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The Balancing Act of Work-Life Balance

The Balancing Act of Work-Life Balance

How many times have you sat at your desk eating lunch while still working? Have you ever felt guilty about taking your break? How many times have you worked through your break telling yourself that you will take a break later? If you are guilty of these, don’t worry – you’re not alone, and your team is feeling similar. In fact, studies show that employees are working longer hours than usual, especially with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has definitely changed the way we work, making it more difficult to redefine the boundaries between your professional and personal lives. In fact, the stress level of employees has increased by 20 percent since 1990. Maintaining a culture of work-life balance has become a greater challenge, especially when boundaries are blurred and employees are working more hours than before, all while organizations and individuals are adapting to these changing times. 

When Work-Life Balance Fails

It is evident that teams are failing to prioritize work-life balance as they struggle to navigate through this new way of work, which has led to a lack of productivity, creativity, motivation, and more. With 50% of employers failing to support their employees physical well-being, work-life balance will continue to fall. 

When leaders fail to instill work-life balance into their team, their emotional, physical, and mental health crumbles. With additional work hours allotted into our schedule, employees are more likely to experience mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. Research has shown that employees who work more than 55 hours per week are at a higher risk of a heart attack and stroke. The end result: your team is feeling stressed more than ever. 

Not only do teams feel stressed with their growing workloads, but this stress is snowballing into bigger issues, such as employee absenteeism. Think about it – if your team is feeling stressed, chances are if they aren’t physically absent, they are mentally absent. Absenteeism can affect productivity, finances, and workplace morale, which directly impacts the bottom line. Beyond the financial impact, with 30% of your team not feeling motivated, teams are procrastinating in failing to progress which inhibits growth potential in the individuals, and the organization as a whole.  

Now you may be wondering, if the repercussions of poor work-life balance are severe, then why don’t we prioritize it better? Although every team is different, there are some universal emotional intelligence tactics you can bring into your team to mitigate some of the work-life balance concerns, 

Balance It Out with Emotional Intelligence

A key component in effectively managing your team’s work-life balance is helping them tune into their emotional intelligence. Their EQ competencies will help in managing their work-life balance. As a leader, it begins with listening to their own emotions, to ensuring they feel acknowledged and heard. 

Listed below are some crucial EQ competencies that will assist your team in finding their work-life balance. 

Self Awareness

Self Awareness is all about understanding yourself, from your needs to your emotions, Once your team becomes in tune with themselves and can understand what they need, they will be able to set boundaries. Being self aware can also assist your team in recognizing when work-life balance is falling apart. Acknowledging when current work-life needs to be prioritized is one of the first steps to improvement. 

Self Actualization

Self Actualization is the drive to continually improve yourself through engaging in activities and objectives that lead to a fulfilling and enjoyable lifestyle. Individuals on the path to self actualization live by their values; they know and are continuously on the lookout for activities that give their life meaning and purpose. Knowing what fulfills your team will help support you in creating more work-life balance for them. Encouraging your team to allocate time for these activities in their personal lives will ultimately contribute to their happiness and productivity at work. 

Assertiveness

Being assertive is associated with communicating your emotions, beliefs, and opinions openly, in a non-offensive manner. Assertiveness assists in standing your ground when it comes to work-life balance. Leaders need to stimulate conversation around communicating boundaries within the team, and set guidelines for when the line is crossed. If boundaries have been overstepped, assertiveness will support your team in communicating that to leadership, so that they are aware of the boundaries and won’t repeat the same mistake. 

Improve Your Work-Life Balance 

Now that you are aware of which EQ competencies will assist your team the most in managing their work-life balance, try these two strategies to enhance your organization’s work-life balance culture!  

