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Why Leaders Must Actively Encourage Work-Life Balance

by Bruce Jones, Programming Director, Disney Institute

As the summer begins to wind down, it’s a great time to touch on the importance of making time for oneself. Finding personal time to recharge is critical for all employees to create a better work-life balance. Surprisingly, a well-deserved vacation is as important to an organization’s overall health as it is to our individual well-being.

According to a recent study by Harvard Business Review (HBR), openly encouraging work-life balance in an organization is a critical factor in building and sustaining higher employee engagement, leading to more commitment to the job, to the team and to the organization itself. In other words, it has a direct impact on employee culture.
Among HBR’s findings: “Employees were more likely to stay with an organization if their bosses encouraged them to take breaks and use their vacation time, and especially if [the leaders] modeled these behaviors themselves.” As we already know, leaders play a critical role in fostering culture, and influencing factors that drive engagement and overall employee satisfaction.
But, what if the opportunity to take vacation simply isn’t possible for you or employees in the near future? It means that finding and encouraging a more beneficial work-life balance is even more important in the short-term, and achieving it will require a greater focus on how everyone spends his or her time.
According to WebMD, here are five tips to help restore balance in the daily work routine. Consider adopting them yourself, and even more importantly, make an intentional effort to share with your employees:
  • Build downtime into your schedule: Building activities that you enjoy into your schedule not only gives you something to look forward to during your week, it ensures that your priorities are just that. Unscheduled time has a tendency of escaping even the best of intentions.
  • Drop activities that sap your time or energy: Your habits could be working against you without your knowledge. Spending time checking bank accounts, collecting office gossip and engaging in other similar counterproductive activities sap your time at work and may even be preventing you from leaving work earlier.
  • Rethink your errands: Find ways to reduce time-consuming errands and chores. Try sending that birthday card online, having your dry cleaning done at work, even consider trading services with friends for activities you enjoy or were planning on doing anyway.
  • Get moving: The benefits of exercise are well documented. Even if it’s only a couple times a week, working exercise into your schedule can increase your energy level and keep you more alert throughout the day.
  • Remember that a little relaxation goes a long way: Trying to make drastic changes to your routine can quickly become overwhelming. Take small steps to build changes into your schedule. This may mean leaving the office an hour earlier once a week or taking a walk during your lunch break. Taking 10-15 minutes of your day to do something you enjoy can go a long way towards maintaining your work-life balance.
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