As a manager, you’ve probably seen lots of articles about work-life balance that are aimed at you.

But don’t overlook the fact that this issue also affects the hourly employees at your restaurant and the quality of their work. So why is work-life balance so important for your staff? And how can you encourage it when there are lots of other priorities competing for your attention?

Understand the value of balance

Helping your employees obtain work-life balance doesn’t just benefit them. It also benefits your restaurant’s bottom line. Let’s break down why.

No. 1:

Research shows us again and again that happy employees are more engaged and productive. That makes your job easier in a lot of ways: Your employees aren't just doing better work. When they feel more of a sense of engagement and wellbeing, they also take fewer sick days. They bolster group morale instead of dragging it down with trash talk and complaining. If employee unhappiness lingers on over the long term, you're setting your restaurant up for high staff turnover – which can decimate your budget and damage the quality of the experience you provide for customers.

No. 2:

While many factors affect employee happiness, work-life balance is a huge part of the formula. In a recent survey, almost two-thirds of employers said flexibility improved employee engagement and motivation. Employees also need adequate time to rest and recharge to do their best work. Finally, personal matters are a major source of distraction at work. When you make it easier for employees to manage family responsibilities and their other roles outside of work, they're more likely to be focused and engaged when they're on the job for you.

To sum it all up, happy employees are more productive and effective. And work-life balance is one of the big drivers of employee happiness.

Enable balance through smart scheduling

The next step, then, is looking at how you can make that balance easier for your employees to achieve. According to research by Office Team (a staffing service), flexible scheduling was employees’ top answer when they were asked about benefits that best support work-life balance. Indeed, studies show that flexible work schedules correlate to better mental health. The No. 2 answer in the Office Team survey — time off from work — also ties into scheduling.

There’s also a third scheduling factor when it comes to supporting work-life balance for hourly employees: predictability. Because of the rise of just-in-time scheduling, many hourly workers have little control over their hours. They don’t know in advance when they’ll be working, and they might even have shifts get canceled at the last minute. All of this undermines work-life balance on several fronts. When employees can’t predict their work schedules, they have more trouble managing their other responsibilities, such as caring for their children or for a sick family member. They might also struggle to recharge outside of work. Working erratic shifts can cost them sleep and make it harder to plan for activities that replenish them, whether that means a class they want to take or time with friends.

The key takeaway here is that a schedule that supports work-life balance should be both based on employees’ needs and stable enough that they can plan the rest of their lives around it. As a manager, you probably already support this idea in theory — but you might worry that it’s easier said than done. After all, what we’re talking about means an extra level of planning and organization, and your days are already jam-packed.

That’s where having effective, time-saving tools comes in. The right scheduling software allows you to offer your team greater scheduling flexibility without creating more work for yourself. With an employee scheduling software employees can swap shifts on their own, and you and your team members can collaborate in real time on schedule changes. This can especially come in handy during periods when a lot of employees want time off, such as summer or the holiday season. It also makes it easier setting schedules farther in advance so that your employees have more predictability in their lives.

More ways to support work-life balance

In addition to offering flexible, predictable schedules, there are other steps you can take that both support your employees’ total well being and fit into your busy schedule.

  • Learn to recognize the signs of burnout. An employee who is exhausting himself by juggling work and personal responsibilities might be hesitant to speak up because of worries that you’ll judge him harshly. If you notice an employee who is struggling, initiate a conversation about what’s going on in his life and how you can support more work-life balance.
  • Encourage employees to use all of their paid time off each year. Let them know that you support them in taking some free time. We all need time away from work. Skimping on it can lead to burnout —which leads to turnover.
  • Notice how your employees are doing. Got an employee who is yawning and out of it every day? There’s perhaps no bigger sign that her life is out balance and she might not be getting enough sleep.


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