Striking that perfect balance between career and family has always been a challenge for American workers, and since COVID 19, it’s become harder due to many employees working from home. Work-life balance involves juggling workplace stress with the daily pressures of family, friends, and self. The outcome is that the employee has a greater sense of control and ownership over their own lives and a better relationship with their employer. Balanced employees tend to feel more motivated and less stressed out at work, which increases productivity and reduces the number of conflicts among coworkers and management.
Companies who gain a reputation for encouraging work-life balance become attractive to skilled workers and have higher employee retention rates. Studies show that employees who have a positive work-life balance are more engaged and productive at work. Companies that encourage employees to find that balance have a more reliable and innovative team. Today I am going to give you an exercise you can use to help your employees become aware of how they spend their time and support them to find a balance between life and work.
The exercise is called “8+8+8,” which translates into the 24 hours in the day and life of an employee. Eight hours for sleep, eight hours for work, and eight hours for everything else. Helping employees to take an objective look at their life, what they have going on, and how much time they spend doing it, is a win-win gift that can help them become more productive at work and home.
Eight hours for sleep
How many of you laugh at this number? Either there is no way that you get 8 hours of sleep, or maybe you’re sheepish because you sleep any chance you get? We all know how important sleep is; it’s the time for your body to rest and restore. I’m not here to preach to you about getting adequate sleep. You know the truth and how long you stay up binge-watching or scrolling on your phone. I’m just here to remind you how important sleep is and then let you take it from there.
Eight hours for work
Let me guess. You’re laughing at this number too? When you include time getting ready for work and travel time, the 8-hour workday turns into ten. That’s fifity hours a week that cuts into the other two eight-hour periods in your life. We spend more time at work than we do with our families! If we want to get consistent balance and well being from anywhere, it will need to be at work because that is where we spend most of our time.
Eight hours for everything else
This is where it gets real, my friends. You’re not laughing now, unfortunately. These eight hours consist of preparing and eating three meals, grocery shopping, drive time, laundry, cleaning house, yard work, errands, paying bills, and family time. Oh, I forgot about exercising, watching tv, washing the dishes, doing homework with the kids, and walking the dog.
If you want to do what’s beneficial for your company, empower your employees to control their work and home lives. It will increase their job satisfaction, performance, and profits. The exercise below is supportive of employee wellbeing and a useful tool to facilitate during a staff meeting or email out to your team.
1. Use a blank page on your computer, cell phone app, or good old-fashioned paper and create three columns:
1. My Life
2. Write a list of all the activities you do in your life under the “my life” column.
Brain dump all the activities you have to do in a week–or should do. Dump with reckless abandon and take a good look at all that you have going on in your life.
3. Take a moment to look at the list and then do your best to break it down into seven-days increments. If you can’t, then start looking at the things you can let go of. Do you have to say yes to everything your family has going on? Can you limit the amount of time you watch TV?
4. Take five minutes to brainstorm your sleep situation and how you can make it better.
How much sleep are you getting? What time do you go to bed? What time should you go to bed? Do you have a hard time sleeping? What can you do to remedy that?
5. Take five minutes to brainstorm your work situation and how you can make it better.
How much time do you spend getting to work? Can you be more productive during that time? Do you spend a lot of time at the company teapot that cuts into your productivity time? Do you check company emails on your time off?
This exercise gives employees perspective on how they use their time and inspiration to use it more productively.
In conclusion, no one likes to take life advice from a hypocrite. If managers in your company respond to emails while on vacation, it sends a message to your employees that they will be expected to as well. Respecting your employees’ privacy and work-life balance will increase productivity, satisfaction, and company loyalty.