Work, sleep, and watch TV — those are the top three things that Americans do, based on insights from the American Time Use Survey, compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
During the workweek, Americans spent an average of 9 hours and 20 minutes working each day in 2017, up slightly from 9 hours and 11 minutes in 2003.
It’s no wonder that — by the time we get done with work — all we have the energy to do is watch TV and sleep.
For working parents, there’s also kids to be picked up from school, dinner to be prepared for the family, bedtime routines to be performed, and lunches to be prepped for the next day. Factor in dish duty, laundry and other household chores and it’s the recipe for feeling overwhelmed.
The demands from work and home have quickly added up — resulting in a burnout crisis for companies. Nearly 23 percent of 7,500 full-time employees surveyed said they feel burned out at work often or always, according to a Gallup study. An additional 44 percent of employees said they felt burned out sometimes.
Make work-life balance something you don’t just talk about, but practice at every level of the organization.
Find out how to identify the people who feel burned out — and how to use that data to develop effective work-life balance strategies for employees.
The Implications of Workplace Burnout
It’s often difficult for managers to tell if their employees are struggling with work-life balance — until it’s too late.
By then, the employee is already interviewing for a different job that offers greater flexibility and support — and that’s the best-case scenario.
If they do stay, it can have serious implications on the individual experiencing workplace burnout — and others.
High-stress jobs can take an emotional and physical toll on employees. Job stressors such as perceived low rewards, a toxic work environment and long work hours can speed up the onset of heart disease, including the likelihood of heart attacks, according to the American Psychological Association.
Workplace burnout can also result in increased errors at work, which is particularly concerning in the healthcare industry. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in American hospitals each year, reported Forbes, based on insights from a Johns Hopkins study.
People are literally working themselves to death — and putting the lives of others at risk in the process.
Practical Strategies To Help Employees Improve Work-Life Balance
There are a number of things that employers can do to help their employees strike a better work-life balance, including:
1. Measure employee mental and physical health. Throughout the year, we pulse questions to your employees, based on the six key domains of “human flourishing” (validated research by Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health). One of those domains is “Mental and Physical Health.” Based on their self-reported answers, employees will be given a “Mental and Physical Health” score. This allows you to see collectively, “How many people need our support with their mental and physical health right now?”
2. Focus on creating a regenerative workplace. In order for employees to feel like they can prioritize their needs, they have to feel supported by their managers and work policies. A regenerative workplace provides an environment in which employees have the resources they need to develop and flourish in work and in life, according to SHINE. Before you can develop effective work-life balance strategies for employees, you have to make sure your foundation is order.
3. Implement flexible work policies. Maybe one of your employees wants to bring in cupcakes to his daughter’s class for her birthday. Or another employee’s washing machine broke and she’d like to work remotely on the day a new one is scheduled to arrive. Giving employees the ability to work flex hours or remotely, especially if they have a long commute, gives them the opportunity to take care of the things (and people) that matter to them.
4. Offer opportunities to bring their families into work. You’ve heard of “Bring Your Child Into Work Day,” and we’re all about it. But what about bringing in your parents? LinkedIn launched a “Bring In Your Parents Day” last year, as a way for employees to thank their parents for all that they’ve taught them. Some offices also let you bring fur babies (think Cocker Spaniels or Golden Retrievers) into work. Just make sure to keep a few lint rollers handy.
5. Support better sleep. Encourage managers to hold off on sending work emails to their employees after 4 p.m. By doing so, managers will help employees leave work on time — and prevent them from checking work emails before bedtime.
6. Lead by example. Share work-life balance tips from your executives in a company-wide email. Include pictures of them actually practicing work-life balance — even during work hours. Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., takes the stairs every day, gym bag in hand, at their seven-story headquarters in San Francisco. It wasn’t just about the exercise, he said. It was about showing people that, if the CEO could make time to go to the gym during the workday, they could do it, too. Give employees permission to take care of themselves first.