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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

Work-Life Balance Is Improving Thanks to Supportive Managers

Work-Life Balance Is Improving Thanks to Supportive Managers
Credit: bleakstar/Shutterstock

Employees can thank their bosses for having a better handle on balancing their work and home lives, new research finds.

A study from Robert Half Management Resources revealed that 52 percent of employees say their work-life balance has improved over the past three years. Just 12 percent of those surveyed said their ability to juggle both their workload and personal responsibilities has gotten worse.

The improvement in work-life balance may be attributed to the increased support employees are getting from their employers. More than 90 percent of workers said their manager has been at least somewhat supportive of their efforts to improve their work-life balance, with nearly three-quarters of those surveyed believing their boss sets a good, or even excellent, example in this area. 

Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, said there has been a greater emphasis among employees and employers to improve work-life balance. [Do you work from home? Here are 7 ways to improve your work-life balance]

"Managers can help by giving their teams more freedom over where and when they work, if possible, and providing greater autonomy," Hird said in a statement. "These efforts go a long way to improve job satisfaction and retention rates."

When it comes to work-life balance, younger professionals have the best outlook. Employees between the ages of 18 and 34 were more than twice as likely as those over the age of 55 to say their work-life balance has improved in recent years. In addition, 62 percent of younger employees said their boss supported their efforts to achieve work-life balance, compared to just 50 percent of the oldest workers and 47 percent of professionals between the ages of 35 and 54.

Although younger workers seem to be making the most gains in work-life balance, employers should make sure they are trying to improve it for workers of all ages, according to Hird.

"Many companies view work-life balance as being particularly relevant to millennials, but employees of all generations are under pressure to meet both work and personal obligations," Hird said. "Businesses should promote work-life balance initiatives broadly and make sure all staff have the opportunity to weigh in on the perks that will best help them meet their goals."

To help managers do a better job of supporting their staffs' efforts to achieve a healthier work-life balance, Robert Half Management Resources offers several tips:

  1. Know what your employees are striving for. Not everyone has the same work-life balance goals. It is important to talk to each employee about their objectives and then determine what you can do to help them meet those. Some employees may benefit from working remotely a couple days of week, while others may prefer altering their daily work schedule. In the end, you want to be open-minded and flexible.
  2. Set a good example. Your employees follow your lead. If you are sending emails at all hours of the day and night or working hard on the weekends, you staff is going to think that is what is expected of them too.
  3. Let employees know their options. While employers typically do a good job of highlighting their work-life balance offerings to prospective job candidates, the same can't be said for communicating those initiatives to current employees. You want to make sure you are regularly and broadly letting employees know of the options that are available to them.
  4. Stay at the forefront. It is important to keep ahead of the curve on emerging work-life balance trends. What works today for employees might not be a good fit a year from now. Keep your work-life balance initiatives fresh and be flexible enough to offer in-demand benefits.

The study was based on surveys of more than 1,000 U.S. workers over the age of 18 employed in office environments.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.