As featured on MaltaCeos.mt here
There is much ongoing talk about work-life balance, yet rather than considering them as two separate areas of life, we need to seek ways of combining work and personal life, so they can co-exist happily.
Everyone seems so obsessed with achieving this mythical state of work-life balance. Whilst I believe in the importance of taking time for your personal life, I feel that the term tends to isolate the two areas of our life, when we really should be embracing them as a continuum.
Spending too much time in front of a computer, away from family and friends, can make Jack a dull boy, yet treating a job as a race towards the end-of-month salary can be a very depressive concept indeed. The polarity between ‘work as something we have to do’ and the rest of our ‘life as something we want to do’, tends to neglect all the moments of achievement, success and joys brought on by projects executed and connections created by business partners and other like-minded individuals.
Although many C-suite individuals value job satisfaction, I believe there is more we can do to instil this sense of pride and ownership within our teams. Conversely, this will provide for a more accountable, passionate workforce who are less likely to move on to another company.
Once management and the rest of the workforce align on this way of looking at work, goal setting and job satisfaction will take on a new dimension.
Easier said than done, yet here are some tips:
Instilling a sense of pride – Work-Life Balance
Explaining the bigger picture to our teams – not simply the direction the company is heading towards, but why and how this will benefit them – will give meaning to their daily struggles, making them work harder towards the company’s goals.
As stated by Entrepreneur.com; while employees enjoy flexibility, it is surprisingly not always their utmost priority. Most employees want meaningful work, whilst more so nowadays, they crave recognition and want to work for an empathetic culture.
Balancing personal needs and corporate goals is essential for your team. Combining the part they play towards fulfilling the larger picture, acknowledging them for their hard work and understanding their needs is key.
Enable personalities and interests to shine at the workplace
Strengths as well as personal interests should not only be acknowledged and celebrated, but also set to good use at the workplace. Say you have an employee within the finance department who has a knack for interior design or art – why not allow them to express their creativity at the workplace by jazzing up the office during Christmas? Enabling employees to do something other than their line of work continues to strengthen their sense of belonging towards your organisation.
In a similar vein, personal achievements – be it weddings, new births or graduations – should also be celebrated to continue strengthening the ‘home away from home’ cultural element.
Allow flexibility but couple it with accountability and measures of performance
Encourage your managers to work towards efficiency however not at the expense of nit-picking at the employees’ hours. Break times or social events (social distancing permitting), where all members spend time together should be encouraged. Whilst unrecorded ‘time off’ to run errands should be allowed, this should be reciprocated with a sense of accountability and responsibility on the employees’ end. Managers should resist the temptation of micro-managing yet seek to cultivate a culture of accountability so when employees are away from the desk, the operations, particularly those of timely importance continue undisturbed.
This can be supported by putting in place a series of performance indicators or technically put ‘quantifiable metrics’, which highlight, black on white, the employee’s strengths as well as their areas of improvement. Indicators such as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and frequent Performance Appraisals not only set expectations but also offer clear guidance of what success should look like, whilst serving to substantiate performance dialogues or any changes you’d like to put in place.
Use technology to your advantage
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that remote working can work. Whilst certain tasks are always done best in the physical presence of employees, Managers have an especially important task here to manage remote teams and to determine which tasks are to be done at the office and others which can be done remotely. Likewise, C-level need to find means and ways of drawing employees towards the office to continue feeding and cultivating a positive company culture. These can take the form of value workshops, refreshers, motivational meetings, townhall meetings and other social events, COVID-19 permitting.
Set a good example on the importance to disconnect
If you send emails at all hours of the day and night or work hard on the weekends, your staff will think that is what is expected of them, too. Whilst balance is crucial, particularly if a launch or deadline causes you to work on weekends too, try not to make this the norm, all the time. Utilising one common medium/channel of communication also helps to avoid overburdening employees.
Respect team members who are on leave, be it if they are on a trip or simply taking some time with their family and to regain mental strength. In this way, they will reciprocate this respect when you’re on leave.
Aim for a healthy state-of-mind – Work-Life Balance
Instilling a sense of time management in our staff is vital if we want them to avoid burn-out, retain motivation and operate on a healthy mindset. Allowing employees to exhibit facets of their personality usually reserved to their ‘personal life’ will allow them to feel accepted and at home. Naturally, like this, work is a continuum of their life and not an airproof bubble they lock away come Friday at 5pm and open resentfully on Monday morning.
Similarly, many companies are testing concepts of half days or Fridays off during summer, and the possibility for employees to work overseas during certain times of the year, particularly for those with family abroad. Although it is important to assess your company’s cultural readiness for such changes, as let’s face it, not all companies can make that shift, such ‘modern’ practices could help retain employees as well as open you up to a wider resource pool.
Have you met Nadia Pace? Malta’s ultimate business mentor. Having been a CEO herself, leading companies through restructuring whilst occupying Director roles in myriad companies, her frank, down-to-earth and informal mentoring programme can help you assess your current performance and set you on the right path to success.
Nadia specialises in mentoring employees at C-level and senior management. She can help your company challenge issues related to work life balance, succession and planning, staff motivation and engagement, whilst supporting you in cultivating a healthy company culture.