Have you ever had an employee who failed to perform at his highest level because of personal problems? It can be frustrating when someone’s personal life impacts his professional life in a negative way. Many employers simply tell their people to keep their personal problems out of the workplace. But there’s a problem with that approach.
Ultimately, you cannot separate a person’s work life from his personal life. Trying to do so will frustrate you and alienate your employee. Instead of seeking to separate an employee’s personal life from his work life, I’ve learned that it’s best to acknowledge that work and life are intertwined.
Once we understand that work and life are inseparable, then we can lead our people in ways that support them at work and at home.
For the past few weeks, we have been talking about what a strong, inspiring culture looks like.
The ERC (Employers Resource Council) compiled a list of characteristics of “great workplaces that excel at the attraction, retention, and motivation of top performers” based on 15 years of surveys and interviews. 
Supporting work/life balance in the workplace corresponds with an attribute in the ERC report.
ERC noted the following about great workplaces:
Great workplaces are flexible to employees' work/life needs and encourage work/life balance by offering flexible schedules, providing generous paid time off, accommodating individual requests and needs, and creating a supportive work environment that is understanding of personal and family obligations.
Every leader can improve their culture by incorporating work/life balance into their workplace.
As a key leader in your company, you may be wondering what you can do to support and encourage a healthy work/life balance in your workplace. It turns out there are multiple ways to show and communicate this to your people.
Here are some ways that we encouraged work/life balance in our company:
- We did not penalize or discipline employees for occasional attendance issues. Especially, when the employee’s work was completed on time and with excellence.
- We monitored and reviewed employees’ workloads, to help ensure that they were not overloaded and could maintain work/life balance.
- We asked employees to work with their managers concerning their schedule to solve their work/life issues.
- We would modify work schedules to give people part-time options, plus the ability to arrive early or late. We permitted them to attend appointments or miss work without using paid time off (PTO) or vacation time.
- We had a generous PTO/vacation/sick time and also allowed them to bank unused time. We also provided paid holidays, bereavement leave, jury duty leave, and leave of absences.
- Since our business had a peak season during the summer months, we had a PTO Calendar to help people schedule their family vacations. This helped them understand when we had the greatest need for “all hands on deck”, and when they could relax with their families.
As leaders, we can improve our culture by encouraging work/life balance in the workplace. You’ll lead more effectively when your team knows that you care about all aspects of their lives.
How do you encourage work/life balance for your team? – Please leave a comment below.
PS: Here are links to the first eight posts in this series on great workplace cultures.
- How to Win in the Marketplace
- Two Ways Leaders Can Improve Their Cultures
- How to Hire the Right People
- Are You Investing in Training and Development?
- 7 Ways You Can Up Your Communication Game
- The Secret Every Leader Needs to Know
- What Does Dr. Seuss Know About Building an Inspiring Culture?
- An Uncommon Way to Grow Your Business
 yourerc.com “HR Insights Blog” ERC (Employers Resource Council), 5-Sep-2013 (12-Aug-2014).