create a Hybrid Team Set Up That Works

The commute is eliminated or reduced, childcare is often easier, and home offices are usually more comfortable.

Allowing employees to work from home, even if it’s just for one or two days a week, also indicates that you trust them, which in turn creates more loyalty in your workforce.

Support mental health in the workplace

To be a progressive leader in today’s world, your managers need to be empathetic, emotionally intelligent and to instinctively know if their people are feeling stressed or appearing to be burnt out.

As the British mental health charity, Mind, found:

“More than one in five (21%) agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them.”

Companies are more likely to be productive and profitable if their employees are happy. And if your current company culture is one that doesn’t recognize the need for employee support, you need to address the issue.

You need to be able to identify burnt out and stressed employees’ needs and address the problems that are affecting them.

Read more: Should You Implement Duvet Days? Your Questions Answered

For example, do they need to take a couple of days off to address issues that are affecting them outside of work? Is something (or someone) in the workplace having a detrimental effect on them? Are they overloaded with work and unable to cope?

You need to make sure that your company culture makes it clear that everyone can talk authentically and openly about issues without fear of being judged or gossiped about.

This will encourage your people to ‘show up’ for work and can help to increase their engagement, productivity and loyalty.

How your company culture informs employee work-life balance: Conclusion

Your employees are not automatons. They shouldn’t be required to forget their home life the minute they log on.

Forward-thinking organizations understand the importance of a great company culture and the part it has to play in finding work-life balance.

They know that if they want to retain staff, and for those staff to be positive and productive, they need to support their mental health and ensure that they’re not being overworked or underpaid.

As we said at the start of this post, people are starting to recognize that having it all is not as important as enjoying life (and work can be a part of that). However, this is only possible if businesses embed the ethos of achieving work-life balance into their company culture.

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