The term "work-life balance" is derided in some business circles because it is seen as a form of slacking off. However, the Harvard Business Review has reported a variety of research that shows that overwork is not only adding very little to the true success of a business, it can actually be harmful. Work-life balance must be achieved for the sake of the strategic goals of your company, since worn-out employees create less creative solutions, make more mistakes, and burn out quicker.
Make Clear Job Descriptions a Priority, and Refer to Them
Knowing exactly what tasks belong to each employee helps each person to know when their job is satisfactorily completed. These descriptions shouldn't be vestiges of years past, but rather living online documents that are revised whenever performance reviews occur. Employees are empowered by knowing they are achieving their objectives, and managers get more done when they can fluidly and clearly add new tasks and take away outdated ones.
Evaluate Your Communication Pathways and Eliminate Roadblocks
Every office needs ways to achieve "urgent" inquiries and leisurely ones, and asking the entire office to use instant messages only for quick-reply requests can be one way to avoid stalling. Clarify communication policies and watch how much less time everyone can spend on email and other communication tools.
Turn Internal Meetings Into Quick, Frequent Check-Ins
Rather than holding meetings with large amounts of employees that last a long time, focus on shorter, team-driven meetings that are specifically to check in and assign tasks. Create a culture of offering information rapidly, possibly even via online meeting software, and then moving on to the tasks with a minimum of chit-chat. Employee relationships are valuable, but chatter can be reserved for the break room or lunch table.
Research The Impacts of Changing Roles at Work
When requesting a role change for your own employee or for yourself, consider the wider implications for the other employees in your team. Don't make supervisors figure out the impacts themselves; you look better when you offer a complete solution, not just a suggestion to benefit yourself.
Pitch Workplace Flexibility in Terms of What the Business Will Gain
When asking for remote work, flexible hours, or a change in responsibilities, it is essential to point out how a better work-life balance is in the company's best interest. Make sure that when you go to ask for fewer responsibilities or different tasks, you have a clear rationale for why it will be beneficial for the company to have you more rested and satisfied at work.
Create Reporting Structures to Value Results, Not Hours
If your managers are offering praise based on who is working late or arriving early, help them shift their focus. Find ways to note and praise those who complete concrete tasks ahead of schedule, regardless of the hours that it takes to achieve them. It is also important to share customer feedback: if someone did an amazing job and made a client happy, it doesn't matter how many hours it took to do so.
Overwork has been proven to have a major impact on employee turnover, which is costly for employers. Finally, with research that shows that pretending to work long hours and actually working them look the same to many employers, employers benefit from valuing work-life balance and pointing to results, not hours, as a metric for success.