7 tips for winning the work-life balance game

A 4 minute read written by Danielle October 7, 2015

7 tips for winning the work-life balance game

As the Director of Team at Yellow Pencil I take the lead on hiring activities, which means I get to meet with all of our candidates when we’re looking to fill a position. One of the most common questions I get asked by interviewees is “What is your favourite thing about working at Yellow Pencil?” And time after time I find myself speaking to the company’s outlook on work-life balance.

Yellow Pencil has a lot of great things to offer — and don’t get me wrong I cherish our company ski trips and the endless supply of coffee — but the flexibility I am afforded tops the list (right after the people: my co-workers are pretty fantastic!).

Work-life balance isn’t just important to me, it is also a huge benefit to the company. In our job advertisements we note that working at Yellow Pencil means work-life balance because “We like that people have lives outside of the office,” and as crazy as it sounds, we truly mean it. When our team gets mental breaks it allows them to come in the next day energized and ready to kill it.

At Yellow Pencil we happen to really like our team and think their lives outside of the office are what make them more interesting. And it’s no secret that work-life balance perks increase talent attraction and retention. Most job seekers today are looking for companies that offer flexibility so their free time can be spent travelling, with family and pursuing other hobbies and education. Additionally, work-life balance reduces burnout and increases productivity and employee appreciation for their employers. Sounds pretty good, right?!?!

If you’re looking to boost your company’s work-life balance game, just follow these seven simple tips.

1. Implement work-from-home policies

When a team member has to take a day off to sit at home and wait for a parcel to be delivered it sucks for them and it’s an interruption for the team and company. Why lose a day of productivity when that team member could just as easily get the work done from home? Create a simple set of expectations for work from home (e.g. availability, responsiveness, and working hours), communicate them to your team, and learn that you don’t need to physically see your team to recognize that they’re doing great work.

2. Introduce weekly flex time

Encourage your team members to use their vacation days to recharge, travel, or do something they love. Taking a vacation day to get your car into the mechanic is not relaxing. At all. If team members have flex time, they can make up for missed time later in the week and save their vacation days for something more rewarding and reduce the chance of burnout.

3. Discourage overtime

Make sure your team gets time outside of the office so they can come back to work refreshed and inspired. They’ll love the work and the office more if they get breaks from it — like they say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

4. Let the team pick their own hours

They probably know when they’re most productive better than you do, so if you insist on having Bob Whosnotamorningperson come in at 7 a.m. you’re likely going to lose a lot of coffee and productivity. At YP we have a small window of core hours and let our team decide when they’d like to start work each day. This goes a long way for team members who have to work around school schedules and/or childcare for kids, as well as people who have evening commitments like sport practices or night classes.

5. Encourage learning

Give your team learning incentives. We do this by offering our team annual education allowances, paid education days (for when learning takes them outside the office) and even encourage learning throughout the work day. As a result, we get sharper pencils. Find ways to get your team engaged in personal and professional development within the workday and they’ll not only feel like their life goals are being satisfied, but they’ll probably also make your company better.

6. Introduce fitness perks

Exercise is important for de-stressing and staying healthy. If your team is sedentary for most of the day, find ways to get them active throughout the day or after work. We offer monthly fitness subsidies to our team to use for gym memberships, drop-in classes, or sport team memberships. Talk to your team and figure out what’s appetitive for them; there are lots of options. You could also follow our lead and start your own hockey team!

7. Be flexible

This is most important. Work-life balance is about flexibility, the flexibility for people to do their best at work and still have a life. Not every team or team member is going to be the same, so get to know your people and figure out what they need to feel balanced.

I recently saw a car advertisement on television that asked, “When did leaving work on time become an act of courage?” Having a life outside of the office shouldn’t take courage, instead it should be encouraged. Employers, help your team achieve some harmony in their struggle for work-life balance, and I assure you that your people and your company will be better for it!

Do you have work-life balance tips to share? We’d love to hear them. Send me an email or post them in the comments below.