Unplug and Unwind

It is easy to become accustomed to the 24/7 work culture, especially in a digital world. You find yourself telling your team members that you’re only an email or message away, but boundaries need to be in place so that you’re not attached to your job all day. The same boundaries are important to encourage throughout the entire organization. For example, instead of sending your email after the team has logged off for the day, try and save it for the morning to allow them to unplug and unwind for the day. Some tips to instill in your team for proper communication boundaries are below.

– Remove work communications once your workday has ended.
– Set notifications to turn off after you clock out.
– Inform others of the decision, so they are aware of the appropriate response times

Encourage Setting Boundaries

While it’s great to have a team that is always accepting new opportunities, it’s even more crucial to know their limits so that you can effectively manage their workload. 

Communicate to your team that they don’t have to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity you give them. Encourage your team to set that boundary by instead of saying ‘yes’, say ‘Yes and….’. For instance, let’s say your employee has a report due tomorrow, but you ask if they’re able to help you prepare for an upcoming meeting. 

The employee is aware that if they take this on, it will impede on the time they have set to work on the report due tomorrow. Instead of immediately saying “yes”, create a safe space where they can inform you of their workload by saying “Yes I could help you in preparing for the upcoming meeting, and something that is on my plate is the report that is due tomorrow. If I help you out, this will affect my schedule to work on the report, could I get an extension on the report?” 

By encouraging boundary setting, everyone will be aware of the workload and the team can make adjustments as necessary. If your team does not voice their concerns, their workload threshold will max out, creating a negative impact on their work life balance. 

The Balancing Act of Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is crucial to maintaining productivity, positive workplace morale, and a healthy bottom line in the organization. In return, your team’s stress levels will lessen, helping to mitigate the costs of absenteeism. By tuning into your emotional intelligence, you will be able to better manage your team’s work-life balance, and instill a culture of wellbeing and balance that encourages healthy boundary setting.

Do you need help in enhancing your team’s work-life balance? Book a call with us here – we’re here to listen and help you find the perfect balance. 

Interested in learning more about setting boundaries? Check out our blog, Setting Realistic Business Boundaries for 2021 to see how you can implement strategies to respect your team members’ boundaries at work! 

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Setting Realistic Business Boundaries for 2021

Setting Realistic Business Boundaries for 2021

The past year has undeniably changed the way we work. Returning to the office full time has been put on hold, and remote work has taken over. With remote work as our “new normal”, the issue of maintaining work-life balance has come to light. The truth is, boundaries between professional and personal lives are now blurred. A study by Bloomberg found that employees around the world are now working more than ever before, with employees in Canada, USA, and the UK, working as much as 10 hours per day. 

With your new office in the comfort of your own home, it’s easy to stay in your work mode and never stop. However, as we mentioned in Breaking Up with Being Busy, when employees are overworked, it can have adverse effects on their performance, productivity, and emotional well-being. 

Business leaders need to instill the message that it is okay to set boundaries in their work day to their team members. Boundaries do not have to be physical and tangible, but can also take form as emotional and intangible limits. Once these boundaries are stated, leaders need to acknowledge and respect these expectations and boundaries. With such a fine line dividing personal and professional lifestyles, setting boundaries will prevent the team from crashing and burning. By establishing boundaries, leaders will see a stronger culture, increased productivity, and higher employee retention within their team. 

Setting Boundaries with Emotional Intelligence

Leaders need to understand that everyone has different boundaries. There is no complete set of boundaries that will work for everyone in your team. Setting realistic boundaries begins with knowing your employees on an individual level. One way to understand your team on a deeper level is by tuning into your emotional intelligence. 

Emotional intelligence is beneficial in building relationships with others; by effectively managing your emotions, you will be able to notice how your emotions impact your relationships. A strong foundation between a leader and their subordinates is formed from a basis of understanding and acknowledging individual differences. 

Below, we have highlighted strategies on how to set clear boundaries with your team, by using your emotional intelligence competencies! 

