Running Your Business

Teaching New Employees the Importance of Work-Life Balance

  • Burned-out employees cost an estimated $125 to $190 billion annually in U.S. health care spending

  • Managers with more experience should guide younger and newer employees to set healthy work-life boundaries

  • Consider making work-life balance part of the company culture, where everyone—from the newest employee to the CEO—takes time to live a balanced lifestyle and not overwork

Posted by February 4, 2019

Millennials, for one reason or another, aren’t typically regarded as hard workers, but the truth is that this generation—representing 35 percent of U.S. employees—actually seems to struggle more with curbing workaholic tendencies and understanding the importance of work-life balance.

In fact, younger workers and newer employees often try to impress their managers by staying later and working longer hours. But despite this drive and dedication, a millennial’s work ethic can leave them burnt out, which isn’t good for them or their organizations’ bottom lines.

While being a hard worker is admirable, younger employees may need the guidance of HR and management to help them set healthy boundaries at work. Here are four ways your organization can get the most out of your ambitious millennial colleagues, while keeping them happy and healthy.

1. Preach the Importance of Work-Life Balance Immediately

New employees mirror the workplace culture they see from day one. So if your coworkers are overstressed and devoid of a life outside the office, new hires will likely follow suit.

It’s a good idea to highlight the importance of work-life balance and healthy boundaries in the employee handbook, making sure to emphasize these passages during orientation. Next, have new hires’ direct supervisors drive the message home throughout their first few weeks, reiterating that no one benefits from an overworked employee.

2. Teach Staff How to Set Boundaries

With the younger generation being the largest demographic in today’s workforce, they’ll need managers and workers with more experience to guide them on how to set boundaries. This is especially true when it comes to small things that are often overlooked, such as coming in early, staying late or bringing work home.

Encourage your fellow employees to speak out if they feel overworked, and make sure they know that asking for help is perfectly OK—especially in their first month! Additionally, if you notice a colleague floundering a bit, try dispersing some of their work across the team. Being proactive instead of reactive is key.

3. Bring Wellness Into Your Work-Life Balance

Harvard Business Review reports that the psychological and physical issues of overworked and stressed employees costs an estimated $125 to $190 billion in U.S. health care spending each year. The publication also notes that burnout is often a company issue, not an individual employee failure.

To stress the importance of work-life balance to staff, try making it a part of the company’s wellness program. Also, consider letting them invite family members on their wellness journey, encouraging them to bring loved ones to workout classes and participate in workplace weight-loss challenges.

Want to go the extra mile? You can invite travel agents to the wellness fairs! This could help your employees plan vacations, so they actually use their paid time off.

4. Make the Company Culture Match the Mission

It’s one thing to tell employees about the importance of work-life balance, but it’s another thing to make it the company culture. It doesn’t matter how many times it’s discussed in company trainings or written in the company handbook; if new, young employees don’t see their higher-ups modeling a balance between their personal life and work, they won’t either.

This means leading by example and making small changes, such as clocking out on time every day (so colleagues see that you aren’t working longer hours) and regularly scheduling vacations to decompress. Once this balance is valued from above, the company culture will trickle down to everyone.

And most importantly, let younger staff know that a work-life balance is always a “work in progress.” There may be months when team members feel unstressed and content, but others when they find themselves spread too thin. If your fellow employees feel like they’re switching gears into workaholic mode, remind them that every day is an opportunity to regain their work-life balance.

Searching for tools and resources to help your colleagues manage their benefits, like vacation time and mental health days? Check out the Employer Toolkit hosted on United Concordia Dental’s website.

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