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How to Use Work-Life Balance for Employee Retention

Having a hard time retaining good employees? There are many reasons this could be happening.

One of the main reasons employees choose to lose a job is because they don’t have a good work and life balance which can lead to stress and unhappiness.

If you want to keep more of your valued employees on your payroll, keep reading to learn more about how to use a work-life balance to increase your employee retention numbers. 

What is a Work Life Balance?

Work-life balance is the idea that an employee can perform all of the duties required of them at a job while also being able to complete the things needed of them at home. Frequently, this also includes free time to allow the employee to pursue passions or get caught up on rest. 

Companies tend to see the work-life balance in different ways, but overall it means that you as the employer do not control the entire life of your employee and you allow them time away from the job to do whatever they would like to do.

Work-life balance doesn’t always refer to allowing the employee to not answer your phone calls during non-work hours. It can also refer to granting the employee vacation days, sick days, or just listening to an employee when they have problems and coming up with a non-conventional solution. 

Why is Work-Life Balance Important?

While the work-life balance didn’t use to be as important as it is today, thanks to the push to purchase experiences rather than items, many millennials will leave a job because they feel it doesn’t have a good work-life balance that allows them to pursue what they are passionate about.

Although many people may think it is just young people that care about the work-life balance, upon continued research on the subject, it has been shown time and time again that without a work-life balance an employee can experience an undue and sometimes deadly amount of stress. This stress can not only lead to depression but in serious cases, suicide. 

Regardless of the extremes, people today are much more aware of mental health than they were previously and when an employee senses they don’t have a good work and life balance in your employ, they will likely begin to search for work elsewhere. 

Additionally, burnout has become a worldwide phenomenon and is a condition where an employee, due to too much workplace stress, becomes unable to work. This inability to work further lowers their productivity rate and may cause your company to lose business if it isn’t treated. 

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Allowing an employee to work from home can be a huge step towards a better work-life balance. 

How Can You Use a Work-Life Balance to Increase Retention?

As mentioned above, there are several ways you can give your employee a better work-life balance that will keep them from searching for new jobs. Below is a list of some of the easiest methods you can use to improve a work-life balance. 

1. Remote Work

Once something only the work elite had, working from home became more of the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. While it may have started as a necessity, this has become one of the most common ways to hire and retain employees.

During the pandemic, many people discovered they liked working from home and being in the comfort of their house all day long. It also eliminated long commutes for many, allowing them to get more sleep and have more of their valuable time back.

Others relished the ease of childcare, especially when both parents were working from home at the same time. This saved young families thousands of dollars in childcare costs. 

While working from home isn’t possible in every position, you should take the time to see if any of the positions with high turnover can be moved to work from home. It can be helpful to look at similar jobs in your field for comparison.

It can be difficult for an especially hands-on manager to let go of looking over an employee’s shoulder all day, but if you set clear KPIs for an employee to meet, this can give you a clear overlook of how the employee is working even if they aren’t under your watchful eye all day long. 

Either way, as difficult as it may be to change some positions to permanently work from home, it can go a long way towards retaining top talent. 

2. Hybrid Work

The reality is, that it may not always be possible to allow all of your employees to work from home. In these cases, take a look at a hybrid working program.

A hybrid working program could include your employee coming into the office just one or two days per week for meetings, and remaining at home the other three days. It can also mean only allowing work from home once per week, whatever your industry allows.

Even though this won’t keep an employee that truly wants to be home all week long, this can help a family that is struggling with childcare costs, as even a single day a week’s work from home can be a huge boost to morale. 

3.  Flexible Hours

It’s time to face it, the nine-to-five grind is not for everyone. If your company can manage it, you should allow your employee to work at whatever hours they want, as long as they work a certain amount of hours a day. 

In 2022, the United States is one of the only countries that still work a traditional schedule of five days a week. Many European companies have switched to a 38-hour workweek, and in places like Spain, the work day includes a morning portion, an afternoon siesta (nap) then an evening portion.

Take a look at your employees and decide what hours you truly need them on the clock. For example, if you have team meetings on Mondays at 10 am, then say all employees must log in to zoom at that time. Otherwise, allow your employees to work whenever it is convenient for them.

Chances are most of your employees will continue to work nine-to-five as many enjoy the routine. But some people are night owls and getting up at eight in the morning has them unproductive until noon. Allowing them to work when they want will let them get the sleep they  need while increasing their overall productivity. 

