Recent polls by Gallup show that on average, Americans are working more hours per week than any other country in the world. While most of those other countries have laws limiting the maximum hours their citizens can work in a week, the US does not. On top of that, around half of all Americans leave at least some of their paid vacation days unused every year. While this can be seen as admirable, or even a point of pride for the many working to provide for their families and trying to earn a better living, these facts highlight an underserved element in American life: work-life balance.
As a general part of its strategy, the team at My Success Pros, a top online business services provider, has been working to help business owners and its clients find a better work-life balance, for themselves as well as their employees, and encourages them to incorporate it into their operations. Although it is not listed as an explicit part of the services offered by My Success Pros, they include it as a part of their training and processes to help business owners develop more sustainable, productive, and profitable long-term outcomes.
But why are companies like My Success Pros starting to put a greater emphasis on work-life balance? They are recognizing its importance in light of a growing amount of science and empirical research, as well as an observation of the landscape of American working culture. Most companies and business owners recognize the importance of human capital and that an effective workforce is the lifeblood of any high-performing business, but it is crucial that they understand that providing the necessary supports for workers is a prerequisite for this.
Business owners know that pushing themselves and their workers to achieve is a natural part of the process to achieve success but avoiding burnout is a serious task and problem to avoid. Recent studies have found that roughly 3 out of every 4 workers are experiencing or have experienced burnout within the past year, and this is a gigantic problem as workers experiencing burnout tend to underperform and consider looking for newer jobs. This has only grown worse during the pandemic as more people work from home and are experiencing greater difficulties in separating their home-life from their work-life while feeling the constant pressure to respond to their managers and clients throughout the day.
In response to these growing issues, the team at My Success Pros encourages their clients to be more aware of the potential pressures and stressors their employees may be under, as well as consider that they themselves may be pushing themselves to a point of burnout. Luckily, My Success Pros likes to share some good news in that there are many proven tactics for combatting worker burnout, especially if it is addressed quickly.
Simply being more engaging and complimentary towards high-performing workers who have completed a task is one way to let them know their work is appreciated. Often times this can be assumed, but a few congratulatory remarks and acknowledgment of work well done can be very encouraging for a worker who is not sure they are being appreciated. Offering flexible work schedules is another solution that tends to help employees that are having trouble balancing family needs with their work schedules. For example, giving parents some flex time with their work schedules so they can pick up or drop their kids off at school is one way to give some much-needed breathing room.
Relatedly, My Success Pros encourages business owners and their employees to emphasize more time spent with their families, communities, and church. This can provide some much-needed respite from the rigors of a hard work week and let people come back to work properly recharged and ready to go.
For those business owners who are worried about falling behind in the pursuit of better work-life balance, My Success Pros likes to remind them that it is far from a direct trade-off. As mentioned before, there is a growing body of evidence to support the idea that greater work-life balance and less working hours can lead to greater productivity and similar or even better outcomes for businesses. Famous economist John Maynard Keynes once predicted almost a century ago that we would one day only need a 15-hour work week as machines and automation would increase human productivity to the point where we would only need to work so much.
While we are not quite yet there as a society, Keynes was right in that the focus on better productivity is the real goal to aim for. It has become a bit of a cliché to say, “work smarter, not harder,” but there is some truth to this statement as longer hours do not always directly translate into better results. For example, Microsoft Japan experimented with a 4-day workweek and experienced a 40% productivity boost which more than offset the 1 day off, and other efficiencies such as greatly reduced electricity costs due to the extra day the offices were closed.
On a larger scale, researchers in Iceland reviewed thousands of employers and employees over 4 years in a nation-wide test of a 4-day workweek without pay cuts and found that there was no drop in productivity and even improved productivity in many workplaces. They also found that workers reported much less stress, less instances of burnout, and even better health. The workers in the survey said they were able to spend more time with their families, exercising, and socializing and that this led to much stronger engagement with work overall.
Happier workers also tend to be more loyal and are much less likely to look elsewhere for jobs. All business owners and employers are likely familiar with the difficulties in finding people to fill open positions and it is also quite costly. One study found that on average, it took 42 days to fill an open position and that it cost over $4,000 to hire and train each employee. It also takes away time from other workers to train the new hires, and usually took about 6 months for the company to break-even on the new hire.
In sum, good policies that emphasize work-life balance can lead to better employee retention, reduced costs, better productivity, and better outcomes for the business. My Success Pros acknowledges this and it is why they encourage their clients to have an appreciation for the importance of work-life balance.
About My Success Pros:
My Success Pros is an online business consulting and business development service provider based in Henderson, Nevada. My Success Pros has been nationally recognized for their excellence in helping traditional business owners in transitioning their businesses online.