The importance of work-life balance during summertime cannot be overstated. This time of year can be hectic for many working people. School is out and kids are at home, which causes a break in the normal routine of working parents (and grandparents). For this reason, employees tend to schedule their vacations in the summer—often leaving their coworkers at the office to pick up the slack.
Accordingly, single, childless professionals may feel the pressure to work more hours, even though they deserve downtime too. In addition, the hot and humid weather can become oppressive, which encourages employees to spend long hours working indoors. With so many factors in play, it’s crucial for employers to try and maintain work-life balance for all.
Is Work-Life Balance Getting Worse?
It seems that work-life balance becomes less of a priority during the summer months. Regular routines are impacted by many of life’s distractions. However, work-life balance remains critical in organizations because it impacts employee engagement, stress levels and productivity.
A 2018 survey by FlexJobs revealed that the number of employees who are struggling to maintain a balance between their personal and professional lives is actually increasing. Around 30 percent of the 1,200 respondents indicated they were satisfied with their current work-life balance (as compared to 45 percent just three years ago). So, what’s happening here?
Factors Influencing Work-Life Balance
There are several factors that may explain why work-life balance is sliding backward. First, there are more millennials and Generation Z employees in the workplace than ever before. Individuals in these demographics tend to value their personal time more than other generations, however, they also want to experience more in life and their careers. This means they put added pressure on themselves to do more. They want to impress their supervisors so they may take on extra projects that demonstrate their abilities.
Other factors that are reducing work-life balance can be attributed to the overly connected world we live in, such as the ubiquity of mobile devices and Wi-Fi availability. It’s bad enough that Americans don’t take that much vacation time, but now one study indicates we are actually working while we are on vacation!
According to a recent LinkedIn study, most employees report that they believe career success means being able to spend time with families and disconnecting from work, yet 70 percent check work email and communicate with their colleagues when they are away from work. Why do they do this? Over half of the respondents said they did not want to fall behind on work-related things, which compelled them to stay connected.
Steps to Improve Work-Life Balance
Employers can do a number of things to emphasize the importance of work-life balance in the summertime. Here are four measures that organizations can take to support a greater work-life balance among employees.
1. Make It a Core Cultural Value
Within the organization, the idea of work-life balance may not be taken too seriously. However, it needs to become one of the core values of your company’s work culture. By emphasizing the importance of a proper balance, it communicates to all that they should be thinking of ways to create stability in their personal and professional lives—and support each other.
2. Create Awareness of Personal Habits
It’s a good idea to educate employees about better ways of managing time, projects and people. This can help team members become more self-aware of their work habits and how they impact others. For example, an employee who is overly stressed may tend to turn in work late, meaning their colleagues have to work longer hours to get things done.
3. Get Management Behind It
It’s one thing to talk about work-life balance; it’s another to put it into real practice within the workplace. This requires getting management on board. Company leaders may be setting employees up for failure by working too many hours themselves or rewarding employees who are workaholics (rather than those who understand the fine balance between work and play). To prevent burnout, management could mandate that employees not take phone calls or answer emails while on vacation.
4. Provide Outlets for Support
If any employees are struggling with work-life balance—whether due to personal commitments or work-related troubles—it’s time for an intervention. Take some time to sit down with them and provide a few strategies for developing better work habits, and by all means, encourage them to take on a more flexible schedule and request time off as needed!
With just a few preventive steps, any workplace can become more productive and positive. A proper work-life balance is something that individuals need to work on continually. Being supported and encouraged by management can make all the difference.