Work-life balance is an elusive concept to many senior IT professionals. A recent survey of tech employees in major US cities found that just 65 percent are satisfied with their work-life balance. It’s a pervasive issue, especially in the US and the UK, and one which can lead to a host of well documented problems, including sleep issues, depression, heart disease and other stress-related disorders.
This – often counterproductive – state of affairs can end up costing both company and employees dearly in terms of health, time and money, but the culture can seem impossible to break. We’ve identified five ways you and your colleagues can maintain a balance in your organisation:
Prioritise personal and work commitments equally
For CTOs and senior managers, often the only way to ensure you make it to your child’s football game or parents’ evening is to put it in your calendar in the same way as you’d schedule a meeting or work event. When someone asks you to do something work-related, you’re then able to honestly tell them you have another commitment.
Limit email expectations
The French recently introduced a law giving workers at all levels the “right to disconnect” from email after office hours. It’s an approach being adopted by more UK and US companies, who are realising the benefits of a work day-only email policy – leaving work communication at work leads to less stressed, and ultimately more productive, employees. This doesn’t have to mean a complete communication shut down after 6pm – in the case of a genuine work emergency, senior staff can still be available on mobile phones.
Schedule regular exercise
The benefits of regular exercise for both mind and body have been widely documented. For senior IT executives who are less able to reduce the length of their working day, a visit to the gym or half hour run before work can increase energy levels, as well as giving them a chance to clear their head and work through ideas before going into the office.
Allow for flexibility
Flexible working has become the norm at some of the world’s biggest companies, including Microsoft and Google. Many of the most able millennial job seekers now actively look for employment opportunities that give them the technology-enabled flexibility they’ve grown up with. Allowing flexible hours and a degree of working from home gives employees and senior executives the freedom to balance their home and work time, as well as reducing commuting hours and increasing productivity.
Take that holiday time
A 2015 report found that a third of UK workers fail to take all of their allotted holiday time. This ‘presenteeism’ – an issue that’s especially prevalent in the tech industry – can eventually do more harm than good, with an increased number of workers taking sickness leave in lieu of leisure time. It’s up to senior management to ensure they take the time assigned to them, setting an example for colleagues further down the ladder who might be tempted to prove their worth by burning themselves out.