HR leaders often find themselves stuck in the middle when it comes to work-life balance and other employee work practices. On one hand, they are trying to promote workplace culture, value and policies. On the other hand, they need to live up to these principles, which is often easier said than done. 

Are You Walking the HR Talk?

HR leaders often find themselves stuck in the middle when it comes to work-life balance and other employee work practices. On one hand, they are trying to promote workplace culture, value and policies. On the other hand, they need to live up to these principles, which is often easier said than done.

Amid work pressures, deadlines and the never-ending to-do list, many HR leaders find themselves putting in long hours and never truly disconnecting when away from the office. How can HR leaders better walk the talk when championing efforts like work-life balance? Most of all, why is it important to do so?

The Importance of Leading by Example

A recent study by Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath[1] in collaboration with HBR concluded that, “What leaders say is far less important than what they do.”

The survey gathered data from 19,000 employees worldwide on how they experience their lives at work. They noted that employees performed their best when their core needs were met, including physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. Specifically, they noted:

“When leaders actively support more sustainable ways of working in these four dimensions, the result is a significant positive impact on employees’ engagement, stress levels, retention, and job satisfaction. When leaders model in their own behavior sustainable ways of working, the effect on those they lead is far bigger.” – Schwartz and Porath

HBR study

Specifically, HR is the guiding light when it comes to work-life policies and behaviors, but simply having a policy in place is not enough. “Our research suggests a deceptively simple formula for leaders: the better you take care of your people — and yourself — the better they will take care of the business,” conclude Schwartz and Porath.

For company leaders, the bottom line boils down to this: You have to walk the talk if you want to change the culture and behavior at your company. Employees look to those in leadership positions to understand the unwritten expectations of the company and what acceptable and unacceptable behavior looks like.

Why the need for work-life balance?

Schwartz and Porath found that when leaders model sustainable work practices, participants reported more than twice the level of trust in their leaders. They are also more likely to be engaged, have higher levels of health and well-being, feel more satisfied at work and be more likely to stay at the company.

HR can lead the way by modeling best practices and helping develop a healthy culture that makes balancing all of life’s demands more manageable. As you reflect on how well you are walking the talk, consider the following tips from Forbes can help make it easier for HR and company leaders to manage and model work-life balance:

  • Help employees work more efficiently by providing them with the right tools and resources
  • Ensure departments are adequately staffed to prevent employees from becoming overworked. Moreover, ensure there is ample vacation coverage by cross-training employees or ensuring that managers can cover employee workload while they are away
  • Practice what you preach – take care to model work-life balance practices by using your vacation time and truly disconnecting while away from the office (i.e., no checking email or sending late night communications)
  • Provide clear direction regarding organizational priorities to help employees focus on the highest-value tasks while on the job
  • Encourage and model high levels of teamwork within and across organizational units so employees have access to support from co-workers when coping with work demands
  • Support training and development to ensure that employees have the skills and decision-making authority to get the job done                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

We want to hear from you! How well do you model work-life balance for your employees and co-workers? Take our quick poll now.

 

For more information:

  • Learn about Ceridian LifeWorks – our employee assistance, work-life and wellness solution
  • View our infographic on the DNA of an Engaged Employee

 

[1] Tony Schwartz is president and CEO of The Energy Project and Christine Porath is an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.