The topic in the November/December 2022 issue of BoxScore discussed the importance of “connectivity” and embracing the digital technologies that work to maintain the synergy among people, processes, and related technologies. The unfortunate part of this connectivity is that workdays can be never-ending, all seven of them. When and how do we disconnect, recharge, and refresh?
Work-life balance is not something you can give or mandate within your organization. It is something individuals need to take for themselves. Employers have seen and need to recognize that this balance is essential for employee well-being. Employee well-being equals employee retention, increased productivity, and reduced burnout. Proper work-life integration is about the flexibility and accountability to prioritize and take care of your personal and professional responsibilities, with the ability to mentally switch gears and disconnect from one or the other.
Since “work” is no longer the traditional 9–5 for most of us and not a “place” for many of us, technology makes integrating and blending our professional and personal lives easier—and more difficult—by allowing us to be connected anywhere and everywhere. How do we combat a work-life imbalance created by this 24/7 connectivity? It is not necessary for us to be available to others when we should be more focused and present in our surroundings and the people in our immediate company. The following are some methods that have worked for companies interested in helping their employees seek this balance:
Emphasize the importance of attention management and offer skills training. Attention management training stresses the importance of creating an environment that enables employees to maximize their focus, eliminate distractions, and complete their tasks. These skills are more important than time management skills and contribute to higher productivity. Attention management focuses on how to motivate yourself and control your own task load instead of focusing on time, a dimension that nobody can control. Control your environment and your technology, and you will begin to control your attention.
Set expectations around work hours, vacations, and hours of communication within your company. The majority of our business communications do not require an immediate response. Set standards for proper methods of communication, availability, and priority. Give employees permission to set boundaries that focus on productivity and not just hours worked.
Effective leaders model the balance that keeps people motivated and inspired while encouraging them to take time for themselves. Remind and discuss the importance for team members to use vacation time, and then take an interest in hearing about their vacations. Some companies even contribute to “paid, paid vacations” with the stipulation that the employee completely disconnect in order to qualify—sign me up and bill me later!
Start fresh every day and win the day, but don’t forget to end the day.
Tim Connell is director of sales at A.G. Stacker and vice Chair of AICC’s Associate board.