How Your Company Could Help Employees Achieve Work/Life Balance

Over the past few years, it’s become accepted wisdom that, in order to remain productive, employees need a healthy balance between their work life and their personal life. Businesses that don’t “get” this often learn the hard way that an unhealthy balance leads to lower morale and productivity, as well as higher costs—to the tune of as much as $125-$195 billion a year spent addressing the “psychological and physical problems of burned-out employees.”

At Baillie Lumber, it’s clear to us that employees who grapple unsuccessfully with juggling work responsibilities and personal obligations are those most “at risk” for greater absenteeism or quitting to find employment elsewhere. This theme is no different in the hardwood lumber industry either. We’re committed to helping every member of our team find the balance that’s right for them. WORKLIFE

Here are some principles we strive to support in this area:

Establish guidelines to prevent burnout. Overworked and highly stressed employees can cripple a company’s output and harm its efforts to recruit new workers. Some businesses seek to offset this unfortunate trend by establishing guidelines that reduce or eliminate overwork. Small Business Trends suggests these strategies to “set boundaries” in the workplace such as not promoting the need to check work email messages beyond normal work hours and restricting how many big projects an employee is involved in at any given time. It is also important to note that not everything needs to be addressed immediatly, whether it is an inquiry on Ash, Walnut or Cherry lumber that comes in late at night from overseas, or a social media post from one of our partner sawmills it is important to realize what actually needs to be addressed right away. 

Short work breaks contribute to employee health. As Irish Tech News notes, “The body was not meant to sit down on a chair and stare at a bright screen for hours.” Hard-working employees may not be inclined to take advantage of approved work breaks, so it’s up to the employer to ensure that taking breaks is an accepted workplace policy.

Model the behavior you want to see. Employees look to their leaders for a better understanding of how balancing a job and a life actually work. If the CEO and other executives work around the clock or send and receive emails while on vacation, it’s difficult for employees to behave otherwise. To integrate work/life balance into your company’s culture, examine your own behavior and adopt changes as necessary, in order to demonstrate to others how serious you are about this objective.

Introduce an element of fun. Nobody wants to spend all day, every day, in an environment of “all work and no play.” The idea of having a little bit of fun in the workplace is not antithetical to effective business operations. On the contrary, it contributes to employee work/life balance by offering the chance to let off some steam and bond with fellow workers. We have found this method especially vaulable when trying to nurture the bonds between our team members, whether that be at the office, concentration yard, or sawmill levels. 

When employees come together in an informal setting and engage in friendly, team-bonding activities, the stress level is reduced and there’s a greater sense that “we’re all in this together”—which is a highly desirable outcome for any employer.

Gone are the days when employees felt compelled to stick with a job that raised their stress levels and interfered with the normal joys of their personal lives. Employers who recognize this—and who acknowledge the value of effective work/life balance—are more likely to interest, and retain, the types of employees that truly help their companies grow.

How do you facilitate a better work/life balance for your employees? We would love to hear your thoughts!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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