If you’re like many business leaders, you may be forgoing vacation time, spending long hours at work, including nights and weekends, and generally focusing all your attention to ensure your company’s success. This can be particularly true when managing global customers across multiple time zones that require early-morning and late-evening outreach.
While hard work is certainly one of the realities associated with successful business, it’s important to recognize that working to the point that other activities are excluded can land you solidly in the category of a workaholic.
The problem is so pervasive in the United States, in fact, that there’s now an annual “National Workaholics Day,” on July 5. It is “dedicated to people who spend all their time working and tend to ignore other pursuits in life.” There is a difference between being inspired to work a 12-hour day and not seeing daylight for weeks on end. Here are some steps to find the right work-life mix of productivity at work and activities beyond the office—and to ensure your employees do, too.
1. Schedule Down Time, Flex Time and Time Off
Set breaks for everyone in your office during the day, and make sure they take them. You can stagger the breaks by department for minimal impact on operations. Be sure to include the C-suite as well.
Enforce your company’s vacation policy (that includes for you). If some employees feel that taking a block of time will truly be detrimental to what they’re doing, have them work with HR in staggering their days—every Friday, for example, or every Monday.
Implement flex time if you haven’t already, which would be optimal in summer for many employees with children who are out of school and have different schedules.
2. Use Technology to Manage the Unavoidable
If you are conducting business across multiple time zones, there’s nothing you can do about resetting the clocks. But you can allow employees who need to have routine conversations with others in these time zones to do so from home, using Skype or comparable services. It saves some wear and tear on having to get up too early or stay too late.
3. Set Boundaries
Remember that it’s acceptable on occasion to either turn away extra projects or reschedule them, when your employees are maxed out. Although it might sound counterintuitive, you can end up making more money by saying no to one project and focusing more on current work.
Many times you also help the client or customer by pushing back a deadline to one that’s more realistic. It allows your team to do their best work, not simply their fastest. Not all businesses have the luxury of doing this, of course, but if yours does, it’s worth considering.
Too much work can be unhealthy, unproductive and unrewarding. People need to take care of themselves by sleeping, eating right, exercising and spending time with loved ones in order to perform best at work.
4. Unplug and Recharge
Encourage employees to unplug from the internet periodically during work hours so that they can focus uninterrupted attention on a task that requires it. You might find that your people get more accomplished more quickly, and that your overall productivity improves.
While you’re at it, disconnect from work email after hours and encourage your employees to do the same. It’s even a law in France – businesses with 50 or more employees must establish hours that bar employees from sending or receiving work-related emails. It’s called the Right to Disconnect Law.
Even if disconnecting from work and reconnecting with your loved ones, friends and sense of work-life balance is not mandated by law, it’s still an excellent idea. Take the time to take a time out, and you’ll soon find you’re enjoying your life more and remaining more productive to boot.
How have you established a work-life balance for yourself and your employees? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.