Work and life balance means something different to everyone. Businesses that value work and life balance have a culture where they believe a person’s time outside of work is just as valuable as their time spent at the office. Many companies say their number one goal is work and life balance for their employees but most of the time we hear candidates who are job hunting say the reason they are looking to leave is for more work and life balance.
In 2015 my company was acquired and my role was part of the redundancy of two companies merging together. I was pregnant at the time and decided now was as good of a time as any to stay home with my three little girls.
Prior to staying home, I had enjoyed great work and life balance. So great in fact, I was spoiled. I could make my schedule work for me and my family, while still doing engaging human resource work for my company. I knew when I decided to head back to the workforce last year, that work life balance was top on my list. With three kids under seven who needed shuffled to and from school, practices, and dance etc.… and a husband with a job that was demanding of time, I knew that it was necessary for me to find a place to settle that would help me keep some sanity. Working with Acacia HR Solutions enabled me to do just that.
One of the advantages of being a small business, is that you can create an environment that is different than your competitors and one that fits your vision. At Acacia HR Solutions, we make our own hours and as long as the work is getting done and we are supporting our clients, it doesn’t really matter if you are doing your day job at Starbucks or after the kids go to bed.
So here are my work and life balance tips for small businesses and how to use it to you your advantage:
Work and Life Balance as a Recruitment Tool
Maybe you can’t offer top wages or top benefits at your small business, but studies show employees would forgo a higher salary or benefits to have work and life balance. If your employees have grueling commutes to work, let them pick day each week they can work from home. Make sure to put guidelines around it like what is expected while they are working from home, such as what kind of availability they must have (i.e. be online by 9am each day).
If you aren’t ready to go the remote route, even just allowing employees to have flexibility to leave early get to their kids soccer game or come in late to take the dog to the groomer is beneficial to people.
When you are discussing your culture during the recruitment process, be sure to include work life balance as a perk. Sell it by making it prominent in your job posting. Woo top-notch candidates by placing this information in a values section posting not hidden at the very bottom. If you have it… flaunt it!
Work and Life Balance as an Engagement Tool
There is a direct correlation between commitment and engaged employees. Employees who are committed to the cause are more engaged and vice versa.
Want to know the secret to making employees feel committed and engaged to your business? Give them flexibility and autonomy to do their tasks and also take care of their home and personal responsibilities. I guarantee you that those employees will be the ones to do whatever it takes to grow your small business when it’s an all hands-in kind of day or week.
Today’s workforce is multi-generational and millennials aren’t the only generation looking for work and life balance. Find out what drives your employee engagement both in and outside of work. Then use that to create programs to engage employees and keep them committed to your small business when you need them the most.
Work and Life Balance as a Productivity Tool
Heard the early bird gets the worm? Or the term night owl? Well people have different productivity levels throughout the day. One time I enrolled in a productivity training and we charted and mapped out when we felt the most productive in the day. I ebbed and flowed. I had two hours in the am, pm and evening where I would just churn out lots of great stuff. But there were also times where I just struggled to concentrate.
So, what did I learn?
To schedule my high value tasks during those peak productive hours and do the menial tasks or ones that didn’t require a lot of thought during my non-peak productive hours. What does this mean for small businesses? Figure out when and how your employees want to work and allow them the flexibility to work during their productive hours. There also may be times that they need to work during crunch time, but if the payoff is some flexibility later when the task is complete they will work more productively to get the job done.
So in conclusion, don’t just think of work and life balance as another Human Resource buzzword. Find a way to make it work for your small business whether you use it as a recruiting tool, an engagement tool or a productivity booster, heck or even all of the above. What is important is that you take a look at your business and figure out what and how you can support more work and life balance for your employees and the rewards will come along.