Advice for employers

Written by Katherine Nicholls
Katherine Nicholls
Life Coach Directory Content Team

Whether you’re a large, corporate company or a smaller business, the mental health and well-being of your employees need your attention. Here, we look at some tips for employers to ensure their workforce is happy and healthy, and we explore the role of coaching for employees.

Why is work/life balance important? 

Having a good work/life balance is an important way to protect our mental health and well-being. It helps prevent us from experiencing stress and burnout and ensures we're making time for the other aspects of our lives that bring us joy and happiness.

Although a significant part of our lives is spent working, our careers are not the only thing that defines us as people. For employees (including yourself as an employer), having a good balance between work and personal time allows us to grow and learn in other ways, such as through hobbies and interests, as well as looking after our physical and mental health and nurturing our relationships with friends and family.

The importance of work/life balance for employers 

These benefits aren't just limited to our personal lives, however. They also extend to how well we're able to carry out our work. Ensuring that your employees have a positive work/life balance brings numerous benefits to your business, including:

  • increased engagement 
  • increased productivity and efficiency 
  • reduced employee turnover/better staff retention
  • lower levels of absenteeism 
  • greater job satisfaction 

Work/life balance tips for employers 

It's clear to see the benefits that a good work/life balance brings both for your employees and your business. But how can employers go about fostering this in the workplace? Below are some examples of ways that businesses can strive to promote work/life balance. 

Share the message

A great first step is to introduce the message of work/life balance to everyone in the company. Inform them that this is a key focus in your organisation and encourage employees to speak up if they are struggling with their workload or other stressors outside of work. Employees often think they can’t bring their problems to work but, if there is a support network available, they can take steps to manage the problem, rather than keeping it to themselves. This forms part of our next tip - practice what you preach. 

Practice what you preach 

Work/life balance should be modelled across the business, including by those at the top. If senior members of the organisation take breaks, leave their desks for lunch and log off on time, employees will be more likely to follow suit. It's also important to respect your employee's personal time and try to avoid contacting them outside of their working hours.

Top tip: You may wish to consider investing in senior management training so your team are better equipped to identify the signs and causes of poor work/life balance among employees, and the steps to take if they are concerned.

Ensure that there's also a process in place for managers who may be experiencing stress. Everybody in the workplace should have the opportunity to seek support if needed.

Learn more about mental health first aid training and how it could support staff. 

Develop mental health policies

Having policies in place that acknowledge and raise awareness of the link between work-related stress and mental health is key. These policies can include information about the support available and the process employees should follow if they need help.

Allow staff to attend counselling and support services during working hours: mental health is just as important as physical health. So, if an employee is offered an appointment allowance for the dentist, aim to offer the same for a counselling session.

Encourage a culture of openness

Within your workplace, encourage a culture of openness. This includes openness about time constraints, workload and employees’ mental health. It’s important that staff feel comfortable about speaking up if they are struggling or if they need time off to focus on their mental health.

Encourage breaks 

When swamped with deadlines, you may notice employees working late or through their lunch. One way to encourage taking a break is to set certain times for lunch, or coffee breaks.

Our lunch hour is the time to take a moment away from our responsibilities and give our minds a rest before an afternoon of working. Encouraging employees to eat lunch away from their workspaces and get some fresh air is essential for good well-being, and also helps boost afternoon productivity.

Consider flexible working

How flexible you can be will depend on the industry, but offering flexible working can be a great way to support employees and promote work/life balance. If your office hours are 9 - 5 pm, consider introducing flexitime, so staff are able to avoid the traffic, or even catch up on some much-needed sleep. An extra 30 minutes can go a long way.

Perhaps you can change up how you do meetings. A change of scenery is sometimes the best way to get motivated, so why not suggest teams head to the local coffee shop for their weekly meeting or even try a walking meeting?

If you can offer remote working, this is a great way to support employees and encourage work/life balance. Remote working can ease some of the pressures that come with working in an office, while also allowing staff to allocate their time and tasks to their own schedule.

It’s time to recognise our differences and ditch the one-size-fits all approach.

- Read more about taking an individual approach to work

Mandatory holiday

Introducing an emphasis on working well during contracted hours, rather than putting in extra time after hours is another way to encourage work/life balance. Daily breaks, weekends (if the industry allows) and holidays are essential in combating burnout and are some of the most important aspects of staying productive at work.

In your workplace, encourage work-free time off, set rules against contacting employees with work-related queries out of hours, and encourage holidays. Stepping away for a week or two to completely unwind is not only beneficial for health and mental well-being, but it’s also a great way to come back feeling refreshed, inspired and keen to work.

Try staff coaching

Sometimes it can be helpful to call in some expert help. Staff coaching is a type of coaching specific to employees. It can help your team in a number of ways including supporting them to develop better time management skills, manage work-related stress and set healthy boundaries. Ultimately, coaching employees can help them to work towards a professional goal whilst keeping their physical and mental health in check.

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