I’ve been thinking a lot about work/life balance and company culture lately. Perhaps just because I am truly so thankful for mine.
Real talk: My life is coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.
I’m a Creative Director at a busy startup. I’m a wife to a handsome, supportive, funny, charming firefighter who's totally reading this and who works 24-hour shifts three nights a week. And I’m a mom to three kids five and under, the youngest five and a half months and still super dependent on me physically.
It’s… A LOT.
But the one thing that makes it so much better is the support I have at work. Our team at Excelerate America has families and understands that babies get ear infections, kindergarteners come down with the flu, and then you come down with the flu, and school gets closed due to snow, and then you lose power in frigid winter temps and have to go spend the night at your mom’s house and therefore will be even later the next morning after getting the circus back home and on track.
Oh yeah, this all legit happened to me in the span of two weeks.
Did I mention we had also a mice problem at the same time?
So the fact that I am surrounded by a culture that understands and embraces a work/life balance makes these inevitable hiccups so much easier to get through. But while I am beyond fortunate and have this great situation I STILL feel a ton of guilt and frustration when it comes to getting what I want and need to get done for my job. I also feel that much more determined and focused on kicking ass and being the best for my team.
That’s why work/life balance is so important. It keeps employees engaged and happy and sane (at least somewhat in my case!).
Today’s changing work landscape really gives companies large and small an amazing opportunity to nurture their employees in-and-out of the office like never before, and in really simple ways.
Here are a few:
- Walk the Walk: If you're a boss or even an employee who claims to support work/life balance but then you stay at the office until 8 pm and send emails all weekend, it can create confusion and distress in other employees. You need to end your day when the rest of your team does and keep it at that.
Also, if you're the boss, don’t let yourself get so focused on your own to-do’s that you don’t know the dynamics of your team. You need to be on the floor and aware of how everyone is feeling and what’s going down.
- Stay Open to New Ideas: We recently featured Dough, a marketplace for women-owned brands, in October’s Tenacity Tales. The founders have a super cool process where they block out their days to maximize productivity: Monday/Wednesdays are meeting heavy while Tuesday/Thursdays are work from home and create everything they discussed days. I think this is brilliant.
- Give Kudos Generously: Recognize people within your organization who are doing cool things. Encourage employees to share their side hustle info and then actually shop it during the holidays. High-five the client who made the news for donating to a local non-profit (and then do it, too!).
- Be an Advocate: Send yourself and employees to conferences to get out of the office and encourage learning. There are also fantastic events and conferences that directly touch on social matters and culture as well as industry education. The 3 Percent Conference is one of my personal favorites.
- Read the News: Stay aware of what’s happening in your industry as well as the business world at large. You can learn a ton of what to do, and what not to do.
I recently read an article on LinkedIn about Rachel Carlson, founder of Guild Education. Guild Education helps large employers like Walmart and Disney extend education benefits to employees. When she decided to move the company to Denver, CO from San Francisco, CA to get out of the overworked and over-pressured startup culture there she got major flack for it. But her company has gone gangbusters and recently received $157 million in VC funding.
These are just a few simple ways you can nurture awesome an work/life balance ethos within your organization. It's something that you can't afford to ignore. Because, as Rachel Carlson put it, "By being really focused on having the right work culture, you can attract a different type of talent."