10 Tips to Improving Work and Family Balance at Your Small Business
October is National Work and Family Month--how are you recognizing it at your small business? Now more than ever it's important to help your team reach an effective work-life balance.
I sat down to write this on a day that my nanny had requested off. My husband and I set to work at our regular time, the office door left open, the TV watching over our two kids (5 and 2), and lots of interrupted time to attend to their needs. This is the life of many working parents as COVID has shuttered schools and daycares and remote working is the new normal for the foreseeable future for many of us.
Work-life balance was a buzz word before the pandemic. Now, after six months (yes, six months!) of work-from-home, this balance may be permanently changed. There have been positive changes for both employers and employees: less time commuting, lower overhead costs, and more time with family.
It is the ‘more time with family’ aspect that I want to focus on today. October is National Work and Family Month.
Established in 2003 by the Alliance for Work-Life Progress, the observance is meant to “promote healthier and more flexible work environments” and to highlight the benefits of supporting work-life balance.
These benefits include:
• Increased productivity
• Higher retention rates
• Slower rise of health-care costs
• Easier to recruit new employees (we can attest to this one!!)
• Better company reputation
In fact, 1 in 3 workers would take a pay cut if it meant they had more work-life balance!
If your company is still operating remotely, then you may feel like you can check off this box. Mission accomplished, right? But as we know, working from home while caring for children, is hardly the ‘balance’ most people had in mind. Moreover, with our increasingly connected work, the workday is no longer just 8-5. Emails, texts, phone calls, are encroaching more and more into leisure time.
If you are interested in creating more ways to support work and family balance for your team, check out these ideas:
Be Intentional: Announce National Work and Family Month in an email or at an all-hands meeting. Share the goals of the month and openly discuss the challenges that COVID has brought to work-life balance.
Form a Committee: Ask for volunteers to come together (even if it’s virtually) to find ways to increase flexibility and balance.
Encourage Calendar Blocking: If there are family obligations or distance learning that need to be attended to, encourage your employees to block off that time from their calendars. Normalize this behavior and ensure employees that it is OK to take time for family so long as they accomplish their work duties.
Institute a Moratorium on After Hours Communications: Schedule after work emails to send out the next morning. Set Slack or Teams to ‘Do Not Disturb.’ If you see an employee routinely working after hours, ask him or her how they can be better supported or what tasks can be off loaded to provide better balance.
Bring in External Support: Find a coach or expert who can provide a presentation or workshop to help employees with work-life balance challenges.
Create a ‘Family Focus’ Challenge: Challenge employees to do something just with their family. Maybe this is a list of family activities with a competition to see who can do the most activities. You can also plan a family-friendly excursion for the whole office. A corn maze or apple picking would be perfect October activities that everyone can do together, (and with social distancing).
Support Family Togetherness at Home: Create a family game night pack for each employee with an all-ages friendly game and snacks, or a movie night pack. If you know the interests of your employees’ children, you can send special activities that are tailored to them (Hint: An employee favorite’s list will come in handy here!)
Don’t Forget Team Members Who Don’t Have Kids: Family means something different for everyone. Pets, significant others, nieces and nephews, close friends—these are all families! Ensure that everyone feels included in National Work and Family Month by not limiting activates to just those employees with children.
Document and Share: Ask your employees to send in photos of themselves spending time with their family. Get a group photo from your Family Focus Challenge. Add a work-life balance section to your About Us page on your website and share on your social media channels. Make this an ongoing and intentional part of your culture in order to attract and retain employees who value balance.
Don’t Stop Once October is Over: Routinely check in with your team about their work-life balance to ensure that it is being enjoyed by everyone.
Erin Longmoon is the CEO of Zephyr Recruiting, which she founded in response to her clients’ needs for help in with building effective and successful teams. Zephyr Recruiting serves the small business community—the mom and pop places that are the backbones of our communities and our economy.