Work and life, life and work. The two intermingle more than ever thanks to technology, making it almost impossible to separate the professional from the personal. Previously, the term “work-life balance” was on everyone’s lips. Although the concept is a worthwhile pursuit, the term itself is outdated. Today, we live in a world where work and life blur together, no matter how hard you try to separate them. We as individuals strive for successful work-life blending, while many organizations still struggle to grasp the importance of making the blending of work and life a priority for their employees. Allowing people to be the best version of themselves at home helps them to be extraordinary at work.
Thankfully, there are a few simple strategies leaders can use to ensure that work-life blending becomes a greater area of focus and something supported by everyone in the organization, regardless of their level or role.
1. Lead by example.
Rapid technological advancements are creating the expectation that we’re always “on,” ready to respond to an email or call at a moment’s notice, 24/7. Emergencies or important projects aside, most emails and work-related phone calls can happen during work hours. As a leader, if you are making successful work-life blending a priority, you need to show people you personally value their time outside of the office. If people see their leaders sending regular emails at all times of the night, they are going to feel obliged to answer, feeling it’s expected of them.
When an idea comes to you in the middle of the night and you want to record it before you forget, that’s fine – that’s work-life blending. However, make it clear that you have a life outside of work as well and that you value the fact the people you lead do, too. Simply compose your email as a draft and wait until the morning to send it. That way, you have successfully blended work and life on your own terms, while not imposing your work-life blend methods on others.
2. Champion flexibility.
In order for people to be an extraordinary version of themselves at work, we have to support them in being extraordinary in their lives outside of work. Organizations are finally creating more flexible workplace experiences, allowing individuals to tend to their lives outside of work, during work. Lately, a number of organizations have moved to a more empowered method for time away from work that removes the traditional accruals, specific number of days, etc. Again, this method empowers leaders and employees to tend to the things that are important to them outside of the office. Other organizations have allowed employees to balance a lengthier vacation with remote work. These are all examples of ways to ditch archaic policies and put work-life blending into practice. The degree of flexibility depends on the organization’s leadership and culture.
3. Communicate and demonstrate your commitment to work-life blending.
Leading by example and creating new experiences supporting work-life blending are important, but sometimes it’s necessary to reiterate and demonstrate your commitment. Make it known to your people that you want them to be successful at work-life blending – that you want them to take the time they need to attend their kid’s soccer game or take care of a parent. People need to know that you value their life outside of work as much as the work they do and that you are there to support them in any way you can.
What is gained through work-life blending?
The value of successfully prioritizing work-life blending within an organization should not be underestimated. These days, the employee experience is critical. Successful work-life blending creates engaged and talented workers who are more likely to stay and contribute to the company’s goals. Moreover, as word gets out that your company culture embraces work-life blending, your organization will become more attractive to candidates who are heavily scrutinizing company benefits – giving you a bigger and better talent pool to choose from and, potentially, a higher likelihood of finding the right person for the right role. Some of the most talented people want to work for the best companies. When they work for a company that values them – though successful work-life blending, among other things – they will work smarter for you.