3 Ways To Prevent Work From Taking Over Your Employees’ Lives


Bob Marsh

September 3, 2014

No matter how many books you read or management strategies you try, there will always be a struggle to find a true work-life balance for any career.

Any good manager knows that his or her responsibilities don’t end at coaching around how employees should optimize their time: You need to help your team cultivate a healthy work-life balance, too. Employee burnout is a real concern; it simply cannot coincide with high productivity or healthy morale.

Is finding the perfect work-life combo an elusive goal? Of course. There will never be a perfect split between your professional and personal lives. But there are a few simple steps that you as a leader can take to help your team get to a healthy place. Here are three of them:

1. Ensure Your Team Knows Where Not To Spend Time

Sometimes we’re not truly busy, we’ve just taken on too much. Help your team to understand where they can, and should, limit their work. Coach them on:

Taking a look at internal meetings: It’s too easy to add another name to a meeting invitation, especially because you think they might have thoughts on the topic at hand and don’t want them to feel excluded. But instead of just inviting them, talk to your team about this. Encourage them to wonder if everyone they’re inviting to meetings needs to be there and if they themselves need to take on so many meetings in the first place.

Saying no: Help your team members to understand their roles and priorities. They might not be saying no to enough prospects or to those extra meetings they don’t really need to attend.

Quitting projects: A lot of us were raised to believe that quitting anything isn’t good. That’s entirely untrue when it comes to work. For example, if one of your sales reps is prospecting off of a list that’s not returning strong opportunities–and clearly not going to–his or her valuable time could be spent elsewhere.

Resetting on what’s important: Your employees’ time may be focused incorrectly, and as a leader, you probably have a hunch what their behaviors should be. Remind your team of where they should focus their time, and do what you can to celebrate and recognize those who are doing it well.

2) Leverage distractions

Instead of trying to shield distractions from your employees, take full advantage. Here are a couple of ways you can do that:

Offer distractions as incentives: During the summer, close the office early and take your team to a local baseball game for hitting their goals. During the winter, allow top-performing team members to leave early for family gatherings. It can be overwhelming to choose motivating incentives, but seasonal distractions often offer an easy choice.

Tie distractions into contest themes: Try things like kicking off college football season with your own football-themed contest that gives your people points for critical accomplishments and then allows the winning team to choose the college football jersey that your CEO will wear for a day. Incorporating current events into your motivation campaigns can go a long way in getting employees’ focus where you need it.

3) Consider an open vacation policy

Many leaders are quick to dismiss the idea of an open vacation policy, which allows employees to take days off whenever they need it. But contrary to popular assumptions, just because vacation days don’t come with boundaries doesn’t mean your people won’t ever be around. In fact, you may actually have to remind people to take time off.

Your team members’ jobs aren’t centered on working a certain number of days per year, but on meeting the goals set for them and that they define for themselves. As long as they’re finding ways to accomplish those goals, it’s important that they’re able to take breaks when they need them. Then they come back refreshed and productive, which puts them in a better place to achieve their goals anyway.

Take a minute to recognize the levels of burnout that likely surround you. Sometimes the absolute best thing you can do to boost productivity is to help your team to minimize that burnout. Put these three tips into action, and you’ll at least be on your way.

Bob Marsh is founder & CEO of LevelEleven.

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