Are you one of the 64 percent of managers who expect their employees to be continually available by email and phone? This figure comes from a recent survey by Workplace Trends, and the ramifications of blurring the boundaries between personal time and work time are concerning. Too often, both employers and employees assume that true dedication means they’re never off the clock – in reality, this inability to leave work behind yields only inefficiency and emotional burnout. Forward-thinking employers support (and even pay) their staff to disconnect completely when they’re not at work.
Weekends and vacations act as mental “reset buttons,” helping workers remain effective by allowing them to refresh themselves and engage fully in other interests. Decades of research show that humans perform better when they have the chance for rest and recuperation. Football coaches encourage players to get plenty of rest before a game, and colleges warn students not to study all night long before a big exam.
An increasing number of businesses now recognize that their workers are more engaged on the job when they have the chance to disconnect. In fact, the CEO of Evernote now pays employees $1,000 to take a vacation in which they stay entirely disconnected from work. FullContact went one step further, offering its employees $7,500 to take non-working vacations.
The trend toward working from home and using personal mobile devices on business trips creates confusion about what constitutes personal time. In addition, the economic pressures of the recent recession have instilled fear in employees that if they take truly disconnected vacations, they might be passed over for promotions.
To encourage your employees to get the mental refreshment they need, here’s a quick list of work-life balance tips:
- Set an example: When you’re not working, let your staff know that you aren’t available by phone or email.
- Make disconnecting during non-work hours a company-wide policy, and publicize it widely.
- Provide assistance with delegating, especially if your employees have a tough time believing it is safe to leave work in a colleague’s hands.
- Reassure workers that you don’t value them on the basis of over-connectedness. Instead, praise them for demonstrating good mental hygiene (as shown by being able to step away from phone and email).
- Incentivize taking all the allotted vacation time.
Even if it takes a bit of effort to break the habit, your organization will benefit from the change in culture. When your employees have the chance to take a true break from work on evenings, weekends, and vacations, they’ll come back with increased productivity and improved morale.