A business manager's guide to a healthy work/life balance

As workplace wellbeing becomes increasingly important, be sure to read our guide to maintaining the boundaries between office and home.

13 May 2019

Most business owners would say that running a business is a highly rewarding endeavour for many different reasons. From realising ambitions and being your own boss to building something for the future, the list of benefits is clear. However, owning a business also brings plenty of other challenges that can blur the line between your time at work and what you do for leisure when the day is done.

Working longer hours, and a lack of policy and structure in small businesses when compared to larger companies, can mean owners and employees alike may start to neglect their home life, forgetting that it’s a place to rest up, recharge and enjoy themselves.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re doing our bit to make sure both you and your employees enforce the distinction between what happens in your office and making sure you enjoy yourself at home. We hope the following resource serves as a reminder to enjoy the little things after a long day.

What challenges do small business owners and employees face?

In a small business environment, there are a number of ways that work can sometimes impede on your time outside the office. To help ensure you keep a healthy work/life balance, take some time to recognise if you’re doing any or all of the following things:

Professional struggling with the demands of work

  • Working beyond the usual 9 to 5 in an attempt to meet demands and get the business off the ground.
  • Working on business-related activities such as responding to business emails and calls after hours.
  • Taking on multiple roles on top of regular duties.
  • Reluctance to take time off work for fear of negatively impacting the business.

Tips to maintaining a strong work/life balance

There are a few small changes you can make to your daily routine to help build and maintain a stronger work/life balance.

  • Increase your productivity whilst at work

Sometimes it can feel like we have to give ourselves permission to enjoy our free time. While that’s not necessarily true, there’s nothing more rewarding than working hard through the day and treating yourself afterwards.

Focus on trying to be as productive as possible during the day. Get a good night’s sleep, list 2-3 tasks you want to get done, and then work through the most important tasks first. In doing this, you’ll not only feel as though you’ve earned your free time, but will also avoid falling into those bad habits mentioned above.

  • Learn to say no

Those 2-3 tasks you want to work on will need your utmost focus if you’re to finish them before the end of the day. Too often, we shy away from the word ‘no’ for fear of disrupting the order of the workplace.

Smiling professional

Don’t be afraid to say no if you need to concentrate on something that needs to be done. A good work/life balance means leaving the office on time, and taking on more than you can do is a sure-fire way of falling into a cycle of staying late after everyone else has gone home.

  • Set more realistic expectations

Following on from the above, one of the biggest things that can hamper your work/life balance is unrealistic expectations you’ve set with your team or clients. If you know that these expectations are unachievable, then it’s not fair to set them for yourself and your wider team.

Be open and transparent with your client or team to outline expectations in a clear, achievable way to avoid overworking yourself.

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle

When you’re feeling low, it can be difficult to hold an interest in staying healthy. Even small things like keeping your work or living space clean and tidy can give you a boost, so if things are particularly bad, consider starting small. Little victories are still victories, and are often the key to getting yourself back on the right track. Try the following:

Professional achieves work/life balance

  • Unwind with different relaxation techniques, such as meditation, reading, connecting with nature or listening to music, and find the one that’s right for you.
  • Get in the habit of winding down before bed; avoid phone and computer screens as these can interfere with sleep.
  • Make some time for exercise if you can. Even a brisk walk can help alleviate certain negative feelings.
  • Try out a new hobby outside of your business.

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  • Consider allowing flexible or remote working

There’s an increasing focus on flexible and remote working, and with good reason. In return for being trusted to manage when, where and how they work, employees can reduce commutes, better attend to life admin and generally free up their schedule by working from home or at a time they’d prefer.

An added benefit is that employees feel valued by managers who empower them to look after their own time and still do a good job of their duties.

  • Review workloads regularly

For the benefit of your team, it’s a good idea to review your allocation of duties to ensure that individuals have achievable workloads. Familiarise yourself with the processes of allocating work; what might be a small task for you could be a challenge for someone on your team. 

Business team discuss ideas

Talking to your team regularly will let you know who is busy and stressed, and who can take on more duties comfortably. Give your team the opportunity to say when they’re overworked, or if they have time to carry out other tasks.  

  • Support parents if necessary

When you factor children into the mix, the importance of a work/life balance increases all the more. Ensure that you keep hold of talented team members who are also parents by supporting them where you can.

You might not be able to provide a company creche but there are ways to help with childcare. You might consider providing childcare vouchers so they can take advantage of tax savings and cut down on their childcare bills.

Additionally, providing better benefits for maternity, paternity or shared parental leave will allow parents to better balance working life with parenthood, regardless of their gender.

Gazprom Energy is a leading and award-winning business energy supplier, helping thousands of small businesses manage their gas and electricity contracts. To find out more about what we can offer your business, visit the homepage or call us today on 0161 837 3395.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of Gazprom Energy. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Gazprom Energy accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

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