It’s natural for entrepreneurs to want to work around the clock to make sure their business succeeds - for business owners, success is as much personal as financial - and it can be tempting to call on employees to do the same. We all know that too much work can be unhealthy, but we assume that working hard in the short run will have a long-term payoff. We push our employees to put in extra hours and say it’s best for the business.

According to the recently released Towers Watson 2012 Global Workforce Study, this approach may be hurting employee engagement and, in turn, your bottom line. The report highlighted the practice of energizing a workforce through “sustainable engagement.” Companies that took the time to look after their employees’ physical, emotional and social well-being, thus meeting the benchmark for sustainable engagement, had the highest operating margins of all businesses studied. These companies also had lower employee turnover rates.

“For organizations, the challenge is to shift from their traditional focus on getting more out of people, to investing in meeting people's core needs so they're freed, fueled, and inspired to bring more of themselves to work, more sustainably,” Harvard Business Review blogger Tony Schwartz explained in an analysis of the study.

In the most engaged work environments, more than 70 percent employees felt that the amount of work they were required to do was reasonable, that the organization made it possible to balance work and personal life, and that work arrangements were flexible enough to meet their needs. In disengaged work environments, fewer than 30 percent of employees felt the same way.

In other words, if you want your employees to stay engaged (and, in the process, be more effective), don’t overwork them, encourage them to focus on their have a personal life and give them flexible work options. An employee who is bringing the stress of their personal life to work, will probably not perform to their true potential.  Instead of driving employees to work more, find ways for them to work more intelligently.  The key to a win – win situation is working with employees to maximize their impact, not just the number of hours that they work.  

“To complement a well-designed planning process, organizations can take creative approaches to providing balance, flexibility and improved autonomy, all of which give people greater control over their work lives,” the report said.

One of the things I love about Fonality is that we make it our job to help businesses embrace exactly these kinds of approaches. Unified communications solutions increase employee efficiency and flexibility by making it possible to effectively collaborate from anywhere. As a result, companies can offer their employees more autonomy and let them define a work lifestyle that works for them. Employees are more engaged, and business owners are happier, too.

Work Life Balance