Looking to increase employee engagement and boost productivity? Then help employees better manage their work-life conflicts.

Research has repeatedly found companies that foster employee well-being — including a culture that supports people’s commitments outside of work — are more productive and profitable. It also gives organizations greater ability to attract top talent, lower turnover rates, and reduced health costs.

So why do so many work-family policies fall short, leaving employees and employers wondering about their value?

In this article, we will provide some tips on what HR departments and leaders can do in helping employees balance work-life conflicts and build their resilience — a particularly important topic in this currently stressful time.

Are Balanced Leaders Better Performers?

The conventional wisdom is that dedicating oneself thoroughly to a cause usually pays off. However, sacrificing life-balance for career success might just backfire. Research has found that working more hours doesn’t lead to increased productivity; it leads to burnout.

If spending more time on the job was directly proportional to one’s work effectiveness, leaders who are rated by colleagues as having a healthy work and life balance would receive low marks.

But in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders who are rated by coworkers as having healthier work and life balance are seen as significantly more effective in their roles.

Our 360-degree leadership assessments are completed by participants in our leadership development programs on a wide range of behaviors and skills. The assessment asks that leaders be graded on 5 balance issues:

  1. Does the leader strike a reasonable balance between work and private life?
  2. Does the leader act as if there is more to life than just having a career?
  3. Does the leader have activities and interests outside of his or her career?
  4. Does the leader take his or her career so seriously that their personal life suffers?
  5. Does the leader allow job demands to cause family problems?

Essentially, we found that executives and managers who receive higher scores on the balance questions have higher scores on leadership effectiveness, too, with balanced leaders typically scoring 16% higher on effectiveness than less balanced leaders.

Now it’s up to organizations and their leaders to support a more balanced approach to work and life.

Helping Employees Balance Work-Life Conflicts

Unfortunately, many companies simply don’t buy into the idea that helping people better manage work-life conflicts will improve productivity.

In contrast, productive organizations that use human capital effectively take a longer-term perspective on the employment relationship. Quality human resources are seen as a core competency of the organization. People are viewed as assets to be nurtured and developed rather than merely as costs to be minimized.

The truth is employees feel more engaged in their jobs and in their home lives when they are part of healthy work environments. They feel an energetic connection to their work and family activities, which fuels their engagement, productivity, and effectiveness both on and off the job.

Therefore, rather than thinking of work-life conflicts only in terms of policies or benefits, HR teams, top executives, and managers across the organization should focus on creating greater congruence between employer and employee interests.

Here are 3 factors that indicate employee well-being:

  1. Employees feel recognized and valued for good work. They believe that their jobs are a good fit with their abilities and interests. This is key for boosting employee motivation.
  2. Workers believe they’re able to have a career with their employer with “mutual positive social exchange in the employment relationship.” This means they’re paid fairly and job demands aren’t excessive. They don’t feel they have to sacrifice their personal and family well-being in order to perform their jobs. Ensuring that people have a sense of control over their work-life “balance” and boundaries can also significantly help strengthen employee engagement and commitment.
  3. They’re developing skills and knowledge that keep them employable and agile learners in lifelong careers.

You may want to consider whether your organization or department is truly helping your workers to manage any sense of work-life conflict by equipping them to build resilience, which in turn will increase their performance. For example, are there actions your organization can take to show support for adequate sleep or other self-care habits?

In addition, organizations can provide more direct support for their people looking for new strategies to better manage their work-life conflicts by helping them to build tools and routines that help them manage stress and promote peak performance. At CCL, we’ve developed an online resilience program that organizations can use to ensure their people understand the factors that come into play when managing work-life conflicts and boundaries, so that they bring their best selves to their work.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Support your people and your organization by helping them to manage work-life conflicts. Our online resilience program, The Resilience Advantage, offers a practical, scientific approach that will allow your leaders to build their resilience and burn bright, instead of burning out.

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