How Does Work-Life Balance Affect Employee Happiness?
Work-life happiness and unhappiness
Think about a tight-rope walker keeping perfect balance.
That’s kind of what work-life balance is like!
It’s tricky to walk the line between the two worlds though.
Especially because, as we’ve seen, keeping them entirely separate is impossible.
How does work-life balance affect employees?
As our users have pointed out, personal lives and work lives are not mutually exclusive; they affect one another.
Work-life balance can become complicated when one area bleeds into another and starts a cycle of unhappiness.
When work becomes stressful, it’s easy to pass this frustration on to our personal lives.
We talked before about how stress at work can lead to a multitude of health issues.
Aside from health issues, stress or work-related problems can affect personal relationships as well.
Work stress = Unhappy personal life = Unhappy work life
This Huffington Post article states:
“People are working so much that they don’t have the time and energy to maintain work-life balance and healthy relationships.
When things get out of balance and their personal relationship becomes stressed, that stress will seep into their work life.
It seems that personal responsibilities are impinging upon work because work has become so demanding that it prevents people from getting home early to spend time with family.
Or from having time during the day to call their significant other.”
What’s troubling is the cycle of stress that occurs as work-life balance priorities shift and get messy.
Work stress = unhappy personal life = unhappy work life.
When things start to deteriorate at home, people can’t shut off those feelings once they get into work.
This makes it difficult to remain productive, clear-headed and focus on work.
“We hire the whole person”
Dek Tech HR director talked to us about work-life balance and how employee’s personal lives affect their productivity, “…it’s OK to press the red button when you’re a bit down or annoyed. We hire the WHOLE person,” she explains.
“If you’re going through a tough time at home, it will have an effect on your job too. The working environment is part of something bigger. How can we best help or support you when your spirit is low? Everything affects each other.”
This article details how a divorce in someone’s personal life can affect their work life.
According to the article, divorce can take anywhere from four to six months to finalize and during this time, work-life balance is upset, causing: absenteeism, non-productivity, increased sick leave, increased mistakes and even resigning.
This isn’t even taking into account how one employee’s mood affects another employee’s mood.
A while back, we spoke to employees from user Cosatto, a great place to work in the UK. One employee told us that a challenging interaction with a fellow co-worker can change his day from green to red.
If one employee is in a bad mood and takes it out on a co-worker, this creates a sort of chain event.
Or, yet another cycle of unhappiness for another employee!
How can workplaces support employees to help stop this cycle?
Know what the employee morale is and where it’s heading.
Do you know how your employees currently feel?
How is the work happiness (and unhappiness) in your organization?
Knowing what the workplace mood is can help you track where it’s headed and how your actions are affecting job satisfaction.
Did your actions boost morale at work?
If you are able to take a pulse on how employees are feeling and get confirmation when you make changes, you can see how these are reflected with quantitative results.
Talking with employees about how we feel at work
Just installing a device or a software, of course, won’t solve the problem of workplace happiness.
Workplaces have to do something with those results.
This starts with sharing and discussing the results. It’s important to ask employees, how they really feel at work (for those of you who measure with a Celpax, we recommend using “What makes us press green and what makes us press red?”).
Perhaps some conversations should happen in private, whereas others are more suited for focus groups, weekly meetings, etc.
Make it a natural part of your workplace conversations to bring up mental wellbeing.
Do all managers in the company know how to discuss workplace satisfaction and issues with employees?
In an honest and relaxed way? Is it authentic?
Try providing training on how to discuss and deal with personal life issues that may arise, appropriately.
Particularly when it comes to mental health, research shows that most managers have received little or no training. That can make it very scary to have a conversation with an employee. Or even worse, the conversation never even takes place.
Lastly, are you leading by example? Walk the talk.
Confidentiality and an open-door policy
A transparent workplace with an open door and confidentiality policy helps make employees feel comfortable about sharing issues that make them press red or green.
User Cosatto encourages employees to talk about how they feel whenever they feel comfortable to do so.
This emphasizes that happiness is a core value in the company and lets employees know that they are heard and listened to.
Policy for leaves
If employees are divorcing, for example, having policies that allow them to take leave for important appointments and meetings can help relieve some pressure.
Flextime or remote work is easier in some industries than others, but putting a human face on your policy leave, will show you are a company that cares.
There are always things you can do.
Ask your employees how THEY think you could help them achieve better work-life balance.
There might be small things your company can do that you haven’t even though of.
The Celpax device helps managers keep a pulse on how their employees feel at work. Do more of what makes people press green, and find out together how to fix the red. Measure, talk, improve, repeat!