Work-Life Balance: Finding Harmony for Employee Retention

If your company is like most employers, one of your top resolutions is improving employee retention. That undoubtedly means you’re seeking ways to enhance your employees’ work-life balance—an issue that will loom large in 2024.

According to Mercer’s “Inside Employees’ Minds” report, work-life balance matters so much to employees, it’s second only to financial security in terms of job requirements. Add that to Aflac’s latest workforce survey, which found that 57% of workers report experiencing burnout and 75% say they’re under moderate-to-high levels of stress. 

It’s clear: if you want to retain your people in 2024, you’ll improve their work-life balance. But what does that actually look like for employees—and what steps can you take to make it so?

The Meaning of “Work-Life Balance”  

Surf the Internet, and you’ll find various definitions of the term “work-life balance.” For example, the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family and doing things you enjoy.”
And according to the business expert Gartner, “Work-life balance is an aspect of employee well-being related to the employee’s ability to manage both personal and professional responsibilities with adequate time for rest and leisure.” 

So, work-life balance is largely about the number of hours employees spend in or on work versus their private lives. But we think that includes how much headspace employees devote to work after-hours…whether job-related stress follows them home…and if they ever fully unplug from the office.


7 Ways to Improve Work-Life Balance 

If you really want to improve the equilibrium between your peoples’ work and personal lives, consider these strategies:  

1. Offer More Time Off

More PTO. Parental leave. Pawternity leave. Paid volunteer days. There are many ways to offer employees some additional time off that won’t break the bank, but will show that you care. Keep in mind: in the Mercer survey cited above, employees said that providing more time off is the #1 most-effective way employers can upgrade the work-life equation.


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2. Prioritize Productivity Over Hours

If you’re not already discouraging excessive work hours, now’s the time to do so. Instead, encourage your people to make the most of their workday by setting clear expectations and holding employees accountable. In 2024, productivity and quality will trump marathon work weeks every time.

3. Be Flexible about How and Where Work Gets Done

According to Forbes Advisor, a whopping 98% of employees want to work remotely at least part of the time, although less than 40% currently do so. Unless you have a definitive business reason not to offer a hybrid work model, give it serious consideration. This will not only help with retention but recruiting, too.

4. Set Communication Boundaries

Another way to help employees leave work behind at the end of the day is to limit interoffice communications to work hours. Make it a company policy to ban after-hours calls, emails and messages—a clear show of respect for your people’s personal time. 

5. Require Employees to Use Their PTO

According to Pew Research, 46% of U.S. workers fail to use all of their allotted vacation time. Instead of allowing employees to carry over their PTO from year to year, consider requiring that employees take theirs during the calendar year. (Someday, they’ll thank you for it, because research shows that workers who take regular vacations live longer than those who don’t!)

6. Make Sure Workloads Are Reasonable

Employees who can’t get all their work done during standard work hours are perennially stressed (one reason employees don’t take all their vacation time is that they’re afraid of falling behind). Eventually, they may feel they must leave the company in order to “get their lives back.” For this reason, periodically audit workloads to make sure they’re fair and reasonable, and make adjustments when needed.

7. Accommodate “Splitters” and “Blenders” 

According to some fascinating Gallup research, employees are evenly divided between two work-life balance styles. Half are “splitters”—they prefer keeping their business and personal activities strictly separate. The other half are “blenders”—they prefer toggling between their two worlds throughout the day. 
Both are valid approaches. When you accommodate both work styles, everyone’s happier—and the work gets done. 

In conclusion, at the end of the day, better work-life balance benefits both employers and employees. And that includes busy HR professionals, too.  


If you’d like help measuring or improving employee retention rates, we’re here for you. Find more information here—or just ask for help.  


Human Resources Today