Even workers who love what they do crave a reasonable amount of downtime. Unfortunately, a good work-life balance can be tricky to come by these days, with an overwhelming 70% of employees claiming they're not satisfied with theirs. And while it's easy to point a finger and claim that workers put much of that pressure on themselves, a new study by Jobvite reveals that employers are largely to blame.
In fact, 43% of current employees feel encouraged to work on weekends or after hours. Not surprisingly, this sentiment is most prevalent among younger workers, who are more likely than their older counterparts to feel pressured to work nights and weekends, check email after hours, or deal with work issues when they're supposed to be out of the office.
The problem with imposing too many demands on workers, however, is that they run the risk of burning out and having their health and productivity suffer as a result. So rather than create a culture where workers are expected to always be on, it pays to take a step back and recognize the value of giving them a much-needed break.
When employees work too hard
There are several risks involved when employees feel pressured to work too much. First, their health is apt to suffer, which means they're more likely to call out sick and fall behind in the process. Secondly, when workers feel the mental and physical strain of never getting a break, their motivation tends to decline, and their output tends to follow suit.
Sending the message that workers are expected to always be on also puts you at risk of losing key employees who get fed up with that constant pressure. And that can not only impact company productivity, but cost you time and money in onboarding replacements.
Recognizing the need for work-life balance
Allowing employees a chance to maintain a reasonable work-life balance is your best bet for motivating and retaining them. So rather than rely on the same set of individuals when work needs to get done, see about increasing your staff so you have the manpower needed to support your business' needs. If full-time employees aren't in the budget, hire temporary or seasonal staff for periods when things tend to get extra busy.
Additionally, consider implementing an on-call system where workers take turns addressing issues that arise outside of normal business hours. This way, you don't have the same people constantly plugging away, and those who are forced to log on late at night or on weekends can do so with the knowledge that it won't be their turn again for quite some time.
You might also consider investing in technology that allows your staff to work more efficiently, thereby cutting back on the amount of time they're required to spend at their desks. For example, upgrading to a faster software system might shave time off of your workers' daily tasks.
Finally, rather than encourage employees to work every waking hour of the day, make it easy for them to take time off as needed. Offer vacation time and mandate that employees use it. And when your employees are away, make it clear that they're not required to constantly check their email and voice mail to keep tabs on work.
Even the most dedicated of workers reach a point when they need a break. And if you enable them to get that break, they're likely to repay you in hard work and loyalty.
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