4. Consider a Compressed Work Week

While you are reviewing the idea of allowing an employee to work when they want to increase the work-life balance, you should also consider offering a compressed work week option. A compressed work week would allow an employee to work 4 ten hour days instead of 5 days per week.

While the compressed work week isn’t for everyone, it will allow an employee who has a passion such as skiing, ample time off to pursue this passion every weekend. When you offer this to them, this will increase their work-life balance in a positive way. 

It can also give an employee who has a lot of medical appointments one day per week on which to schedule them, without them having to request to come in late or leave early. 

5. Look at Job Sharing

As the labor market becomes more grim, it can be difficult to find someone who has the time to take on a full-time job. One way to remedy this is to consider job sharing.

Job sharing is where you have two part-time employees share a single position. You could also have a handful of freelancers take on the position of a single individual. Either option allows those who are working the position more freedom.

With this freedom comes an increased labor market, as a new mother who previously couldn’t work at all could possibly have her parents watch the baby for 2 days a week to allow her to work part of a position. In the same way, freelancers can accomplish the job for cheaper, on their own time, and not take up space in an office.

No matter which forms of job sharing you use, it is a huge step towards establishing a work-life balance with an employee and should be offered during an exit interview when an employee is leaving for reasons that involve work-life balance issues. 

6. Offer Personal Days

Many companies offer their employees some form of vacation time combined with some form of sick leave. What they neglect, however, is the days in between when an employee may need to have a minor medical procedure done or have a sick child to care for.

This leaves the employee torn between calling in sick or having to receive discipline for taking an unpaid day off. One way to improve the work-life balance is by allowing your employees to take personal days.

Personal days should be separate from sick days and they should be allowed to be taken by the employee at any time. They should also be separate from vacation, meant to cover the occasional day where the employee needs some time off to get something done.

These types of days of work can help an employee prioritize their mental and physical health while they keep the work-life balance in check. The best part is, they don’t have to be excessive (as they are in addition to sick time and vacation time) and even offering just 4-5 a year can go a long way in retaining an employee. 

7. Ask Employees What they Need

Not all employees are facing the same challenges in life, so one of the best ways to increase work-life balance is by outright asking employees what you can do to increase theirs.

Some employees may mention items that are already on this list, while others may have unique requests. Even if the request is weird, take time to consider it and see if it is possible, if not, look into offering a compromise. 

Here are some questions you can ask to help open the lines of communication regarding your employees’ work-life balance:

  • Do you take your work home? If so, how frequently?
  • Do you check work emails at home?
  • Do you have all the time off you need to see friends and family?
  • Have you put off medical appointments because of work?
  • Have you missed a personal event because of a work commitment?
  • Do you have ample time to pursue your hobbies?
  • Do you feel your work-life balance is respected in your position?
  • How many hours of sleep do you get on a work night?
  • Do you feel your manager is empathetic to your needs?

Take the answers into account and see what you can do to improve the work-life balance at your company. You never know what simple thing you can do to increase the work-life balance of your employees!

A woman laughs at her desk as she works on a laptop.
Constantly replacing employees who leave due to no work-life balance is expensive. 

Why Retaining Employees is Important

You may be looking at the above list and think it is a tall ask for a company that doesn’t have a lot of money to spare. But know this, retaining employees is much cheaper than hiring new ones.

Not only that, but employees not experiencing a fair work-life balance is a huge drain on the talent of a company. The employees who perform the best are the ones that have the time they need to pursue their needs and passions while off the clock. 

You will not get anywhere with an employee that is burned out, and this will only set your company back more than addressing the problem of a work-life balance before it becomes a problem.

Ready to Retain More Employees?

Whether you implement a flexible hours program, or maybe allow your employees to work from home, increasing the value of a work-life balance will go a long way toward retaining employees. In this difficult marketplace, if you don’t work to retain employees, you will quickly find that there isn’t talent available to fill the positions you need to hire for.

Overall, a work-life balance doesn’t look the same for everyone and you should take the time to find out what your employees need. Once you do you’ll be surprised how easy it is to keep talent.

If you have already lost a few employees, make the aforementioned changes, then take a look at what every hiring manager needs to know before you work to attract new talent to ensure your company is on the right path towards finding great future employees. 

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