How to communicate effectively for better work-life balance

In today’s always on workplace culture, where employees are rewarded and oftentimes expected to work long hours and communicate continuously, balance can be hard to find. In fact, more and more people are prioritizing work over their personal lives, tipping the scales toward burnout and stress.

How to communicate effectively for a better work-life balance

According to a study on work-life balance conducted by the OECD, 11 percent of U.S. employees work 50 hours or more per week. The study also found that full-time workers dedicate only 60 percent of their day to personal care and leisure activities. That’s an average of 14 hours.

Having a healthy work-life balance not only helps reduce stress, but it also prevents workplace burnout. According to a separate study from Deloitte, 84 percent of millennials say they have experienced burnout at their current job. While close to half were saying they’ve parted ways with a company because they felt burned out.

So, why do so many employees suffer in silence? It can be uncomfortable to bring up work-life balance with a manager. You don’t want to come off as being difficult or lazy or be passed up for that promotion or raise.

Instead of staying quiet, and living an unbalanced life, use the tips below to communicate your work-life balance needs with your manager.

Set expectations

If you’re in the habit of answering emails at all hours of the night, you may be part of the problem. You might think that this means you’re being a good employee. What you’re really doing is setting unrealistic expectations for co-workers and bosses. When you answer an email at 9pm, you tell others that you’re up and willing to work at that time.

Set boundaries to stop working outside your normal hours. In doing so, your manager and coworkers are more likely to respect your time and know that they shouldn’t expect answers during non-working hours.

If your manager insists on a response, simply tell him or her that you will get back to them with an answer in the morning.

Negotiate a better workweek

The typical 9-to-5 workday doesn’t work for everyone and in today’s digital world we’re quickly seeing this shift in businesses around the world. As Joy Burnford, leadership expert and founder of My Confidence Matters, says: “When our kids grow up to be future leaders, it will not even cross their minds about when, where and how they work.

This means it may be possible to create a better schedule that works for your life. If you’re a parent, for example, you might suggest a schedule that allows you to work from 7 am to 3 pm so you can spend time with your children in the afternoon and at night.

If your company doesn’t allow flexible work hours, ask about working from home one day a week, which would cut your commute time down. This then leaves more hours to spend enjoying your personal life.

Be respectful and prepared

Don’t unleash months of pent up frustration on your manager. Rather, approach the conversation with a solutions-based mindset and willingness to compromise. This means being prepared to speak about what you need and why it’s important.

Start by making a list of your projects and priorities and the time you spend on each task. Be open about where you know you can improve in addition to getting support. No matter what, it’s important to highlight the fact that you’re feeling overwhelmed so your boss can understand the challenge you’re facing.

Get to the root of the problem

Talking to your boss may not be necessary just yet because your work-life balance problem might actually be a productivity problem. If you’re constantly being pulled in different directions and bogged down by endless emails, you can’t effectively do your job. This means it takes longer to get work done, so you stay at the office later and get less time to enjoy  your personal life. 

If this is the case, start by assessing your schedule and seeing where you need help. When you know that, you can ask for support from your boss or co-workers. Next, take a look at your workday and consider where different tools may allow you to work more productively. Here are a few to consider:

  • Harvest: Keep better track of your time
  • Dropbox: Keep better track of documents and files
  • Trello: Keep better track of your schedule
  • Hubgets: Manage your team communication better

Don’t forget about the value of a company communication platform like Hubgets. If your team doesn’t use one yet, consider talking with management about investing in a tool that streamlines conversations and empowers productivity.

Communicate for work-life balance

Don’t let work take over your life any longer. If you’re struggling to keep up with work demands and the needs of your family and friends, use the communication tips above to have a constructive conversation with your manager and find a solution.

Communicate more effectively and your work-life balance will improve.

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