Life is the pursuit of happiness, but it’s a constant balancing act to achieve fulfillment in multiple aspects of our lives.  We may be happy in the workplace, but if our personal relationships are suffering, it will be hard to find lasting joy.  The same is true of the reverse.  Even if we’re very happy at home, if the time we spend at work is frustrating or unfulfilling, our well-being will suffer.

Though everyone is ultimately responsible for their own happiness, employers can play a significant role in creating a work environment that fosters good morale.  Employers aren’t just helping their workforce when they do this; they are also supporting the bottom line.  Studies show that happy employees make productive workers who are more apt to stay in their jobs.

The Importance of a Balanced Life
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Here are a few ways that employees can boost morale:

  • Reward good performance. People want to be recognized for their efforts.  Consider establishing a quarterly or semi-annual awards program to honor hard-working and innovative employees.  You don’t have to spend a lot on rewards. Even a certificate and an office lunch in their honor can send a strong message.
  • Exemplify work-life harmony. If you’re staying until 8 pm every night and sending your employees urgent emails at midnight, you’ll quickly create a culture of overwork. As an alternative, give your employees permission to properly balance their home and work lives by doing the same yourself.
  • Support flexible work arrangements. The days of everyone coming into the office at 9 and leaving at 5 are over.  Many businesses are allowing for more flexible work schedules and telecommuting.  Not everyone is a morning person, so consider letting people come in later and stay later if they request it.  You can also allow employees to work from home on occasion.  It saves people from having to get dressed up for work and fight traffic while driving to and from the office.  Studies show that many employees are happier and more efficient when they can work from home periodically.
  • Empower employees. No one likes to be micro-managed.  Delegate heavily while setting up an accountability structure to keep the reins on a project. For example, rather than solving a problem and having an employee execute your solution, present them with the challenge and let them work out an answer.  Have them draft a written plan for reaching a solution.  Then, invite them to report every couple of days on their progress.  People are often more committed to projects when they feel ownership.
  • Offer development opportunities. People work for paychecks, but there’s more to job satisfaction than just the money.  People want to feel like they are learning and improving.  Support professional development efforts.  This may mean sending people to courses, paying for computer classes for employees, or even something as simple as giving them time to read career-enhancing books that you can discuss as a group. When you invest in continuing education and development, you will have happier employees and a more productive workforce.

When you’re on the job, work hard.  But when you walk out the door, leave your work at the office.  Focus on relationships.  When you can maintain harmony between your different priorities, you’ll function better on the job.  Your employees who follow your lead will also be happier and get more done.