Here are some tips we have learnt from employers of choice we work with:
Be a role model - the actions of senior leaders are heard and observed by employees. Managers who pursue work-life balance in their own lives model appropriate behaviour and support employees in their pursuit of work-life balance. They create a work environment in which work-life balance is expected, enabled, and supported. They retain outstanding employees to whom work-life balance is important.
Offer a flexible work schedule - a flexible schedule does not mean that employees can come and go at will, which is a possibility that concerns employers. A flexible schedule policy spells out what the employer means by flexible hours. In many workplaces, flexible starting and ending times are easy to implement. More sophisticated flexible schedules such as a four-day workweek or telecommuting require more planning, but flexible work schedules are a cornerstone for work balance.
Let Parents be parents - raising a child (not to mention several) is a full-time job in itself that may require attention at any given point during the day. Consequently, those firms that provide options like on-site day care service, emergency back-up carers and the ability to address family emergencies when they arise have an integral strategy that enables retention of those staff members with both familial and professional ambition.
Set realistic work expectations - with employees electronically connected to the workplace 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in the office or out, work and life balance is a challenge. Set up the expectation, in your workplace, that when an employee leaves for vacation, it is okay to send an email that says he is on vacation with limited access to email.
Support in time of need - employees have serious, life-changing events, emergency family needs, and desires to explore life and career opportunities. Events such as the premature birth of a baby who is hospitalised for an extended period, nursing a parent with a serious illness, settling a relative’s estate in another state, or moving house all take their toll on employees and their families. Think broadly about how you can help.
Expect employees to work hard, work long hours, and weekends, but not all of the time - it’s okay to expect employees to work long, hard hours during the push for end of financial year or launch of a new product. But, employees can’t sustain an extraordinary level of energy and long overtime hours as a constant work expectation. Employees will check out, burn out, and / or leave if long hours and extraordinary effort are the norm. Don’t confuse commitment, engagement, and dedication with 60-70 hour weeks.
Dads need support too - employers are recognising that dads and mums alike crave work-life balance, and are offering flexible work policies and programs to support the employees' family needs.