What is the Impact of Work-Life Balance on Employee Retention?

Oct 26 2021 read

In many service industry companies, employee salaries are the single most expensive part of the budget. 

When an employee decides to move on, turnover costs are steep — from the time it takes for you to advertise, interview, and offer the position again, to the challenges of training someone on how to use your systems.

These days, one of the big incentives for companies who want to retain staff for longer is work-life balance. In fact, according to CompareCamp, companies with strong work-life balance policies see a 25% boost to employee retention. That's dollars saved in both training and hiring.

‌The data on long hours and constantly being on-call isn't great either.

Most studies reveal that the longer the hours your team works, the less additional productivity they get from each subsequent hour. While the first 40 hours might have them producing great work, hours 41-50 are less effective, and 51 and beyond are even less effective.

‌While some industries truly need teams that are accessible 24/7, many more companies could create systems whereby their team members don't have to dread 2 a.m. phone calls or 12-hour workdays. 

‌More companies are seeking to create cultures where "presenteeism" isn't the metric of success, but rather the quality and timeliness of the output. With this focus on work-life balance when working from home, many new opportunities present themselves for companies that are willing to innovate.

Employee Turnover To More Flexible Workplaces Is a Real Talent Drain

‌Even if your team has always had a culture of burning the midnight oil to get work done, you may no longer be able to retain employees this way. 

‌More and more, people are wanting time for other pursuits outside of work. And employees with families are wanting to spend more time with partners and children while also taking on equitable shares of household tasks.

A study has shown that, after a certain income level, happiness doesn't tend to increase much for every additional dollar of income. Instead, savvy companies are realizing that they can keep their top performers by making work a more pleasant experience. 

‌The Solution Starts With Upper Management 

‌Even when upper management truly wants their individual contributors to experience work-life balance, most high-competence team members are going to take their cues from the C-suite. If the owner of the company works till 9 pm, expect ambitious subordinates to do the same.

‌The key is visibility. While a CEO might feel better sneaking off on a holiday weekend with his family, instead, making it clear that he'll only be checking work email once a day or so during those trips can give an important cue to employees. 

‌Upper management is also the place where real change can happen in the realm of organization versus chaos. 

‌Chaotic work environments tend to rely on last-minute hard work to solve problems. Organized workplaces have occasional last-minute needs, but after each one, the upper management asks, "what can we do to avoid this next time?"

‌If your current workplace systems consistently require long hours, surprise weekend work, and on-call availability to answer questions that could have been resolved earlier, your issue may be a need for a new platform to help avoid the need for these kinds of behaviors.

‌Does Remote Work Help Work-Life Balance? It Depends

‌There are certainly circumstances in which remote work helps with work-life balance. 

‌The money and time saved on commuting costs, the ability to move laundry or empty dishes on your lunch break, and the lack of office-chatter interruptions all are cited as helpful for getting work done and then getting back to one's life.

‌However, the pandemic also saw a variety of poor work-life balance attitudes from companies. For instance, assuming that workers were now available at all hours because less out-of-home socializing was happening.

‌When all of your work communication is available at home — such as using a home-based laptop instead of a desktop that you can only access in-office — it becomes tempting to work around the clock when the pressure is on. 

‌If teams intend to stay distributed or hybrid as many companies return to the office, maintaining work-life balance has to include strategic use of messaging and communication platforms.

‌If, for instance, your email could easily be a schedule-send for 9 am tomorrow instead of 5 pm tonight, doing so could really help remote workers maintain a bit of distance between work and home.

‌Three Ways Managers Can Drive Work-Life Balance

‌Base Praise on Outcomes

‌It's easy to casually praise working more rather than working better: if you catch yourself noting out loud that a team member stayed till 9 pm, make sure that you follow it up with, "while this was what it took to get the job done, how can we make sure no one has to work late next time?"

‌Praising people's actual outcomes also tunes you into any team members who are struggling. You want to be able to jump in and coach team members and offer further training before they have the chance to deliver sub-par work.

‌Be Clear on What Flexibility Does and Doesn't Exist

‌One of the ways that teams can unfairly allow work-life balance is to simply keep the rules vague and let the bravest individuals do whatever they want. 

‌You know the guy who always seems to leave at 3 pm and his boss says nothing? If there is “technically" a policy that everyone needs to stay until 5 pm, most people will stay but resent the comings and goings of that brazen worker.

‌To avoid this, make flexible rules — things that help team members use discretion but also not abuse the system. 

‌"Put in a minimum of 30 hours a week every week, with core hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-3. This system can be revised if you aren't meeting productivity objectives," for example, let's everyone leave at 3 if they've gotten their work done.

‌Enforce Policies Equally Without Favoritism

‌Similarly, flexibility can sometimes be extended to favorites and senior executives but not to those who are disliked or less social. By choosing to avoid favoritism, you make work-life balance part of the culture, not a perk of popularity.

‌Automating Administrative Tasks Creates Space for Flexibility

‌You'd be amazed how much time you can save just by keeping everyone on the same page and on track with scheduling and project expectations. You can afford a culture of stronger remote work-life balance when you have tools like a cloud-based client work management platform

The impact of work-life balance on employee retention is so positive that the work to get strong systems in place is well worth it. 

The Accelo platform helps everyone in your service business stay on the same page, with all their hours allocated and busy no matter how many or few hours they work.

Try a free trial of Accelo today as a way to avoid working all night long trying to track down the data you need to make great decisions for your business.  

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