Work-life balance is a critical factor in building engaged, productive and committed remote and traditional teams. If you need your employees to show up and do their best, you must make sure they have adequate space and time to get away from their work and disconnect each day.
However, some employees have a difficult time disconnecting. They are the ones that send work emails at 10pm. They spend their weekends grinding through projects. They are not present for those around them after they have signed off for the day. Always thinking about work and what they have to get done.
The energy that people have in their lives is like a bank account. They must make energy deposits by spending time participating in activities that enable them to recharge. This supports them to have the energy to spend on activities like work.
When they don’t do this, they become depleted and have no energy to expend on their work and other life activities. This leads to disengagement, poor work performance and ultimately burnout, anxiety and depression.
Obviously, employees need to disconnect, and it is your job in part to encourage them to do so.
Let’s take a look at some strategies to help your employees to unplug, recharge and avoid burnout.
This is hard for most people, but extra challenging for people in remote teams. When your home is your office, disconnecting from work can be even more difficult.
It’s essential to encourage and inspire your employees to set clear boundaries between their work life and home life. Proactively inform employees they must put those boundaries in place. Send out a company-wide email announcing a daily work cut-off time or discuss the importance of work/home balance during meetings.
Make sure employees are logged off the work platforms during out of work times. If they are sending emails outside of work hours, actively speak to them about setting good quality boundaries in place and the importance of this to their health. Make sure you respect those boundaries – don’t send emails on the weekend or out of office hours. If you do, stipulate that you don’t need an answer until their work hours resume.
Offer your team members the flexibility to work outside of the regular work hours, but give back that time to them in return. This works well for remote workers, but can also work as well for traditional teams with some negotiation. Give your people as much flexibility as possible for them to determine when and how they do their work. They are more likely to disconnect when they have to, and it has also shown to increase productivity when they are doing their job.
Providing your people the autonomy to set their own hours will encourage them to both connect and disengage with their work on their terms.
Incentivise to disconnect
Some people need additional incentive to turn off their computers and tune into their life. If you want them to disconnect, you can always give them an extra push. If you have team members who are repeat offenders of not disconnecting, organise a prize. If people refrain from sending work-related emails after hours, they will be in the running for an additional days leave. Or arrange drinks after work. If they talk about work, they have to buy a round of drinks.
People are more likely to disconnect if they have a reason. So take the initiative and give them that motivation.
Setting the example
The most powerful ways HR and leadership can encourage their employees to disconnect is to lead by example. When leaders model the behaviour they are seeking, they normalise it for employees.
- If you want employees to disconnect in the evenings, you leave at the time you are supposed too. You don’t send out emails past work hours – you can always schedule them to be sent first thing in the morning.
- If you want employees to take a lunch break, ensure you have a quiet non-working lunch for yourself.
Let your employees know what you personally do to disconnect every day. Tell them how you prioritise self-care and rest.
Let them know you go to the gym or take your children to the park every Saturday morning just to have time together, no interruptions.
This gives them the green light to do the same but also helps them to recognise how they can implement similar activities into their lives.
Managers need to step up to model behaviour and signal that it’s OK to rest and recharge to get through the working week. By acting as an example, you’ll reap the benefits of disconnecting for yourself, your team and the entire organisation.