3 ways managers can promote a healthy work-life balance

Managers should lead by example if they want their employees to follow suit. Here's how and why supervisors should represent a good work-life balance.

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More than half of US employees suffer from job burnout, according to a University of Phoenix report. Burnout can result from a multitude of factors, including a heavy workload, workplace stress, low job satisfaction, lack of appreciation from higher ups, and more.

The reason all of those things occur in the first place is because many employees don't have a good relationship between work and life, said Neely Dolan, New York City recruiting manager for Mondo. "If you don't take advantage of a healthy work-life balance, you're going to burn out," said Dolan. "Taking time for yourself and recharging is a practice that has truly helped me stay driven."

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Burnout can have detrimental effects on an employee's performance and mental health. Clear signs of burnout include anxiety, fatigue, depression, and anger, the report noted. Employees suffering from those symptoms often results in sloppiness or mistakes in their work, Dolan said, as they aren't operating with clear or happy minds.

As with all other business initiatives, the company will only see change if it starts from the top and moves down. "Managers have to be the model," Dolan said. "We cannot expect our employees to practice what we preach if we ourselves aren't practicing it." Currently, 36% of employees say their bosses aren't modeling a good work-life balance.

If managers don't integrate a healthy work-life balance into the company's culture, employees will grow to resent the job, said Shawn Dickerson, senior director of marketing at KeyedIn. Ultimately, the employee ends up quitting the job and going elsewhere, he added.

"The negative effects of a company culture that does not foster a good work-life balance include obvious impacts like high turnover and greater absenteeism, as well as more subtle effects like poor collaboration because employees become guarded about sharing too much detail about their work and whereabouts with team members and managers," Dickerson said.

Here's how managers can facilitate a better work-life balance in the workplace:

1. Flexible work arrangements

Now that companies have the technological ability to connect from anywhere, managers should be flexible with where and how employees work, said Dickerson.

"Technology can provide a great space for ongoing career growth and development for employees outside of the traditional work setting, making them feel like they are not hurting their career by seeking more flexibility or alternative arrangements to more effectively manage their life inside and outside of work," said Sanja Licina, Future of Organizations at Globant.

However, the manager must lead by example and take advantage of a flexible workstyle as well, or else employees may not believe it's really okay to work out of the office, said Licina.

Once they see that flexibility is accepted, practiced, and encouraged, "employees develop gratitude and affection for the company and their team members. That gratitude translates into productivity and longevity," she added.

2. Affirmation

Not only should managers lead by example, but they should encourage their employees to partake in habits that promote a healthy work-life balance, said Maria Colacurcio, CEO of Syndio.

"Use affirming language and action," Colacurcio said. "For example, if a company offers paternity leave, the language surrounding that leave should be positive. Instead of asking whether a male employee will take advantage of paternity leave, ask him when he plans to take it. The difference is subtle, yet very influential."

3. Policies

A more formal and concrete way to advocate for a healthy work-life balance is through company policies, said Brenda Stanton, vice president at Keystone Partners. For example, employers could create a company-wide policy where all employees, including management, don't send emails outside of work hours or on the weekends, Stanton noted.

Or, "Allow employees designated 'white space' on their calendars. Agree on a set period of time where employees can just be," said Stanton. "They can use this time to go for a walk, think, re-create, brainstorm with a colleague. The goal is to show employees that you value their talent/brains - not just their time. Show them they don't always have to be 'doing' to be productive and valuable to the organization."

For more advice on how to be a stronger manager, check out this TechRepublic article.

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