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Prioritizing Work-Life Balance Key to Retaining Top Talent

Close-up Of A Human Hand Protecting Balance Between Life And Work On Seesaw

October is National Work and Family Month, created in 2003 and recognized officially by President Barack Obama in 2010 with a National statement on the importance of work-life balance. At its inception, the month was designed to try and remove the stigma of creating time for personal needs and to “communicate and celebrate the progress towards creating healthier and more flexible work environments.”

During the years of COVID shutdowns, remote jobs and hybrid work environments, a spotlight shone once again on the importance of creating a sense of balance and allowing for personal time. Millions spent months (or years) working at home or partly remote and found they relished the freedom that came with the opportunity to better balance their schedule and overall day.

As employees return to variations on full-time work, demand is higher than ever for a work environment that fosters this sort of balance. Especially now, employers find themselves losing top talent to opportunities that offer that greater allocation of time and resources for employees.

As much as you may desire to have everyone back working together, as an owner or manager you need to be a bit elastic to meet your employee’s needs to ensure they remain happy and productive. This is not to say that anything goes and employees don’t have reasonable requirements for employment, it is just an examination of the way focusing on work-life balance can be used for both attracting and retaining top talent.

So how can you promote work-life balance while still ensuring your team is productive and accountable?

Ask your team what they need! Is the biggest challenge setting a work schedule that allows school pickups and drop offs? Do you use out of date apps or software that impedes remote work options? Survey your employees first and foremost on what their biggest issues are when it comes to balancing personal time and see where you can go from there.

Factor in your caregivers when it comes to metrics and talent growth — Most employers have a set of standards or benchmarks for promotions and bonus structures. However, those standards are likely set in a universal manner designed to be evenly applied across all sectors. What if one of your potential promote-tees is low on billable hours but she was out part of the year for maternity leave? Is there an equivalence scale when it comes to evaluation where an employee can have an equal chance for opportunity? Examine ways to work with HR to factor caregiving roles into employee metrics, ensuring your team feels valued and less likely to jump ship due to unfair evaluations.

Be realistic about required meetings and calls — Through the pandemic almost everyone got to the point where total Zoom/Teams/FaceTime fatigue was overwhelming, sapping any ability to spark creativity. Many workplaces have not modified the number of calls or ‘check in’ meetings employees must log in to during the week, driving massive burnout. Spend time examining all the required appearances employees have each week and determine if a few could be eliminated or combined — Allowing your employee to feel a bit more ownership of their schedule, and hence, their position.

Look to companies you are losing staff to — If it seems like no matter what, each month you find yourself replacing an employee who has left for your biggest competitor or an industry disruptor, it’s important to find out why. Conduct exit interviews whenever possible to get honest answers — It might be hard but can be valuable down the road. Peruse job listings and position descriptions to those companies you battle with for the top talent – What are they offering in the work-life area that you aren’t? Often it is much more than salary that attracts and retains a top employee — it is the entire experience.

Up your HR resources — Even if you are unable to provide any additional paid employee benefits such as child care, counseling, special education needs or physical fitness programs, spend some time at least building a resource library and networking groups your HR team can assist employees with. The idea that you are helping the employee find a better work-life balance, even if it is not directly funded by you, goes a long way when it comes to morale and retention.

Realize things change — Finally, it is essential to go with the flow when it comes to your employees’ needs. You might create a perfect flex-hours schedule for your entire inside sales team and then wham! One of your team leaders is out with a major injury and needs to work remote for the next two months. Trying to remain flexible and positive in a difficult situation will enhance employee energy and willingness to potentially give more when needed when they see you as the employer truly invested in everyone’s needs.

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