How to Encourage Employee Work-Life Balance During the Holidays Jonathan Herrick The holiday season is a time for employees to recharge and relax so they can start the new year off strong. Depending on the nature of your business, your company may completely shut down over Christmas, be run by a skeleton staff or act as if it’s business as usual. So, how can you encourage your employees to take leave during the holidays to fit in with your work schedule and make their work-life balance a priority? Educate them. Sit the team down and educate them on the importance of work-life balance on a physical and emotional level. Get an expert in if necessary. Explain that for them to be able to handle the busy year ahead, they need to take holiday leave as a reward for all their efforts throughout the year. Many companies are now canceling the end-of-year rollover to urge their employees to take vacation days around the holiday. Suggest they use their leave as a priority to enable them to be more productive on their return. Give travel and hotel vouchers as an incentive. Time off is not the only thing you can give your people this holiday season. Rather than handing out cash bonuses, give travel vouchers and hotel gift cards instead to encourage your team members to take a little time around holiday or do something out of the ordinary. By investing in your team, they will be more productive and engaged in the long run. In fact, you may want to consider making incentives part of your yearly plan. Give employees options. Just as every business is different, so is every employee. Ensuring that opportunities are given to your staff is the best way to satisfy everyone. Can they choose their own days off to coincide with other things happening in their lives? The more control over their workday they have, the happier they will be. Maybe offering unpaid holiday leave for those who require extra days can also be arranged. After all, it can be a struggle for parents, as an example, once school holidays start. Offer a flexible work schedule. Providing a more flexible work schedule will also make for contented employees. Can they work a four-day week instead of five, by adding an extra two hours to another day? If they start earlier in the morning, can they take extended lunches to meet up with friends or family? Flexibility is a necessity to many job seekers and will help with overall job retention in the long-term. Enable them to work from home. Is there a possibility that some of your team members can work from home? Telecommuting cuts back on the daily commute allowing your employees to spend more hours at home with their family. It is also a helpful option for those who have to stay home and look after sick kids. In fact, a Gallup poll in 2016 showed that 43% of employees worked at home some of the time, an increase from 39% in 2012. Even just being able to offer this benefit during the holiday season will make your staff happy. Telecommuting is becoming quite the norm these days. Model positive work-life balance. If you are trying to advise your staff to leave early and you’re still sitting in the office at 7 pm, they may feel bad about not staying on. Leave the office when you should, barring any emergencies, and don’t bow to pressure to email your team while on holidays. Otherwise, they may feel the need to check their emails while away and never really feel like they get any breaks away from their job. Be less strict with how they spend their working day. If your team needs to order gifts online away from the prying eyes of their partner, then be generous. Let the strict rules lapse and their personal life overlap during business hours ever so slightly. If they need extended hours to do a bit of shopping for the holiday season, then perhaps it can be arranged. If necessary, they can always make it up by staying later. Cut back on overtime. While it may be necessary for your employees to work on weekends occasionally, it doesn’t have to happen during the holidays. Some staff may enjoy working late, while others may feel guilty about spending time away from friends or family. To be fair to everyone, minimize the need for extra hours and stick to standard work hours over the holiday festivities. Gift unscheduled afternoons off. If you find that your employees have been working hard, give them the gift of an afternoon off without it affecting their pay. They will hardly turn down the offer if it’s handed to them without them even having to ask. You don’t have to make a habit of it, but now and then will undoubtedly make a welcome difference to their work-life balance. It is not your responsibility as a manager to provide work-life balance, but you can encourage them to take the necessary time off and ensure that they look after their health and wellbeing. You will find that any efforts you put into this area will be rewarded with dedication and motivation.