1. Understanding Your Team Member’s Needs 

As highlighted above, it is essential to understand what works best for your team. Take time to ask your employees how you can best support them, by asking them questions such as, “What is your ideal work environment?” or “What is your preferred method of communication?”. By obtaining a sense of their preferred conditions, you will be able to adapt your practices to build an environment suited towards their needs. For example, one employee’s ideal work environment may start off later than the usual 9-5 schedule, as they dedicate their mornings to caring for their children. To assist in this transition, a leader can offer flexible working hours. Instead of starting at 9am, allow your team member to start at 10am so they have the extra hour to tend to their kids. 

Your emotional intelligence competencies of flexibility and empathy will aid you in understanding your team’s needs. Flexibility is the ability to adapt emotions, thoughts and behaviors to unfamiliar situations. Being flexible will allow you to implement new solutions in creating boundaries for your team. In addition, empathy is concerned with recognizing, understanding, and appreciating how others feel. Leading with empathy will make your team members feel heard, seen, and cared for. Taking the time to understand your employees’ needs should not be optional. Rather, it should be seen as a required step in effective team management. 

2. Ask for Feedback

Again, there is no formula in establishing boundaries. Boundaries need to be catered towards an individual’s needs. Once you have a clear understanding of your team member’s needs, it’s time to create an action plan to make any necessary changes, then follow up with asking for feedback. Obtaining feedback is crucial so you know what is working well and what needs to be refined. Garnering feedback from your team members shows how you truly care; it is within your best interest to respect their boundaries. 

This is where your emotional intelligence competency, reality testing, kicks in. Reality testing is the capability to remain objective by seeing things as they are; this competency enables you to realize that while something may work for one team member, may not necessarily work for another. By tuning into your reality testing, you are actively challenging your assumptions as you find the perfect set of boundaries for each team member. Additionally, emotional expression is another competency that can assist in gathering feedback. Emotional expression is all about openly expressing your emotions, either verbally or nonverbally. Asking for feedback is a form of emotional expression; you are exhibiting vulnerability, are demonstrating you care about your team members’ opinions, and that their feedback will have an impact on your actions. 

3. Make Time for Breaks

It is easy to fall into the habit of continuously working, that you forget to take a break to recharge. As mentioned in Breaking Up with Being Busy, hustle culture is taking the world by storm and emphasizes the need to be busy all the time in order to be successful. Break the cycle of hustle culture and hold your team accountable for taking breaks. As a leader, communicate that it is okay to take a break, instead of continuously working into overdrive. If breaks are not taken, team members are likely to become easily exhausted, resulting in lower quality of work, decreased productivity, and poor emotional health. Implementing breaks into the workday gives team members time to unwind and relax their minds. These breaks can be as simple as taking a stretch break midway through team meetings, to allowing team members to take longer breaks if they feel the need to. 

The two competencies that will assist you to make time for breaks is your Social Responsibility and Impulse Control. Social Responsibility involves acting in the best interest of the group; by implementing breaks, you know that the team will benefit from taking a breather. Impulse Control is the act of resisting or delaying an temptation; this competency equips leaders to avoid acting upon rash behaviours. Continuously working without breaks can result in fatigue, meaning that you or your team members are not working at optimal performance. Impulse control will prevent you from making any brash decisions while exhausted and remind you to take a break instead. 

The Results of Setting Realistic Business Boundaries

When you set realistic business boundaries among your team, you will see results impacting your team’s productivity, culture, and overall happiness. Your team members will feel valued as their individual needs are met, allowing their productivity and effectiveness to flourish. In addition, your team culture will benefit, as you cultivate an environment of trust, respect, and understanding. By building a work environment catered to your team members’ needs, your team will be happier and want to stay for years to come. 

Learning how to establish boundaries is essential to a successful organization. If you’re interested in learning more about how to set boundaries in your team, reach out and book an appointment with me here

For more, you can also check out my Stress Management Strategies Workshop, where you will learn strategies to manage stressful situations and methods to alleviate stress.  

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