Why Work/Life Balance Is Key to Successful Organizational Change

Work/Life Strategies to Reduce Resistance to Change

When executing a major organizational change initiative, it pays to consider the work/life balance of your employees. A study by The American Psychological Association found that change at work is linked to employee stress, distrust, and the intent to quit. And the major causes of stress? An American Institute of Stress report found that the main stressors include:

  • Long hours and a heavy workload

  • People issues

  • A lack of job security

  • Poor work/life balance

During change projects, your employees are likely to work overtime, see their roles change, and be requested to work with new teams. They will feel insecure and concerned for their future. Addressing these issues and ensuring a better work/life balance will help to destress your employees and overcome resistance to change.

Developing your change management around work/life balance

Mitigating the damaging effects of change on people’s work/life balance will help to deliver more positive outcomes through change. The less upheaval that change exerts on people, the more receptive they will be to that change. Here are five work/life balance initiatives that can be employed as part of an overarching change management strategy.

  1. Create flexible working policies

One way in which you can ease people into change is to create flexible working policies that help them attend to their personal lives as well as their professional roles. An example may be to offer paid time off to compensate for extra hours worked. Employees value flexible working initiatives, and the free time created helps them to re-energize.

  1. Coach managers and supervisors to help work/life balance issues

Managers are the best people in an organization to help your employees address their work/life balance issues. Your managers should be coached to spot signs of fatigue, burnout, and stress. They should also be trained to recognize and reward behaviors that are aligned to the organizational change.

  1. Provide a family friendly workplace

Can your organization provide on-site facilities such as childcare or afterschool programs? Is it possible to be more flexible with members of staff who have parental responsibilities?

  1. Instigate whole-of-team meetings

If your change project will necessitate employees moving between teams, new management structures, or changed roles, conduct whole-of-team meetings in which people get to meet with new workmates socially as well as professionally. These ice breakers often provide the opportunity for people to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and save time onboarding into new teams.

  1. Provide good role models

As well as providing support to a better work/life balance through policies and processes, your managers should be examples of managing their own time and roles more effectively.

Employees will take their lead from their manager, watching for acceptable behaviors and imitating this. It is necessary for your managers to understand the individual members of their team, and understand that it is difficult to encourage people to balance their work and life if they are not doing likewise.

Many employees suffer from the perception of job insecurity if they don’t work the hours their boss does. This perception is heightened when they already feel insecure because of the change taking place within the organization.

Work/life balance coaching

An initiative that you may also consider at the start of a change project is to provide work/life balance coaching. This is heavily focused on individuals, with one-to-ones designed to:

  • Discuss employee priorities

  • Set individual goals

  • Develop schedules and help employees to manage their time more effectively

  • Establish individual boundaries between work and home life

  • Improve the manager/employee relationship

  • Ensure that employees have sufficient downtime to recharge

  • Help employees to work smarter, not harder

  • Ensure that employees feel comfortable to voice concerns and ask for help

Modern management and leadership techniques focus on people. Your employees are at the center of all positive change that takes place within your organization. If their emotional state and mental and physical wellbeing is not considered throughout a change project, even a temporary hit to their work/life balance could have disastrous consequences for the outcome of change.

Giving extra focus on work/life balance, and ensuring that your employees’ wellbeing does not suffer during organizational change will help to maintain their energy and enthusiasm for the change being executed.

Of course, time management is only one of the critical skills that leaders must equip themselves with today. Are your leaders fit to lead? Our leadership assessments will help you determine their strengths and weaknesses and coaching needs.


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